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Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the blast-from-the-past dept.

Apple 169

Michael writes "For every Apple product we see on the shelves, there are dozens that never make it to production. Sometimes, these rare gems surface on the web for us to take a look at, and ponder what might have been. Scouring through the interweb, I've compiled this list of 5 Apple products that only the most hardcore of hardcore MacAddicts have ever stumbled across. Surprisingly, some of these products, over 10 years old, are still being speculated about in one form or another to this day. Will we see new products based on these old prototypes? It's far more likely that anything resembling the devices listed below have been rebuilt from the ground up, but still, it's fun to look back on the products that didn't make it to the mass market."

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I must ask... (4, Funny)

Slur (61510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044846)

Whatever happened to the iBrator??

Re:I must ask... (3, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044960)

It's coming in 2007, called iPhone. The downside is that someone has to call you to make it work like the iBrator was intended for.

Re:I must ask... (4, Funny)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047554)

If you call yourself is that masturbation.

Re:I must ask... (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045080)

"Whatever happened to the iBrator??"

It never made it to market for fears of chipped teeth being a Mac stereotype.

The iBuzz (2, Informative)

AslanTheMentat (896280) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045232)

Perhaps you were thinking of.... this?

iBuzz Doubles Your iPod Pleasure... []


Re:The iBuzz (3, Informative)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045484)

No, I think he was thinking of the iBrator [] .

Re:I must ask... (2, Funny)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045386)

It got renamed to the Wiimote.

Re:I must ask... (1)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045392)

Beta testers found it oddly unsatisfying.

I can just imagine the commercial... (4, Funny)

OldManAndTheC++ (723450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046680)

"Hi, I'm a PC."

"And (oooo) I'm (mmmm...ahhh!) a Mac.

PenLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044856)

I've got a PenLite in my basement. What's interesting is that it has a pen that contains batteries - its radio-active (as opposed to radio-passive (rfid-ish) or touch screen) and it has great parallax. The software on it (last time I booted it) referenced the apple in store coffee shop and had some sort of handwriting recognition app - but nothing wired up to the OS such that you could write out a memo, for instance. Now, if only I knew how to sell it...

Re:PenLite (1)

EGSonikku (519478) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045768)

Posting non-AC would help ;)

Re:PenLite (1)

TobyRush (957946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046110)

Now, if only I knew how to sell it...

1. Send it to me.
2. ???
3. Profit!

Re:PenLite (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047388)

That business plan is just crazy enough to work!

Re:PenLite (4, Interesting)

able1234au (995975) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046144)

I had access to a Penlite for a while when i was at Apple. At the time it seemed to be a solution looking for a problem. A fun prototype but a bit buggy from memory. There were times when you wanted the keyboard to reset it. The newton felt much cooler to me. I once used a newton to take notes in a developer conference with full handwriting recognition and then went back to the hotel and uploaded the notes to my colleagues. No big deal now but was pretty cool at the time. I still have some of the beta newtons floating around. My kids used them for a while but there was nothing much they could do with them. The Penlite i had to give back when they killed the project. It was verrrrryyyy tempting to keep it as it was pretty unique but i guess they didnt want us showing it to customers.

Re:PenLite (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17046450)

PenLite wasn't the codename, but it was pretty cool. We had one around for a while, as well as a Paladin - (which was based on an '030 PowerBook Duo and worked quite well and was featured in USA Today once upon a time). Like a PowerBook Duo 230 with the display flipped around, facing out.

PenLite used a MacOS 7.1.x version of the Newton OS recog engine. "Rosetta" was on Mac OS long before any of the breathless assholes in the Mac Rumor community ever thought of it.

There was a flip-swivel screen idea for a PowerBook G3 Series companion to Wall Street named Hollywood, but beyond that, I can't go into specifics (even as AC). It never got prototyped.

In fact, there are more projects Apple's kept secret and cancelled than these Mac Rumors jerks have ever guessed at correctly. I wish those folks would just pass silently into the night, because their annoying guesses and speculation on upcoming Apple products are the main reason working there can be such a pain in the ass. Apple used to be pretty fun place to work, but everything in and out is monitored these days - precisely because a few attention-seekers like Jason O'Grady and "Nick DePlume" chose to go into the leak-amplifying business.

The Newton Telephone (3, Informative)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044868)

When the Newton came out in the mid-90s, a lot of people remarked on how much it "looked" like a telephone without buttons. Even the speaker was in just the right place.

Who needs buttons when you've got a touch-screen anyways?

It could even surf the web, with a little help from a nearby Macintosh.

