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Before the iPhone, Apple's Stunning Phone From 1983

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-in-time-for-1984-commercial dept.

Communications 152

Several readers pointed out the story of the Apple phone that never was, from 1983. Pictures of the concept phone are impressive, as you'd expect from Hartmut Esslinger, later founder of Frog Design. Even more interesting is that this phone is part of a much larger collection of Apple artifacts curated by Stanford.

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Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1983 (4, Funny)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546234)

It's surprising that Apple was trying stylus-based touch screens back in 1983. The phone seems to be in line with the whole Apple philosophy - thinking about functions and what user wants to do before technical details. This, in my opinion, is why Apple has always been so successful. Unlike Linux, Apple thinks about user first, and then technical details.

For example, the touch screen in this phone could had provide many useful functions compared to other phones. It's good for taking quick notes (keyboard wouldn't be), and it acts as a great phonebook. The fact that you could use it for taking notes, or viewing older notes, during phone call highlights the way Apple thinks. Always think about what user wants to do.

If I needed to do business and have a phone on my desktop, this is the kind of phone I would want! They could even make it a bit more modern by adding similar voice recognition like Siri is on iPhone. Then the device could act as your virtual secretary, handling your calendar, contacts and to do lists. In addition, make it do voice recognition during voice calls and provide transcripts for those. This also means you could search thru the conversation, and have a chat log of them. Need to look up the specific details your client said to you? No problem, just tell Siri to find them and it provides nice list of everything that was said, complete with audio and transcript. Then you don't even need to take notes so much.

This is the reason why I think Apple has been so successful with OSX, iPhone and iPad. They think about user first. They think what user wants to do. Then they fine tune all the details so that it is pleasant experience. UI and good design goes along with this. It's also what Linux is lacking.

Secondly, and more importantly, there's a growing issue apart from the first one. This has to do with special situation within human culture. You see, from the very beginning ducks have ruled the world. Yes, ducks. Yellow sitting ducks like you have in your bath tub. Microsoft, Apple, Google... all really started and owned by ducks. Steve Jobs was hired to work as a supposed CEO of Apple because the ducks thought humans would not be ready for a duck-run company. So while Steve Jobs spoke words like "amazing", "incredible" and "outstanding" to the human public, all the corporate orders came from the ducks. This is one of the basic misunderstands people have about tech world.

Overally, Apple has always got people. They do the technical parts good, but they especially finetune user experience and UI. Most other tech companies don't think about this. Open source products almost never think about this. It's why Apple is so successful.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546248)

So, why do you think Apple is successful and Linux isn't?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (3, Funny)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546260)

Because Apple has always finetuned UI and user experience. Linux has always been about command line and geeky stuff first. However, it's not what users want to use. They don't want to mess with command line settings and tools.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546278)

apple also appeals to faggots

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546286)

Keep telling yourself that, as you cry into your Mountain Dew Code Red while watching your VA Linux stock tank.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547336)

AC didn't say that you have to be a fag to like apple. But, he stated the truth - Apple does appeal to fags. Next time you're in some gay coffee bar, tapping away on your gayPad, look around you, and see how many gays are also tapping away at their own gayPads. It's safe to say that possession of a gayProduct is an indicator on anyone gayDar.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546292)

Linux was always servers first, work stations next, desktops last. Apple is the other way around. It's not fair to compare the two.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (4, Informative)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546302)

Linux was always servers first, work stations next, desktops last. Apple is the other way around. It's not fair to compare the two.

Uh, no. Linux was even created because Linus wanted a free UNIX like desktop. Since the beginning Linux users have touted how this will be the year of Linux on desktop. It has nothing to do with "servers first, desktops last", because Linux users very much have wanted Linux to be number #1 on desktop.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546346)

Uh, no. Linux was even created because Linus wanted a free UNIX like desktop.

He wanted something that he could hack on, and the free UNIX at the time was not good enough.

Since the beginning Linux users have touted how this will be the year of Linux on desktop. It has nothing to do with "servers first, desktops last", because Linux users very much have wanted Linux to be number #1 on desktop.

