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Apple’s 1983 Touchscreen Phone Prototype (25 Years Before the iPhone!)

Posted in Apple, iPhone, News on 30/12/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler

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Apparently Apple was working on the idea of a touchscreen phone way back in 1983, even before the Macintosh was released. An interesting new prototype has surfaced, designed by Hartmut Esslinger – a desk phone with a complete touchscreen interface.

Esslinger, the co-founder of Frog Design, was contracted by Apple in a 1 million dollar annual deal to produce design concepts. Esslinger also worked with Apple on other projects, including the Apple IIC.

In 1982 he entered into a $1 Million dollar a year contract with Apple Computer to create Apple’s design strategy. The result was the Apple “Snow White design language” which was applied to all Apple products from 1984 to 1990 including the Apple IIc and the Macintosh.

The image comes from a gallery of images posted by Fudder. The original image is owned by Frog Design, although Fudder doesn’t reveal how they obtained the image.

It’s pretty fascinating to think that Apple was working on a phone, even a touchscreen phone, two and a half decades before the iPhone was released.



  • http://twitter.com/iAidan Aidan Taylor

    First of all thats not a prototype, its a product and it failed just like there other 3 touch pen devices. Second its nothing new i seen it years ago so i dont see why this is even news, also i would like to mention the first touch screen pen device was all the way back in 1980, the first multitouch device was by Samsung in 2001 which they then sold licences for the technology.

    • lucas823

      Samsung did not create the first multitouch device. Multitouch had been researched since the 80’s, and the first commercial product that I know of came out in 1998 from a company called Fingerworks. What became of that company? It was bought by apple. who used their patents and technology to make the iphone.

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      Actually, no. It is a prototype. Never produced or publicly sold.

J. Glenn Künzler

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.