Re:The Newton Telephone (2, Interesting)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045794)

Funny, I still have a Newton modem lying around, no nearby Macintosh needed. Actually, in this clip n-segal-saving-the-world-with-a-newton/?url=http%3 ge-steven-segal-saving-the-world-with-a-newton%2F& frame=true [] you can see Stephen Segal save the world with a Newton. "Dialling Mile High Cafe", a classic line!

Re:The Newton Telephone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045860)

Who needs buttons when you've got a touch-screen anyways?

Anyone who doesn't have an obsessive disorder that requires them to wash their hands every fifteen minutes.

Alternate article title (5, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044878)

"Apple Prototypes: 5 Products Microsoft Never Got To Copy"

I should AC this, but what the hell. What good is karma if you don't spend some now and again? =)

Yep, thats a great way to burn your karma (0, Troll)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045212)

Take a potshot at Microsoft. There's nobody the moderators here will more zealously defend from petty slights, aside from perhaps the RIAA or a convicted serial child rapist.

Re:Alternate article title (5, Funny)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045292)

What good is karma if you don't spend some now and again?

You're kidding right? You really think you're going to take a karma hit for saying MS copies Apple on slashdot?

What's the weather like on your planet?

MOD PARENT DOWN (-1, Redundant)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046004)

and mod this funny ...

Re:Alternate article title (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045310)

More like 'Videophones were a retarded idea then, are a retarded idea know, and are likely to be retarded in the foreseeable future'

This is why I like Apple (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044884)

Apple seems to have a philosophy of "just because we *can*, that doesn't mean we *should*" Many of the products in that article would have been plausible, but incredibly half-assed in terms of practical functionality, given the state of technology at the time. The videophone Newton is a pretty good example of this...sure, it might have worked, but the device was gigantic. Apple has a knack for waiting until tech gets small enough that it will fit into a tight package.

Re:This is why I like Apple (1)

conner_bw (120497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044996)

Re:This is why I like Apple (1)

quizzicus (891184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045254)

Here's the direct link to the slide show [] for the impatient among us.

Re:This is why I like Apple (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045150)

"Apple seems to have a philosophy of "just because we *can*, that doesn't mean we *should*""

That could be said of just about any technology company. Heck, I worked at a really small software company a few years ago and despite a shortage of resources, they invested some time into a variety of products that never saw the light of day. The philosophy was more like "it's neat... but would it sell?" Any project goes through this phase, it's not just some business practice exclusive to Apple. Yeah, stupid products still make it to market, but there's a great deal more that never saw the light of day.

Re:This is why I like Apple (1)

codeshack (753630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045576)

The best thing about the Newton was Steve Jobs' press conference claiming that there was a "2.5 trillion dollar market" for it -- as the Mac Bible put it, "$500 for every man, woman, infant, convicted felon, and sheep herder on Earth".

Re:This is why I like Apple (3, Funny)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046764)

>every man, woman, infant, convicted felon, and sheep herder on Earth
As a sheep herder, I take exception to the implication I am not a man.

Re:This is why I like Apple (5, Informative)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047288)

The best thing about the Newton was Steve Jobs' press conference claiming that there was a "2.5 trillion dollar market" for it

That's very interesting, as Steve Jobs wasn't at the company when Newton was conceived, and killed the division upon returning to Apple in 1997.

Re:This is why I like Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17047472)

The worst thing was when they discontinued the Newton, I was working for a company outside of the US *called* Newton... we would receive phone calls from all over the world trying to source a reliable stock of Newtons from people who has investments in the tech. Some of them got really annoyed when we told them we had nothing to do with Newtons or Apple for that matter. Also from what I understand the company was in neg with Apple to sell the newton domain name for a largist sum... which pretty much ended when the announcment came.

Re:This is why I like Apple (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045632)

Many of the products in that article would have been plausible, but incredibly half-assed in terms of practical functionality, given the state of technology at the time.
I rather wish that the article's author realized that, because the sense of naivete that came off of it was palpable. The design of the WALT in particular is clearly awful: a 'portable' phone big enough to have a touch-screen and a lot of unused space around it, that could send and receive faxes, but didn't have any apparent keyboard interface for writing outgoing faxes.

Re:This is why I like Apple (4, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046474)

but didn't have any apparent keyboard interface for writing outgoing faxes.
You don't know how a fax machine works, do you?

Re:This is why I like Apple (2, Informative)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046460)

Many of the products in that article would have been plausible, but incredibly half-assed in terms of practical functionality, given the state of technology at the time.
It's also because of mistakes in the article. The PowerBop certainly wasn't a prototype (and certainly wasn't for *Internet* access) but was a wireless modem sold in France for the local BeBop wireless phone system that was briefly deployed in cities prior to the availability of GSM cell phones and as an unexpensive alternative to the analog car radio phones. The modem card could be fitted in the Powerbooks sold at the time (can't remember the bandwidth you got with it though, probably around 9kb).

