X

New book reveals Apple prototypes of the 1980s

A new book sheds light on some Apple products that never were.

Joe Svetlik
macphone.jpg
1 of 6

You may be pretty pleased with your iPad and iPhone, but look at what we could've had. These designs, first reported by Designboom, are prototype Apple products that never saw the light of day. They've been collected for the first time in a book by Hartmut Esslinger, a designer who worked at Sony and Louis Vuitton before starting at Apple in 1982.

Esslinger knocked up some of the most iconic Apple products of the 1980s, but here we can see the ones that never made it to the shop shelves. There's an Apple desk phone with a screen. A small Mac desktop. And even a tablet concept. Talk about ahead of his time.

In 1982, Apple was in crisis. Company CEO Michael Scott had different business divisions for each product line, each with its own head of design. That meant Apple devices didn't look anything like each other. It was a 28-year-old Steve Jobs who brought in Esslinger to create a design language which would inform how Apple's products looked.

Sony was a big inspiration to Jobs, with one idea being 'what would Sony do if it built computers?' Jobs "felt that Sony's simple cool design language should be a good benchmark, and Sony was the current pacesetter in making high-tech consumer products smarter, smaller and more portable," Esslinger writes. (In its recent trial with Samsung, Apple revealed some prototypes that drew inspiration from Sony products, too.)

Instead of aping Sony, Esslinger pioneered the 'snow white' design language that soon became Apple's staple. And the rest, as they say, is history. Esslinger's book is called Design Forward, and is out now for around £24.

What do you think of these early designs? Would you like to see any of them made real? And how is Apple faring in the era after Steve Jobs? Let me know what you think in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Hartmut Esslinger

"It's the 1980s, they want their phone back"
tablet.jpg
2 of 6
An iPad nearly 30 years early
sonystyle.jpg
3 of 6
A Sony-style desktop
babymac.jpg
4 of 6
Mac Mini, anyone?
lisa1.jpg
5 of 6
The Lisa Workstation
macbook.jpg
6 of 6
And a MacBook

More Galleries

2023's Best TV and Streaming Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More
mandalorian-3-social.png

2023's Best TV and Streaming Shows You Can't Miss on Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus and More

62 Photos
Audi Activesphere Is a Transforming All-Terrain EV
Audi Activesphere concept

Audi Activesphere Is a Transforming All-Terrain EV

51 Photos
Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)
yamaha01.jpg

Yamaha motorcycle and instrument designers trade jobs (pictures)

16 Photos
CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)
dia-de-los-muertos-3318-001.jpg

CNET's 'Day of the Dead Devices' altar (pictures)

9 Photos
2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars
conceptss01_440.jpg

2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: concept cars

14 Photos
Best sound bars under $300
polk-magnifi-mini-15.jpg

Best sound bars under $300

18 Photos
2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty
2018 Ford F-150 diesel

2018 Ford F-150 Power Stroke reports for diesel duty

22 Photos