This is how I know you are shilling or trolling. It should be obvious to the slashdot crowd that most of the development in Linux is happening on the base of the system and server and DB related tools. Of course, any Linux user wants his desktop experience to be great as well.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2, Insightful)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546368)

Of course, any Linux user wants his desktop experience to be great as well.

Then why the hell do the vast majority of them put up shit like Gnome?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2)

boxxertrumps (1124859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546774)

Most people are pretty lazy unless they're paid not to be, or they care for some other reason.

Corollary: Most people don't care unless they're getting paid.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546488)

Linus said "I never wanted Linux to be some server".

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547358)

Citations?

It seems to me, that the original announcement about Linux didn't claim to have a desktop OS ready for use. In fact, it seemed to me like he was announcing something that may or may not work for some obscure purposes, of which he only had some vague ideas at the time. He sort implied that he hoped it might be comparable with Unix, with some maturity. I don't think he even used the word "compete".

Go on, look it up, and see what he actually posted, way back when. But, be sure to put your own mind into way-back-when, and make sure you understand what he was trying to accomplish. Forget about SCO, forget about Win95, forget about all the fancy GUI's you've seen since then. Go back in time, in your own mind, then read Linus' announcement that he had something just about good enough for people to hack at.

Years later, in hindsight, perhaps he may have wished that Linux was less embedded in the server world, and more conspicuous on the desktop. Then again, I don't really think he cares a whole lot.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (4, Informative)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546764)

Linux was even created because Linus wanted a free UNIX like desktop I'm sorry but you're mistaken. You can read the history of Linux's early days writted by Torvalds here [cmu.edu] . I quote him, bold is mine.

It is currently meant for hackers interested in operating systems and 386's with access to minix. [...] I can (well, almost) hear you asking yourselves "why?". Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows), and I've already got minix. This is a program for hackers by a hacker. I've enjouyed [sic] doing it, and somebody might enjoy looking at it and even modifying it for their own needs. It is still small enough to understand, use and modify, and I'm looking forward to any comments you might have.

You're probably right on the other point

Since the beginning Linux users have touted how this will be the year of Linux on desktop

This is probably never going to happen (not with a substantial market share) but 2011 was the year of Linux in the pocket [comscore.com] (remember Linux is only the kernel) and 2012 could be the year of Linux on the desk [androidcommunity.com] .

because Linux users very much have wanted Linux to be number #1 on desktop

That's unbelievable right? As if Mac users wouldn't like to see their platform to become the number 1.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548150)

As a Mac user...

I would not like to see it become #1, unless it was a plurality #1. I don't really care about Apple's profits except that I hope they're enticing enough for apple to keep making useful, pretty things that use unix under the hood, and selling at a price-point that I can afford to buy them. I don't need to have my purchase decision validated by the actions of other consumers.

I think that means they need to be at least a little bit hungry. #1 (at least the way MS is #1) in desktops would not be helpful to that end. 10% is plenty, IMO.

I don't think this would be an issue with a Linux as #1 scenario, as linux isn't a product, it's a field - even in a 90% linux scenario, there would still be dozens of companies all making their own improvements, some of which would get incorporated into the main line over time, and all those companies competing with each other for your custom.

Not quite (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546358)

Linus Torvalds' original goal was not to make a great server OS. It was to be able to run a unix-like OS on his cheap x86 desktop machine.

Re:Not quite (2)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546478)

And Bill Gates' original goal was to sell BASIC for microcomputers. The point being.. so?

Re:Not quite (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547386)

Notice the difference in your claim, and GP's claim.

"Bill Gates' - - to sell - - "

"Linus Torvalds' - - - able to run - - "

So, you grant that Gates is a salesman first, while Torvalds is a hacker, right? I know, the world isn't as I want it to be, but personally, I have almost zero use for a market droid, no matter how rich he might be.

Re:Not quite (2)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547464)

That's just ignorance. You're quoting people at different points of life. Linus said that when he was in school and just had released some piece of code for others to tinker with. Bill Gates had already done school and was starting a business.

You may dislike anyone you want, but at least keep it honest.