The BeBop system worked a bit like a cell phone system except that you could only initiate calls, not receive them. Also you couldn't switch cells while connected to the network. On the other hand it wasn't very expensive and you could get a base to hook up to your ground line so you could use your handset at home as a regular phone.

You could usually spot the areas covered by the BeBop network by the little striped blue and green stickers on the water chutes of the buildings (there are still some leftover). I seem to remember BeBop lasted about 4 or 5 years before it was retired. Despite its numerous limitations it was quite popular at the time. Even the Mac modem sold fairly well with the diehard Mac geeks. AFAIK it was the only wireless modem ever created for that system.

what ever happened to the iFuck? (-1, Flamebait)

Asshat_Nazi (946431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044892)

btw, i ate out your grandpa's ass



I was still in High School, I had a big cock and was horny all the time, jerked off at least 3 times a day. My body is small and slim with very little hair, 5"4",125lbs. My fat cut 7" cock looked huge on me. I had been jerking off thinking about gay sex lately, I was very turned on by the fantasy of having sex with an older man, and having a cock in my ass.

I got a job working after school and weekends at a antique shop, it was ran by 2 older gay gentleman, very nice gentleman who were always flirting and teasing me. An older very distinguished looking handsome customer came in the store, he was a silver haired fox who looked like he had money.

The owners knew him well, he bought a small end table and asked the owners if I could help him unload it at his house, I thought this was kind of suspicous since it didn't weigh much but my horniness and curiousity made me jump at the chance. We rode in his SUV to a big house in a ritzy neighborhood and I carried the end table into his house. He gave me a tour, it was huge and very nice, there was an indoor hot tub and he asked me if I wanted to soak for a while, I told him I didn't have a swim suit and he laughed and told me I could go without, he always did.

I was getting turned on so I started to undress, my tank top came off first and my back was turned to him and I pulled down my cutoffs, no underwear and bent over to finish removing my cutoffs, it was a turn on to expose my ass to him, he watched me climb into the hot tub, my cock was rock hard. I watched him take off his shirt, he had a sexy chest covered with silver hair, he pulled down his pants and underwear in one motion exposing a beautiful 8" cut cock, very fat. We sat in the tub for five minutes talking, he asked me if I wanted a massage, I moved over close to him with my back to him and sort of sat on his lap, I could feel that big cock, I started moving my ass around until it was between my cheeks, I moved up and down, it felt so hot, made my asshole spasm. He was rubbing my shoulders and back, he reached around and started massaging my inner thighs making my cock twitch, finally he started stroking my cock, I was so turned on it was all I could do not to cum. He had me stand up and started tonguing my ass while stroking my cock, I was in pleasure overload and exploded cum after about two minutes of this.

We went into his bedroom, still naked and dried off, he put his hands on my shoulders and gently pushed me to my knees, grabbed the back of my head and guided me to his cock. I sucked on it hungrily feeling it get harder in my mouth, when he was rock hard he guided me to the bed and had me lay on my stomach. He ate my ass again this time harder, getting his tongue up inside me, this made my cock hard again, I relaxed and felt my boypussie open up. Next he slowly inserted one of his fingers , it kind of hurt at first but then I started to love the feeling. Two fingers was next with some lube, he two finger fucked me for along time, I loved how it felt, like I was getting stretched. I was moaning and moving my ass up and down.

He stopped and put his big cock back in my mouth, I sucked him for maybe a minute and he pulled out and rolled on a condom, had me get down doggie style got behind me and pushed that big cock head against my tight hole. He slowly pushed, I thought it was to big and would never fit, all of a sudden it popped in, the sensation took my breath away, it felt so huge and it hurt a little, but I was starting to relax and it was feeling better by the second.

He slowly pushed in until he was deep inside me and moved in and out very slowly to start with, it still burned but the thought of getting fucked, having a big cock inside me was such a turn on.

He fucked me for a long time, after I got used to it and fully relaxed the feeling was pure pleasure. My cock was rock hard.

The pace got faster and harder, finally I came again, without even touching my cock, such intense pleasure. He came and stayed inside me, I layed flat on my stomch with him still inside me, he slowly went limp, slipped out of me and rolled off me.

Re:what ever happened to the iFuck? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045124)

You should go see a shrink, pronto.

Re:what ever happened to the iFuck? (1)

Redlazer (786403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045842)

Why mod this guy down?

I agree with him 100%, the poster above probably should go see one.


Re:what ever happened to the iFuck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17046012)

amen brother, that was beautiful. please post more in your journal.

