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MUST SEE! Early Apple Concept Designs from Hartmut Esslinger

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How many of you are familiar with Hartmut Esslinger?

He’s a German-American industrial designer who is responsible for the look and feel of Apple in the 1980s. In 1982 he entered into a $1 Million dollar a year contract with Apple Computer to create Apple’s design strategy. The result was the Apple “Snow White design language” which was applied to all Apple products from 1984 to 1990 including the Apple IIc and the Macintosh.

While searching around for an image to go along with Apple’s financial quarters I found this link to a company called Fudder. It talks about Hartmut’s son, but displays a gallery of his design work for Apple from the 1980s – and there is some AMAZING stuff here.

Early designs for Apple phone products, some amazing looks at early notebook design, and even a few Apple machines that’d I’d be happy to purchase even today. There’s even sketches for an Apple “cube” design, and a folding notebook concept that looks quite a bit like the previous generation of Macbooks.

Take a look —

Macintosh Concepts

Here are a few concepts of what the Macintosh could have looked like.

Here are a few accessory designs. The first is a concept for a mouse, the second appears to be a phone – but I’m not sure if it was somehow going to connect to the Macintosh, or if it was just something they considered selling to offices in addition to the computer itself.

Macbook Lifestyle

Next up appears to be a concept from 1983 for a portable computer that is labeled in the file names as the “Macbook Lifestyle”. It’s…interesting looking…

Phone Mac

Not exactly sure what the intent of this Apple phone concept was. Is it a digital fax type device? An email machine? Who knows…either way – it looks kinda cool.

Macbook Prototypes

More Macs…

Mac Professional Workbench

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

4 thoughts on “MUST SEE! Early Apple Concept Designs from Hartmut Esslinger

  1. Love the early “iPhone” concept – looks almost like a phone-based Newton, or daily planner of some sort. Those top Macs: imagine the early SEs with that big of a screen.

  2. Something like the PhoneMac was later produced by Siemens and was called NotePhone. It was a Phone connected to an Apple Newton PDA from which you could manage your contacts and send and recieve fax messages.

    The Mac pictured under “More Macs…” was called “Jonathan” and was a modular Mac with stuff like a Main module, HDD module, Floppy module, extra CPU Module and so on.

    For those interested in the design-process of the 20th Anniversary Mac (TAM) should have a look at – some of the concepts are quite interesting.

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