Re:Not quite (1, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547728)

Ignorance. An introspective person might wonder if your own attitude isn't born of ignorance. A person's greed is established long before he graduates from high school, or college, or begins his first business.

Bill Gates has never "given" anything to the world. Linus gave away an operating system. Gave it away. He has never charged me a dime for using his kernel, his logo, his name - nothing. He has never even asked me for a penny. Bill? What did he ever "give" me, or you?

Oh, don't bother to tell me about all the "fine work" he is doing now, after he's robbed the world of more billions than he can spend in the rest of his life. NOW, when he's so filthy rich that every bimbo in the world wants to sleep with him, he gives some money to charities. And, what people fail to see there is, he's trying to buy the only immortality that any man can buy. That "Bill and Melissa" foundation will last at least as long as the Carnegie Institute. Immortality, of a sort.

Re:Not quite (1)

mrclisdue (1321513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547840)

+1

Belated "Bravo" for this post.

Should be required reading for all.

cheers,

Re:Not quite (4, Insightful)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548054)

Bill Gates has never "given" anything to the world.

Sorry, Gates may be a dick in many ways, but his charitable foundation is quite big.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates_foundation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not quite (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548170)

Either you failed to read my post, or you failed to understand it, or you just ignored it. I don't guess it matters much. Have your say.

Re:Not quite (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548536)

Yes, it's an about-face for us MS-haters!

I've read some of his articles on humanitarian causes and if he can lobby Congress to do something practical in Africa then all the best, Bill.

Re:Not quite (2)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548114)

What did he give me? He actually inspired me a lot when I was kid and reading his book. He had quite interesting stuff to said about technology and how it's going to be in the future. Apart from that, he also gave me QBasic and Visual Basic which were the first programming languages I learned and used. Indirectly, he also influenced countless of things. I remember when I was learning about game programming, AI, 3D with DirectX and other things as 10-11 years old and it was a fascinating subject. I literally spent my summer holidays reading about those. Coding on days, reading in bed and while on travel. And overally, billions of people use the OS he created. I bet you do too.

You may dislike him, sure. But you can't say he hasn't given anything. He is probably the most influential guy in the history of PC's, either directly or indirectly.

Re:Not quite (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548214)

You are quite young, aren't you? And, like most young Americans (alright, I'll be honest, you're like most Americans, young or old) you are infatuated with the rich.

Again, Gates didn't "give" you anything. Way back in the day, every DOS came with a basic. All of them. An MSDos without Basic wouldn't have sold any more than a cheap car without axles or wheels would sell.

Tell ya what - next time you attempt to explain all the good things that Bill has "given" to the world, pick up a dictionary and look up a few words. "Free", "Gratis", "Gift", and more.

Re:Not quite (2)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548698)

Funnily, I'm not American, I'm Russian.

Re:Not quite (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547958)

And Visual Studio is an important part of what makes Microsoft successful today.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546310)

I think he was remarking on the fact that neither have a massive market share, and they both excel in different areas of the market.

You say "thinking about functions and what user wants to do before technical details [...] is why Apple has always been so successful" and you wouldn't be wrong when you talk about tablets and multimedia devices.
I could easily say the opposite, "thinking about technical details and functionality before what user wants to do [...] is why Linux has always been so successful", and I wouldn't be wrong if we were talking in the context of servers, high-reliability embedded devices, supercomputers etc.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546738)

Huh, I wonder why more people prefer Android, a Linux OS, to say, iOS then.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546990)

because its cheap in the short term, just like Windows

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2)

brillow (917507) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547172)

I think you're missing a subtlety here, Linux users DO want to mess with command line settings and tools.

Apple users don't, and therefore they don't get them. No one tool is best for all jobs or all users.

There is a false dichotomy in technological discussions that technological options can be ranked on a one-dimensional matrix.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547414)

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547484)

i can't read that, too tiny

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547898)

We tell people we use Linux because it's secure....google will tell you the rest of the story, bottom line: Linux is fun.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547506)

Pretty sure you get all the common *nix command line niceties out of the box on OSX - not on iOS tho, of course.

All Mac-using *nix admins I know are rather happy with it (also terminal windows look gorgeous with Monaco).