Wow (1)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044912)

I'd sure like to get my hands on one of the Paladin thingies. If I ever wanted to start up a small business, I could keep that little puppy on my desk, not to mention I would have a blast programming it. I think with a little adaptation I could seamlessly integrate a lot of important business applications without having to rely on much overhead or security risk lost to network transmission.

On the other hand, I'd hate to think of what would happen to me if it broke. :-/

Re:Wow (5, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045120)

I'd sure like to get my hands on one of the Paladin thingies.

I think Paladins have vows to stop you getting your hands on their thingies. That and the time it takes to get the plate mail off.

Re:Wow (0)

vga_init (589198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046066)

dblll FTW!!!

Re:Wow (1)

gwyrdd benyw (233417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045950)

On the other hand, I'd hate to think of what would happen to me if it broke. :-/

Yeah, how would you call tech support?

iGirl (4, Funny)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044926)

it was a prototype female that was attracted to long hair, lonely, coders who spend their nights writing open source software, planning to overthrow the evil empire, and have enough computing power to siumultaneously recompile their kernel while playing Quake 3. And she was supposed to be eager to watch the entire Star Wars collection on DVD, but only if he got it to play on his linux box.

Didn't work. Even Steve Jobs can only do so much.

Re:iGirl (0)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046484)

Nah, they exist, but they were only released in a very limited number. And no, you can't have mine ;-P

Incomplete list (4, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044932)

They forgot to list the following products:

- iZune, the modest mp3 player.
- iPond, the relaxing garden equipment.
- iPple, an actual Californian apple with a fancy name.
- iCar, the fancy, white car with an iPod scroll wheel instead of a regular steering wheel.
- iBus, same as above, just bigger. Intended for hip schools.
- iShmael, the iPod designed for Amish, relies on two horses to power it.
- iLonium 210, the perfect Russian killer (designed during the cold war).

Re:Incomplete list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045040)

There needs to be a way to mod something "-l Unfunny"

Re:Incomplete list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045052)

That third product is missing an N in the beginning.

Re:Incomplete list (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045824)

- iPple, an actual Californian apple with a fancy name.

I'm not sure I'd eat anything labeled as an "ipple"

Re:Incomplete list (1)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045920)

only if you find the missing "N"

Re:Incomplete list (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046280)

Nipples are great when sauteed in butter, and served on a bed of hot grits.

PDA (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17044946)

Why the heck can't they just make a decent PDA and be done with it? They had a decent start with the newton then just chucked it out! If it could dock with a normal screen and keyboard easily, possibly with wireless, it could do double duty as some sort of internet appliance at home as well. We have all that is necessary today to pull this off tech-wise. Sure, there's a ton of smaller cellphone thingamajobbies out there, and all their various iPod gizmos, but I think there's still a market for a real PDA if it was built with apple's eye for function.

iPhone? (3, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046626)

Apple pushed on the Newton for quite some time. It did OK, but they were a little too expensive for the time, and a little too bulky for a normal pants pocket.

Unfortunately, things really took off with the Palm Pilot... which dumped functionality for a form that was actually convenient and fit in a pocket. Sound familiar? I say unfortunately, because 3Com / Palm clearly hasn't had the legs to keep running with it. Now the pure PDA are has the Palm Pilot on the low end, MS's Pocket PC on the high end, and a gamut of random stuff like Psions in the middle. And it looks like the market is shrinking.

Personally, I've had many PDA's, and liked them all. They were replaced by a Treo, until the shoddy build quality dragged that phone into nothingness. Since the Treo, I've used a standard phone with a unlimited use network plan. Now when I need to make an appointment, I just go to Text input with the phone pad is worse than with the Treo's excellent keyboard, but typing in appointments at my normal computer works perfectly.

I suspect that apple is working on something WRT the iPhone. It would make perfect sense for an iPhone to sync automatically with iCal. It could be more of an Apple Communicator or something like that, with phone functionality relegated the same status as text messaging, calendar functions, and purchasing music from iTunes.

There isn't a lot of room left in the space between a dedicated PDA [] and an ultralight computer [] . Apple would need to go a different direction.

Re:iPhone? (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046740)

Personally i think the whole PDA/palmtop scene died off when Psion gave it up, and is yet to be ressurected. I still have a Revo but alas as i no longer take the train to/from work i've little excuse to use it nowadays. Mono screen, insanely usefull-but-simple office suite (with auto convert to MS office formats), small but not too small qwerty keyboard AND a touch screen.

Someone out there should take a long hard look at what made the revo good (and the nokia communcator bad (clunky, bad tiny keyboard keys)) throw in more ram, wifi and a headphone socket (but leave out the bloody camera, phone and kettle) and i'd buy one tomorrow.

Re:iPhone? (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047434)

Yeah, I loved my Revo+. Sure, I still have it but the battery is dead. I recall using my Revo+ to read my email connected over IR to my cellphone. Sweet times.

