Apple's 1993 W.A.L.T. Combined Telephone and Fax Machine Prototype Seen in Action in New Video

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At Macworld Boston in 1993, Apple introduced a prototype device called the Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone, or the W.A.L.T., the company's first desktop telephone and, like the Newton, a precursor to the iPhone.

Little is known about the W.A.L.T., and while it's been seen in images, there's never been a video of it in action, until today. Sonny Dickson this morning shared a video that shows the W.A.L.T. being used, and it's a fascinating look at early Apple technology.


Unsurprisingly, the W.A.L.T. takes a while to start up given its age, but it's functional, running Mac System 6. The W.A.L.T. featured a touchscreen, fax functionality, on-display caller ID, a built-in address book, customizable ringtones, and online banking access.

As shown in the video, it had a series of hardware buttons for activating various functions, and it worked with a connected stylus that could be used for navigation and writing. There's a ton of lag when using the stylus, though, so writing doesn't look great.


The video walks through many of the available operating system options, from a user identification card to fax settings, which included options for customizing notifications, creating greetings, and more.

W.A.L.T., which was designed with telephone company BellSouth, was made from PowerBook 100 parts, and according to Dickson, prototypes came with an "unusual" manual that included basic instructions like "Do not use WALT near water" and "Do not drop WALT."


Apple shelved W.A.L.T. and ultimately did not release the device, but the remaining prototypes provide an interesting look back at Apple's development efforts more than 25 years ago.

Dickson also has a selection of photos showing the hardware inside of the W.A.L.T., which are well worth checking out if you're interested in classic Apple hardware.

Article Link: Apple's 1993 W.A.L.T. Combined Telephone and Fax Machine Prototype Seen in Action in New Video
 

yaxomoxay

macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2010
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Indeed, I love this experimental and precursor stuff from the 80s and 90s. Like the French Minitel or a similar Canadian system called Telidon.



Yea, don't remind me of lag on my old modem circa 1994-95.
Ah the sweet Minitel!!!
 

lunarworks

macrumors 68000
Jun 17, 2003
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That load time. Jeez.

Through the nostalgia goggles of our memories computers of that era loaded just as fast as they do now, but the reality was you could turn them on and have time to go make a sandwich.
 
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lunarworks

macrumors 68000
Jun 17, 2003
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Even the early Apple prototypes used skeuomorphism
Skeuomorphism was a valuable design practice when people were transitioning from using physical objects to virtual objects. It gave them familiar design cues to ease learning. Now that people have been using those digital interfaces for decades skeuomorphism is little but an aesthetic choice.
 

justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
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Home is everywhere and nowhere.
one and a half minute to load, wowzers
That load time. Jeez.

Through the nostalgia goggles of our memories computers of that era loaded just as fast as they do now, but the reality was you could turn them on and have time to go make a sandwich.
Geez that thing took a long time to boot. Must have a 5400rpm spinning disk inside or something.
What long, a mac in the early 2000 to halfway 2010 (might be even later) took that long to boot, especially when there were a lot of extensions/Applications loading.

We're in 2019, I know a settopbox which takes double that time to boot.
(Ziggo Mediabox XL)
 
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