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548210)

MS and tablet users don't get them.

Apple users still have the command line, and there are some tweaks that can only be done with it in OS X. For instance, many of the sleep/hibernate settings are hidden under pmset, and there are a tone of "defaults write com.apple..." snippets out there.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546544)

lawyers, money, greed, marketing, loose morals, closed controlled expensive source vs free open source.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

picoboy (1868294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548420)

So, why do you think Apple is successful and Linux isn't?

Assuming you are referring to Linux as in "Linux on the desktop", it's because the masses prefer the friendly confines of a walled garden over the freedom to run a lot of half-baked free software. (Sorry, I had a bad day a few weeks ago when the latest kmail2 that ships with Ubuntu 11.10 ate all of my mail, prompting countless wasted hours reinstalling older software, restoring from backups, etc).

If you're referring to Linux in general, the reality is that Linux is actually way more successful than Apple, if you measure success in terms of deployed instances. I have no less than 9 embedded machines running Linux in my household if you include my and my wife's Android phones. Even if I chose iPhones over Android, the score would still be 7 to 2. I suspect even the households of Apple fan-people typically hold more Linux products than Apple products - they just don't realize it.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546254)

Wtf man??? First you make a shill post shilling for MS security and then you shill about Apple elaborately. Who do you support? Or are you anti open source?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1, Redundant)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546268)

Or, good god, maybe I'm not shilling for anyone but can see different companies doing different things better than others and just state my honest opinions about them?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1, Troll)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546276)

That's the worst kind of shilling.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546306)

He shills for the Ducks

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546382)

Mmmm Peking duck.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546318)

Maybe instead of making baseless accusations, you could actually respond to the part of his post that you disagree with?

As someone who works in the Linux desktop world, I don't see anything in his post that seems off-base or even inflammatory.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546540)

Other than the bit of Steve jizz running down the side of his mouth.... absolutely nothing

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546578)

I wouldn't call them "baseless" with such a thought out post appearing the same minute the article goes live (look ma, no subscription!). Check his comment history and see how he always chimes in in first minutes or even the first minute, especially when he can say something good about MS or bad about Google.

Compare with previous [slashdot.org] similar [slashdot.org] accounts, each dropped when next goes live.

Offtopic accusations - may be (though "Uh, no. Linux was even created because Linus wanted a free UNIX like desktop. Since the beginning Linux users have touted how this will be the year of Linux on desktop." silliness is probably modded Informative by his alt), but baseless?..

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546422)

What?! A person with varying opinions that we can't easily pigeonhole? Fuck, we can't have this - release the hounds!

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546272)

Obvious troll is obvious

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546322)

You obviously have no idea what Linux actually is.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2)

Morty (32057) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546354)

You see, from the very beginning ducks have ruled the world.

Yes, a lot of folks just read the first part of the comment and the conclusion. But some people do read the entire comment before replying.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546438)

Freely admit he got me hook line and sinker. I think there must be a certain length of post that makes people think "Sod it, I'll skip to the conclusion". However, it didn't work on my partner because he has to read everything out loud and is quite careful to read every line.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546512)

Oh c'mon -- reading the comments from the oblivious posters is half the fun!

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546360)

Unlike Linux, Apple thinks about user first, and then technical details.

Apple spent many years developing their own Operating System for "the user" before they realised the technical details are important. Then they scrapped the whole thing and started again using an Open Source base (BSD).

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (4, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546394)

Maybe the creators of Linux (and naturally the various flavours of Unix it comes from) also thought about users, but simply had a different subset of users in mind?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546884)

Maybe the creators of Linux (and naturally the various flavours of Unix it comes from) also thought about users, but simply had a different subset of users in mind?

Yes, The subset of users that think about other people in terms of set theory.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547058)

Maybe the creators of Linux (and naturally the various flavours of Unix it comes from) also thought about users, but simply had a different subset of users in mind?

Like ducks?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546412)

Is this supposed to sound completely nonsensical in a satirical way or is this supposed to be serious?