Well, until it died of course... and took away a shitload of stuff that I hadn't backed up yet. That was of course my own fault, but well...

The PDA I had before that was a Psion Siena, which I got for free from someone that upgraded to a Series 5mx. Before the Siena, I had an Atari Portfolio [] ... The Portfolio was one of the coolest devices that I ever had....

Apple PenLite (5, Interesting)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#17044984)

I wish apple would do something like that now, a convertible tablet mac. That is the only thing holding me back from buying a macbook pro, as I would miss the tablet features of my fujitsu.

Re:Apple PenLite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17047386) []

watching the video makes me realize that apple's expose is a great feature for tablet PCs that windows just doesn't offer.

you're right, apple needs to make a tablet. maybe they're waiting for the technology to be better?

6. Heterosexuality (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045034)


Other Apple prototypes (2, Informative)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045060)

In addition to the items in the article, my research has come up with several other items that Apple prototyped but never manufactured. These include:

The iCorvair - Apple's first and only attempt at making a car. It was similar to the Volkswagen in that it was to appeal to the same market and had it's engine in back. Unofrtunately, a design flaw in the suspension gave it a tendency to flip over going around corners.

The eLisa - This was an Apple Lisa with a special AI user interface that emulated a psychiatrist. Focus groups found it annoying to be asked probing, personal questions while trying to get things done, so the project was dropped.

The iPod Cathode - So named for it's use of four EL84 vacuum tubes in the circuit that drives the headphones, this iPod variant had a short battery life and there was no way to dissassemble it to service the tubes.

The Mac Maxi - The end all and be all Macintosh. This was a fully partitionable powerhouse mainframe computer that was the size of a dishwasher (mechanical, not Mexican) with EMC disk drives, a built-in Caterpillar diesel UPS, and it's own recirculated glycol cooling system. This was to be the conceptual opposite of the Mac Mini, but the project was scrapped after the prototype tipped over and killed someone.

The Apple 0 - (pronounced Apple-Naught) This precursor to the Apple I featured a 74LS00 chip hammered into a block of wood as the main processor and had two modes of functionality, called "on" and "off". Users could tell when they were in the "on" mode by the glowing of a small grain-of-wheat light bulb.

Edit? HELL YES. (2, Funny)

sudotcsh (95997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045158)

Man, I saw the words 'edit post' in the URL to that story and I got all excited, thinking about how I was gonna go change it to reference Apple products like the Apple Post-It Notes [] and the iBrator [] and the iZune or whatever ... then once I found out I couldn't edit the post I got all sad.

Then I started thinking about the iBrator and Ellen Fleiss again and all was well.

Re:Edit? HELL YES. (2, Funny)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045918)

Then I started thinking about the iBrator and Ellen Fleiss again and all was well.

I think you're confusing two icons: Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood madam, Ellen Feiss, teenage Mac switcher. The first is a bit skanky these days, the latter is probably legal now.

Missing from the list... (4, Interesting)

dgrisman (974104) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045166)

Copland. From Macworld, July 1995: "A fundamental reworking of the Mac system software is in the works--Macworld reveals how this will make the Mac even better It will do more. It should crash less and use less RAM. It will automate more tasks and reduce desktop clutter. "It" is the next generation of the Macintosh Operating System, a major reworking of the Mac OS. Due in mid to late 1996, this as-yet-unnamed successor to System 7.5, code-named Copland, promises to boost productivity by making the Mac OS operate more efficiently, by building automation into common tasks, by incorporating many features that ..." (Any wonder why Win95 got a leg up on Macs when it launched?) MacUsers everywhere should bow their heads and thank Gil Amelio for killing Copeland and apologize profusely for allowing Steve Jobs for ignominously have him ousted after he cleaned up the excesses on Infinite Loop.

Re:Missing from the list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045356)

Good addition. It would be interesting to see where Apple would have been if Copland made it out the door. Would we still have the unix-based OS X that we do today? Hmm.

Re:Missing from the list... (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045494)

Copland was a great idea that miscarried due to second system syndrome.

Re:Missing from the list... (1)

dgrisman (974104) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045646)

Agree. I think that conceptually, Copland has been realized in Mac OSX. The irony of these other hardware "diversions" listed in the article is that they nearly killed Apple. Everyone was focused on cool gadgets. Meanwhile, the OS languished. Theres a parallel with the ephemeral IPhone Mac Users pine for today. I think what everyone doesn't understand about the Iphone is that it's not just a device, but an OS, too. In that space, Apple will be competeing with Palm, Symbian, and WinMobile, who all have working OSs in devices currently marketed. Unless they have an OSX Mobile OS ready to go and that has at least all the features/functionality of the others, I don't see how the IPhone is viable.

