Blast from the past: 10 amazing Apple designs that never were

Founded on April 1, 1976 by the Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, Apple's incredibly-rich history spans nearly 4 decades now. And while most of us associate the Cupertino-based company with its newer generation of products -- the iPad, the iPhone, the Macbook and Mac Pro -- it's important to remember that these are hardly exhaustive of Apple's design history.

Most of you have seen the Apple II, and the Lisa, though. What you probably haven't seen, however, are the hundreds of prototype illustrations that never actually made it to the market for one reason or another. That's exactly the topic of acclaimed designer and founder of Frog Design, Hartmut Esslinger's book, Keep It Simple: The Early Design Years of Apple (available here).

A little over a decade after founding his now renowned design agency in 1969, Esslinger had already worked for big names like Louis Vuitton, but it wasn't until 1982 that his firm was approached by Apple. The then growing company wanted to make a break from its start-up status and transition into a global brand, so it agreed to pay Esslinger and co. $2 million a year to create a design strategy that would see to it. The outcome of that partnership was the "Snow White" design language, which went on to characterize Apple's products from 1984 to early 1990. During that time, as you can imagine, the collaboration produced quite a few concepts, most of which are still little known to the general public. 

You'll be wanting to check them out.



1. ArtSim98

Posts: 3535; Member since: Dec 21, 2012

Dat plastic. In the past everything was made out of that same plastic lol

7. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Yeah, it seems like there was one way to make plastic back then haha my old computer had that plastic... good memory!!

18. jtech

Posts: 101; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

It was an easier time, it was a simpler time. They were good times

2. FingerMyApple unregistered

The logo should have been bigger to gain my attention :)

3. chocowii

Posts: 478; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

More reasons to love my current laptop design. Hate those blocky and cornery designs.

4. enthasuium

Posts: 150; Member since: Nov 21, 2013

looks better than current apple design.

16. iMemo

Posts: 113; Member since: Feb 22, 2014

Like seriously... That is just dumb trolling.

21. Arte-8800

Posts: 4562; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

I agree That flip phone reminds me of Motorola Tac2 StarTac Apple designs were more streamlined before, know they look kinda ugly with curvy looking

5. dorian827

Posts: 161; Member since: Jul 28, 2012

That poo plastic almost made me vomit, yuck.


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

Based on those CLUNKY CHUNKY designs, i'M shocked that the iPhone ever got that iGreenlight. And, talk about design stealing, that clamshell phone looks just like that Motorola Timeport clamshell Sprint sent me for free back in 2000/2001 (didn't help - service was, is and always WILL be crappy). Anyway, congrats Apple on sticking to your slim and white look.

17. stealthd unregistered

So. . . you think Apple used a time machine to steal a design from 2000/2001 and take it back to the 80's, and then never release it?

8. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

Is #4 actually headphones? Looks more like power adapter plugs or printer cables to me.

9. engineer-1701d unregistered

hahaha i think it is power cable i remember something like that, and the so called tablet what they mean to say is word processor hahaha it must be a younger person doing this article,

22. g2a5b0e unregistered

You either didn't read the caption or your reading comprehension is abysmal.

10. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

#1 looks like a plastic Chinese clone of a Motorola RAZR.

11. Smokin

Posts: 120; Member since: Oct 10, 2013

#3 is that a watch? ._.

12. kzat82

Posts: 27; Member since: Dec 26, 2013

None of these were really "amazing" as the title suggested.

13. livyatan

Posts: 867; Member since: Jun 19, 2013


15. steedsofwar unregistered

That would be Fanboyean slip on behalf of the author.

14. steedsofwar unregistered

I think we are all glad these products never made it into production.

19. gregoryyy3 unregistered

Because apple releasing these products has such an impact on all of us? Lol

20. steedsofwar unregistered

Nope. Because they're pretty rubbish. Period. Nothing to do with whether it were apple or any other manufacturer. They were obviously not production material. Don't try to read too much into that buddy.

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