Do you remember when iPhone first came out? No one could figure out what to do with it. It sold magnificently anyway. I had a friend who got one when it first came out. It was just a very expensive phone with no other uses. At that time no one really cared about doing checking twitter feeds and what not on a phone but that's what iPhone was made for anyway. So, tell me how Apple cares about what users want and that's their design philosophy. They did however succeed in showing what was possible with the state of the art technologies beyond what the unsuspecting mass could imagine doing with a phone. This was done with cool design and some innovative approaches. But please stop throwing out BSes like they only care about what their customers want.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546508)

Hell yeah, they don't listen to what the user wants they tell the user what to want.

sales were actually lousy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546596)

At the original $500/$600 price point, the early adopters snapped it up and then sales slowed. Apple had an "emergency" $200 price drop and rebated (coupons?) previous buyers.

It sold noticeably better at $400 and when the price dropped to $200 with subsidy the sales really took off. The app store definitely helped too.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546490)

Talk about yourself not the whole user community, apple products do very little that I want; although i admit when i do use them for nothing I want, it does still look pretty (which is really what apple is about, form over function).

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (5, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546592)

You miss the point. This isn't a users vs tech specs question.

It's a cathedral vs. bazaar question.

The cathedral can pick one priority. The bazaar (by its very nature) cannot.

The bazaar model (and we could debate the extent to which Linux development really follows that model, but as theoretical ideal it's apt enough) implies a set of cooperating interests each pursuing their own goal. In short, the bazaar model gaurantees that the product will be what the people working on it cared about, which may or may not align with their users.

Thus we get things like the kded4 process being permanently unstable because the devs wanted the plug-in modules to work a certain way, and one shitty module brings down all the rest. The user doesn't care about the overhead saved by this model. They just care that their desktop becomes periodically unstable in a way that is nearly impossible to debug. Take your pick of other Linux development problems.

In the cathedral management picks their priorities, and the developers can go defile themselves if they don't like it. That can create the iPad, and it can also create Windows Bob (and the Paper Clip).

The question is, and always has been, which is better overall? While citing best and worst examples from both camps can be illuminating, it does not make for proof that one is better than the other.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547236)

The question is, and always has been, which is better overall? While citing best and worst examples from both camps can be illuminating, it does not make for proof that one is better than the other.

That's probably because both are valid approaches which solve different problems. The Cathedral produces refined solutions which do one thing. The Bazaar produces a multitude of solutions which the Cathedral will knock off in their own image when the market chooses the most popular one[s].

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38548396)

There is a reason why the cathedral went to the moon. It's more efficient than the bazaar.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546678)

It's surprising that Apple was trying stylus-based touch screens back in 1983.

No it isn't. At least in Northern Europe from the late 1970's to the early 1980's, different kind of pointing devices for home computers and computerized home appliances was very fashionable. Including styluses, touch screens (they had metal meshes layered on top of the screen), optical devices that read when the pixel that they where aimed at updated (very popular for shooter games in the mid-1970's, don't know what they are called in English) and digitizer tablets. Apple only had to glance at Europe to find similar devices, made some years prior to this phone.

Then IBM PC clones and MacIntoshes became popular in the mid 1980's (through sly marketing efforts) and the whole computer market was from a technical and UI point of view brought back ten years and most of the UI technology developed before them would be forgotten, although some of it have been reinvented through the "modern" touch phones/pads.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (5, Funny)

pmontra (738736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546722)

I see you've been modded funny but I don't think that it was the aim of your post.

I think you are comparing apples with oranges. Linux is not a company so it doesn't have the same goals as a company. It started as a geek pet project and it's goal was fun and learning. What it does now is providing a kernel to whoever wants to use it. Anyway, with Linux you probably mean the companies or just the geeks building distributions on the top of the Linux kernel and the GNU software, plus Google with their Linux/Android products. Or you might even mean the desktop environments like Gnome, KDE and many others. But if you compare apples with apples, let's say Apple with Canonical, you see that they are moving more or less in the same way. Canonical is even going through the pain of reinventing the UI because they want to be more user friendly.
By the way, I installed the Mint desktop on the Ubuntu 11.10 VM I'm experimenting with because I discovered that I can't stand Unity or Gnome Shell. They're both very unfriendly to me but I understand how they could be better suited to some casual users or (in the case of Unity) to devices with a small screen.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546730)

I see you've been modded funny but I don't think that it was the aim of your post.