Swing for the fences (3, Interesting)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045182)

This is the Apple I like. When most other computer companies were making clones, Apple was doing R&D and making some nifty stuff. Granted, they also almost went broke, but I still liked the attitude, even if there were management problems, turf wars, and whatnot. The balance has shifted somewhat away from R&D, which was obviously needed, but I don't think the balance is quite right yet... I'd like to see more things along these lines from Apple. They've got money now. It wouldn't kill them to swing for the fences a few times.

Re:Swing for the fences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045856)

Yeah - it's easy to forget how cool it was when you could just plug'n'play a NuBus card while PC users were still setting ISA jumpers. (Or Superdrive floppies, or a bunch of other firsts.) But those platform advances didn't pay off. Wintel slowly caught up to each innovation, and with greater economies of scale.

The iPod was a homerun of the modern era. But you wait around a while and zuner or later they catch up again...

Pippin (4, Interesting)

cybercyph (221022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045228)

What about the Apple Pippin, their video game console? []

Re:Pippin (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045968)

this is stuff that never made it past R&D... the Pippen actually was made and sold for a VERY limited time.

Get with the program, Apple! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045236)

I have been waiting 20 years for a Knowledge Navigator [] !!

Where and when did Apple go so wrong?

CAPTCHA of the comment: reprieve

Now it can be told... (4, Interesting)

ktakki (64573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045266)

Every, and I mean every company has products under development that never see the light of day.

Case in point: mid-'90s, I did a lot of 3D animation and multimedia production. One of my clients was DEC, the Digital Equipment Corporation. Some of the presentations I created for them were for products like the DEC Dove, a tablet/laptop that could use wireless to connect to other DEC Doves in a conference room (this was 1994, before wireless was a standard and about when tablet computing first appeared).

I was lent a prototype of the Dove (cost: $50,000, delivered by an armed guard) in order to digitize it and create a 3D model. The operating system was something akin to PalmOS, and the screen would automatically rotate from landscape to portrait mode when the screen was opened. I had only the one example, so I can't say how the wireless function worked, but it never crashed on me, which is a lot to say for a prototype.

There were other DEC projects, none of which got past the stage of painted foamcore models, like a network-attached storage appliance that was about the size of an abridged dictionary. Again, this was 1994, and I didn't see an equivalent product in the marketplace for another 7 or 8 years. That one was ahead of its time, since most of the networks I worked with back then were 10Base2, chugging along at 10Mbps. NAS at that speed would be all but useless for anything but small Word docs.

I could go on about what killed DEC, but I'd rather let DEC ex-employees tell that story.


Re:Now it can be told... (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046570)

it never crashed on me, which is a lot to say for a prototype.

Being a DEC product it probably had something like RSX inside. It will only crash if a device fails. But a good UI is way too much to expect.

Re:Now it can be told... (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046748)

DEC had some cool stuff. I was lucky enough to go to their UK R&D labs once and they had some stuff which isn't so impressive now but back in 1989 when I went, it was seriously impressive stuff. A lot of it was various multimedia type stuff but the one that impressed me was a database engine that let you store video in tables - great for e.g. estate agents (real-estate). They also had a video digitizer that worked a frame at a time using fractal compression.

Re:Now it can be told... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047644)

That one was ahead of its time, since most of the networks I worked with back then were 10Base2, chugging along at 10Mbps. NAS at that speed would be all but useless for anything but small Word docs.

Computers were awfully slow back then. We ran NFS mounted root drives over Ethernet all the time. The system wasn't impacted that greatly because drives weren't a whole lot faster anyway. You could run dozens of machines without local storage booted off an ethernet segment without major problems.

Greatness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17045368)

Greatness ... They were way ahead of the times on many things. Too bad these never made it mass production.

Just 5 of soo many (3, Informative)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045464)

First off, the list of 5 is really a 5- more list, there are numerous others listed by the same author on the same website in other articles.

And yes, there are many more items, from the workstations developed with Apollo, the clients with Wang, the Pippin game machine, etc.

Then there's the technologies like Hotsauce, Cyberdog, OpenDoc, and of course Newton, all of which got into demo or even release but never really made it. And of course the first post-Next version of MacOS which was to be interoperable with MS Windows (not the Star Trek Windows-on-Mac but a MS Windows-based MacOS layer).

It's really remarkable the amount of technology Apple has pumped out, and of that how much have proven remarkably prescient. Whenever folks complain about how much attention Apple gets I always point out it is because they truly do innovate & lead the market (their small market share notwithstanding)

Oh, want links to all of the nouns above? Try using your search-engine-of-choice with Apple and whichever it is strikes your fancy - lots of nifty stuff.

