Apple phone prototype from 1983 shows an all touchscreen interface

A prototype of an Apple phone has been uncovered and it dates all the way back to 1983. Designer Hartmut Esslinger came up with the design whilst working for Apple on other projects such as the Apple IIc. Wikipedia has it noted that Esslinger was contracted to Apple in a $1,000,000 a year deal.

In 1982 he entered into an exclusive $1,000,000 per year contract with Apple Computer to create a design strategy which transformed Apple from a "Silicon Valley Start-Up" into a global brand. Setting up shop in California for the first time, Esslinger and Frogdesign created the "Snow White design language" which was applied to all Apple product lines from 1984 to 1990, commencing with the Apple IIc and including the Macintosh computer.

This information is confirmed in the recent Steve Jobs biography too but there was no mention of an Apple phone prototype. Looking at the picture, it is obviously a fixed line phone rather than a mobile device. It is interesting to note that even in the early 1980’s the device still has some form of touch input; even if it was via a stylus!

Source: iPhoneFreakz via iClarified, Wikipedia



UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

More Posts



← Previously

Daily Tip: How to use Restrictions to prevent deleting 3rd party apps from the Home screen

Next up →

Return of the Best Buy iPhone 4 32GB BOGO

There are 11 comments. Add yours.

Antonio Nesic says:

This is just a proof that some ideas are developed years before they are actually ready to use due to technological progress and advancement. iOS i basically MicroOSX ... I wonder how many years did it actually take to make such a port. Though it's always pleasure to see how innovative Apple truly was all these years.

SockRolid says:

You want prior art? We got your prior art right here.

Richard B says:

Must be a slow week if you are digging up news about prototypes we have known about for the good part of a decade.

Guest says:

Speak for yourself. If you don't like a post then skip over it.

Richard B says:

Just pointing out that it is more of a nostalgia piece than a headline... it was mentioned on sites such as Engadget as far back ago as 2006 and in a Frog Design book in 2001.
More pics and other prototype are available here:

Kevin A says:

To Richard B. please do not speak for everyone...I'm new to the Apple community. Thanks TIPB!

jpodraza says:

Welcome to the Community!!

andrea says:

maaaa.. credete che nell'83 non esistevano device touchscreen?
dalle fotocopiatrici ai monitor di alcuni macchinari?

andrea says:

do you think that in 83 touch screen devices were a real news???
there were screen with touch inputs on some photocopier or some professional instrument...

Derick Perlas says:

This may not be the best place to ask this, but I am looking for a pest control company inside the pittsburgh area and have no way to find out who is the best. I found this company that's truly close to me and wanted to see if anyone has any reviews on them. Spectrum Pest Control, 3058 West Liberty Avenue, Dormont, PA 15216 - (412) 446-2802