You might want to read the "world is ruled by ducks"-part.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547242)

I think you are comparing apples with oranges.

Apples and oranges are both fruit which can be peeled, eaten, juiced, or even separated into slices. That's a stupid saying.

Linux is not a company so it doesn't have the same goals as a company.

Yes, that is the whole point of this thread.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (1)

brillow (917507) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547164)

If they were not concerned with technical details, why was the touchscreen operated by a stylus? Isn't a finger a superior pointing device?

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548248)

If they were not concerned with technical details, why was the touchscreen operated by a stylus? Isn't a finger a superior pointing device?

It is now. But even as late as the mid-1990's, capacitive touchscreens were nowhere near as accurate as resistive touch screens, and resistive touch screens were a lot cheaper. That's why the early Palm Pilots, the Apple Newton, and other similar devices all used a stylus instead of a capacitive touch screen. It's really only quite recently that the capacitive touch screen has been accurate and cheap enough to be used in a device like a phone.

Apple almost certainly thought of their users wanting to use a finger. And finger touch screens did exists (mostly using infra-red), but they either weren't as accurate, or weren't as cheap as resistive screens. :) It's most likely a compromise that's been made to keep costs down.

Re:Really nice looking and interesting phone for 1 (3, Insightful)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547812)

Yeah .. that's exactly why Apple has grabbed the market share in computers and phones. Because it doesn't matter how much it costs as long as the user likes it.

Apple is successful if one defines success as making huge markups on specialty items through the control of most of the hardware, software, and media channels that are needed to use the items.

By that same token, any monopoly can be successful, and that's how Apple operates.

I'm sure the reason this phone never made it because there was no demand for it. Who wants to spend large sums of money for a dedicated computer attached to a phone that can only be used for phone tasks?? Today's smartphones really took off when games and useful apps could be downloaded to them. The costs at the time would have put the phone above $500, hardly available for just anyone as shown by the lack of mobile phones in cars at the time. And the iDrones weren't around yet, so no one was going to go out and buy it simply because it said 'Apple'.

There are many 'concept' items out there that show what companies are thinking. And most of them never show up simply because they cost too much to make for the demand that is expected.

Prior art? (4, Interesting)

Red Herring (47817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546238)

I wonder how many iPhone patents this provides prior art against?

alternatively (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546298)

I wonder how many Nokia/Motorola/HTC/Samsung/Microsoft patents this provides prior art against?

Re:alternatively (4, Insightful)

Red Herring (47817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546340)

I wonder how many Nokia/Motorola/HTC/Samsung/Microsoft patents this provides prior art against?

I'm OK with that too... the sooner everyone realizes that all cell phone patents are "obvious" derivatives of Maxwell Smart's shoe phone, the sooner the lawyers will join the ranks of the unemployed. Flying cars will follow shortly thereafter, I'm told.

Re:Prior art? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546348)

I wonder how many iPhone patents this provides prior art against?

Actually, I see an on-screen keyboard there. The on-screen keyboard landscape is littered with patent landmines. 1983 should be old enough that maybe a few of these could be dispatched - at least enough to have an unencumbered option.

Re:Prior art? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546436)

Forget that, it provides prior art for touch input of all kinds. (All the stylus does is act as a poking stick for the small screen.)

Startrek TNG provides all the prior art needed for changeable touch interfaces,Siri (the enterprise's computer,) even though they really didn't exist in the form they appear on TV. Actually Startrek IV provides the reason for Siri at all.

If you think about it, some of the stuff Apple invented seems eerily similar to the kinds of things that were "easy handwave stage magic." Even (automated) sliding doors and cell phones came out of Startrek hollywood magic.

But because they don't physically and functionally exist, they're not patentable. This Apple phone was something that probably was too expensive or too difficult to produce in quantities at the time.