Re:Just 5 of soo many (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046542)

Newton was pretty big. It basically gave us the pen computing we have today.

It wasn't, say, Windows big. But it doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the Pippin.

On Video Phones (2, Interesting)

Doomstalk (629173) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045556)

Video phones failed because people have come to realize that they DON'T WANT to be seen. In his novel Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace puts it very nicely: "It turned out that there was something terribly stressful about visual telephone interfaces that hadn't been stressful about voice-only interfaces. Videophone consumers seemed suddenly to realized they've been subject to an insidious buy wholly marvelous delusion about conventional voice-only telephony. They'd never noticed it before, the delusion --- it's like it was so emotionally complex that it could be countenanced only in the context of its loss. Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you to not have to pay anything close to complete attention to her."

Proto iMac (Lamp-arm) used articulated neck (5, Informative)

gsfprez (27403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045588)

a few of my friends (okay, all of the groomsmen in my wedding) work(ed) at Apple. One of them showed me one of the iMac (with the lamp arm) prototypes.

It was the basic iMac lamp you know, but it didn't have a shiny Luxo-like arm. What it did have was fully articulated arm... that is, it moved like snake-light, except that it didn't have tension built in. It was totally fluid and you could move the monitor to just about any angle and direction you wanted.

The trick was, there was a paddle behind the monitor on the right side of the mount - you pulled on it like a flappy-paddle gearshift behind the steering wheel on some new cars. When you did, the arm would go totally limp, with all the weight of the monitor in your hands, and when you released the paddle, the arm went totally stiff - like some kind of magic potion turned the snake-arm into stone.

I don't know what kind of clutch it used to do that, but it was really eerie. One moment, you could pull and push and pretty much move the monitor however you wanted, and the moment you let go - BAM - the round base and the monitor and the arm were magically a one-piece device - rock solid and totally stable.

While quite interesting as a design concept - it was rightly rejected. First of all, it totally ruined the lines of the monitor (bah me if you want, but its true) on the back and made it look like some kind of weird bike/computer thing. Secondly - and most importantly - even if you were warned "Look, the weight is going to go from zero to 15 pounds in a microsecond, so be sure to hold on tight" - you'd still end up pulling the handle, it would crash land on the bottom of the monitor frame like a ton of bricks on the keyboard below. I was warned, and i did it. The break point wasn't at the beginning or the end of the pull - which was about and inch and a half of travel. Unlike a car clutch, which has a smooth and vague transition, this went from on to off like a light - and the problem was that the weight of the monitor also went from zero to everything in your hands that fast as well.

In the end, Apple is the quintessential engineering house.. they start off with the user in mind totally, then they throw out whatever doesn't work, even if it cost a ton of money to develop.. then, they develop and maintain contingencies on the off chance that they'll totally change direction.

That's why they are kicking ass and why their stuff is worth more than they charge for it and why they can't make their shit fast enough.

Re:Proto iMac (Lamp-arm) used articulated neck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17047320)

I saw the same device.

It was cool, but cost too much to make - and was thus reworked into the Luxo-armed iMac.

Strangely enough, the person who showed it to me was also in my wedding. Small world.

Re:Proto iMac (Lamp-arm) used articulated neck (1)

muttoj (572791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047424)

This technic is now used in car suspensions. The tube is filled with oil and very small iron particles. In normal condition it's fluid but when magnetised is stiffens up. The new Ferrari uses this.

Yawn (1)

gordgekko (574109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045630)

Am I the only one who was utterly underwhelmed by those five products? Most seemed to try and solve multiple problems poorly instead of solving one or two very nicely.

I know where all the WALTS are (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045642)

Didn't I see that WALT device attached to a fancy Japanese toilet? Couldda sworn...
But thank God they cancelled crappy products that didn't function correctly before they made it to market unlike most other companies *cough cough Sony cough*

Re:I know where all the WALTS are (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046300)

Didn't I see that WALT device attached to a fancy Japanese toilet?

It wouldn't surprise me, as it was designed for a wizzy lifestyle.

Apple's been doing this forever ... (4, Informative)

SickLittleMonkey (135315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045930)

... even to those of us who used the Apple II before the Mac.

There was the Apple II Ethernet card. (Production ready, Announced, Hyped, Cancelled.)

There was the Apple IIGS / Mac hybrid, which would have allowed an upgrade path for Apple II software owners (e.g. schools) to keep their investment and slowly migrate to the new Mac platform. (Cancelled.)

There was the Apple IIGS "Mark Twain", with hard disk, SCSI, SIMMs. (Production ready, Cancelled.)

There was the "GUS" Apple IIGS software emulator for Mac OS. (Almost complete, Never released.)

Apple makes great stuff. But every generation of Apple users should expect to be screwed in the wrong hole at least once. Obsoleting your latest purchase by switching CPUs for example ...


