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A fascinating look at Apple prototypes that were never released

Updated Nov 22nd, 2019 4:31AM EST

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Given Apple’s remarkable success and unrivaled profitability, the company maintains an incredibly streamlined product lineup relative to its size. Whereas some companies tend to throw everything against the wall in a futile effort to see what sticks, Apple tends to be much more judicious when deciding which product category is worth entering.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that the following design principle laid out by Steve Jobs back in 1997 still steers the direction of Apple’s product roadmap.

“I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done,” Jobs said at WWDC in 1997. “Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

That being the case, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Apple often works on any number of prototype devices that will never see the light of day. Whether it’s Apple’s current exploration into manufacturing its own EV or the company’s previous R&D involving HDTV development, many of Apple’s more interesting prototypes will forever remain hidden from public view.

With the recent look that Sonny Dickson provided us regarding one of the first iPhone prototypes — which Apple wisely chose not to implement — Jonny Evans over at AppleMust has put together a rather fascinating look into six Apple prototypes that never managed to ship, many of which were concocted well before Jobs’ return to Apple in the late 90s.

From a Mac Mini with a built-in iPod dock to a forward-thinking tablet/laptop hybrid, the list is well worth checking out for anyone with an interest in Apple history.

As a quick example, below is a photo of the Apple Walt, a product which was designed to be a more intelligent “version of a landline telephone,” complete with a stylus, a touchscreen, fax functionality and more.

Originally unveiled in 1993, the product comically stood for Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone and, again, never amounted to nothing more than vaporware. Interestingly, a prototype unit hit eBay a few years ago and sold for a whopping $8,000.


For anyone interested in a gamut of iPhone prototype photos that ultimately never saw the light of day, make sure to check out our comprehensive listing over here, sourced from legal filings that came to light during Apple’s patent battle with Samsung a few years ago. After all, who would have ever thought that Apple at one point even considered an eight-sided iPhone design?

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.