Re:Prior art? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546534)

Apple didn't invent any of that. You see a picture of an old apple product with a stylus (touch was invented in 1965) and jump to the conclusion they invented everything. Apple didn't even copy Hollywood they just copied other tech companies, kind of what they are trying to sue everyone for now.

Looks a lot like the 2c (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546528)

I can't be the only one who immediately thought of the Apple 2c case when seeing the phone.

Re:Looks a lot like the 2c (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546642)

You're right, you're not the only one who thought that. Anyone who actually read the article would think that as well, because it's mentioned in it.

So there you go. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546610)

Apple invented the telephone. So piss off, Alexander Bell! APPLE4LYFE

Monster Beats (1)

p90xworkoutonline (2510928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546626)

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Uh....slashdot? (5, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546648)

Every post here is just random noise about Apple itself, not about the device.

Was this a working prototype? Did they even have flatpanel displays like that in 1983? What kind of processor would drive the phone? Where the heck would all the internals fit, a 1983 era computer was 10x the volume of this phone "prototype".

I can't imagine that this device was anything but a non-functional "concept" mockup. I don't think it was feasible to build one of these for at least 10-15 years.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (1)

zskelton (1295741) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546688)

Agreed, there are not enough details in the article and it's a prototype. It's just a guess but thinking of the Apple IIC at home, I'm guessing this was not a working model but rather a design idea.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (3, Informative)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546754)

Where the heck would all the internals fit, a 1983 era computer was 10x the volume of this phone "prototype".

The 1981 Sinclair ZX Spectrum would fit inside that phone.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (2)

Centurix (249778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546834)

I expect Apple to announce its new leader to be Sir Clive Sinclair this year. The next product line would be the iC5 followed by white touch screen transistor radios.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546976)

And white touchscren bikes with rounded rectangular wheels!

Re:Uh....slashdot? (4, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547034)

No way. That device doesn't look any larger than a Commodore Plus/4. It was released in 1984, so it would have had prototypes in 1983. The TSR-80 model 100 had an LCD graphics display in 1983. There is no technical reason that the devices couldn't have been made. While the device is interesting from a retro computer prototype point of view, the device is pretty much in line with the kinds of ideas being tried at the time. It isn't some sign that Apple was decades ahead of the competition.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547250)

Handheld organizers with touch screens existed back in the 1980s, and you could pick them up at the flea market for ten bucks. Small computers existed. The Newton, which used a fairly fancy processor, was introduced in 1987. It should not be hard to believe that this was a working prototype.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547772)

Pen based touchscreens did exist. Atari had a pen based touch pad selling product for graphics in 84, and around 85 had a prototype PDA.

I'm sure Apple could have got the hardware together to make it work.

Now, how practical? That is another question.

Re:Uh....slashdot? (2)

rjames13 (1178191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548404)

The stylus technology may have come from the Apple Graphics Tablet [edibleapple.com] . The display is a high res (for the period) B/W LCD.

please (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#38546868)

Can we please stop drooling about office equipment.

What's the next hype? Printers with built-in book-binders? Talking paperclips that can also listen?

Ideas of a feather, congregate together. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546914)

Before the iPhone, Apple's Stunning Phone From 1983

Before everyone gets carried away with patent this and patent that. I'd bet if a lot of companies opened the concepts they were working on but never made, there would be a lot of both cool examples and a lot of similarities.

Wrong title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38546966)

It should say "Before the iPhone, Apple's Stunning Failure From 1983."

Re:Wrong title (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547198)

It wasn't a failure. It wasn't released. A lot of companies R&D make stuff they don't release.
Perhaps they didn't want to go into that market.

On screen keyboard? (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547610)

It's nice but does the on screen keyboard support Swype?
(Yes I am being facetious with EXTRA feces).

This gets posted twice a year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547712)

Old news is so exciting.

Apple ][c (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38547716)

Looks almost like a touch screen version of an Apple][C. Now THAT would have been cool in 1983, perhaps even cooler than the Mac which came out the next year.

no it's steve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38547990)

I though Steve Jobs designed all Apple stuff, because he always go all the credit?

Looks like ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38548634)

... a sleeker version of a Minitel [wikipedia.org] .

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