Re:Apple's been doing this forever ... (2)

evamedia (997482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046630)

errr, which CPU change obsoleted your latest purchase? Apple have transitioned pretty well over all their changes 68040 / PPC - PPC / Intel and the software one as well OS9 / OS X

I remember seeing a Paladin... (1)

jerk (38494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045956)

...when I was in training for Apple Service with Kodak. I knew it was a prototype and was almost able to take it home. It was a very cool concept, almost reminded me of a Powerbook Duo strapped to a fax machine.

Where are the cable boxes? (2, Informative)

solios (53048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17045996)

Seriously. I have five of them (quadra 605 and 610-based, plus MPEG board) in my basement. Apple put some serious effort into developing a cable/set-top box prototype, but it never went to market.... and I'd have more to say on the matter if I could actually read the contents of the one hard drive that came with the lot.

The propable functionality has likely been superceded by the tv shows on ITMS, but that isn't the point.

mod do3n (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17046206)

haNdy, you are free surprise to the

The prototypes would probably still beat Zune (1)

kerouacsgp (516242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046244)

I would think that if Apple decide to release any of the prototypes for sale, they would still beat the Zune in sales.

Amazing (-1, Offtopic)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046282)

Amazing that this is news, yet the current serious DMG security problem [] presently affecting OSX does not appear on /. at all, not even buried in the Apple section. Strange huh? Even the BBC is reporting on it. []

The Register [] is reporting that Apple have released some security updates, yet the DMG issue is unpatched.

/. positive OSX bias? Shurely not.

Re:Amazing (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046332)

Not really. Come back when you can link to someone who has been exploited by it. Deliberately downloading and using such a corrupted dmg doesn't count.

Re:Amazing (2, Funny)

Lorkki (863577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046896)

Deliberately downloading and using such a corrupted dmg doesn't count.

Yeah, as if any users could ever be foolish enough to deliberately download and install malware.

Oh look, this nice-looking program seems to be free...

Bad names... (1)

DaitanGio (72247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046462)

All these stuff seems to me nice, but with very bad names.
And John did not like bad names :)

Ahead of its time.. (5, Funny)

kauttapiste (633236) | more than 7 years ago | (#17046926)

This made me laugh:

"..the GMS based service was extremely buggy, and moving from service area to service area caused an almost constant loss of signal.
The device was ahead of its time."

Yeah, ahead of its time indeed! It was clearly anticipating the features of the latest 3G phones.

PowerBop not a prototype (3, Informative)

antoinec (1033792) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047306)

I bought a PowerBop around 1994 (don't recall the date exactly) and still own it! It is probably a relatively rare system as Apple made few of them.

The PowerBop was a high-end PowerBook with a MC68030 and a 68882 FPU (a must have at the time!). The system was running at 33Mhz and had active matrix display.

The interesting part was the built-in Wireless Modem. Being fairly large, the modem was replacing the floppy drive (an external floppy drive was included in the package). A small antenna was visible on the right of the laptop.

The PowerBop modem was using a wireless phone network deployed by France Telecom in 1991 called Bi-Bop.

The Bi-Bop service was based on a rather clever and simple idea. France Telecom installed numerous access points in large cities in France. The access points and mobile phones were nothing more than enhanced digital cordless phones.

Using this light infrastructure, France Telecom was in position to be one of the first companies to offer a (relatively) low cost mobile phone service.

The PowerBop was connecting to the service just like a regular Bi-Bop mobile phone. At 14,400 bps, the speed was pretty good especially for a wireless connection.

All of this made the PowerBop a very innovative system. Picture this: sitting outside of french café checking your emails, surfing on BBS and getting faxes! In early 1990's it was the killer feature!

Even better, France Telecom also sold private access points to install in your home. Meaning that your Bi-Bop phone was becoming a regular cordless phone when used at home.

This was also working with the PowerBop. I was surfing at home with a wireless laptop in the early 90s! The ultimate geek toy!

It is interesting to see that 15 years later, there is no unified service offering phone and wireless networking at home and in the street...

PS: my first post on Slashdot!

Re:PowerBop not a prototype; I have one (2, Informative)

buserror (115301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17047532)

I have a Powerbop (with my stack of "collector" powerbooks). It's a Powerbook 180 with a wireless modem allright, but the data was only 9600 at best (possibly less) and there was no email at the time, unless you had your own private access. There were no fully fledged commercial ISPs in france until some time later. Apple "innovation" had not foreseen the tcp/ip and the internet and at the time, "MacTCP" was pretty lame.
So with powerbop, you could connect to classic BBSes and do faxes, but mostly all you could do was access the Minitel network, at a premium...
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