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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

The reason everyone is so interested in the leaked Apple iPhone goes beyond natural interest in the product. It's just that Apple usually does such a good job at keeping the their hardware under wraps. The lost iPhone(s) are easily the largest leak in the company's history.

Of course, Apple's labs are always brimming with activity, and many of these prototype designs eventually fall into the hands of collectors in the years to come. Here are a few interesting ones that were successfully designed behind closed doors.


From Flickr/steevil
A clear-case Prototype Apple Mouse apparently given to some Apple employees. It's labeled "Prototype" on the bottom and lights up when the it's plugged in.


From Flickr/Abeles
A metal industrial design prototype of the Apple Macintosh G4 Cube. The production cube was, well, closer to the dimensions of an actual cube. The final Cube design was actually leaked prior to its release, though there were a lot of doubts about its authenticity at the time.


From Flickr/mwichary
Apple's tablet efforts go back a long way. This PenLite design is from 1992 and represents a pen-based Mac built from a Powerbook design.

Article Link: Historic Apple Prototypes: Apple Mouse, Cube, Mac Tablet


macrumors 68030
Jul 22, 2003
Somewhere Else
Uh. Wasn't that mouse clear in final production form, too? Has everyone here forgotten that Apple Keyboards were translucent black for a period of time before Jobs got obsessed with white?

Edit: Okay so the circuit board wasn't exposed. But really, if you want a clear Apple mouse that's not white go get one.


macrumors 6502
Jul 21, 2009
That is a cool mouse! if they made it in multi-touch, I'd buy it pretty quick!


Sep 4, 2009
The tablet looked pretty cool.

Yes the "PenMac" was a great design and almost a decade ahead of its time. If it went into production, it would be a different world for sure. I wouldn't be surprised that lessons learned from the PenMac went into the iPad for those career Apple types.

The story I was told is that the PenMac was killed to make way for the Newton as Apple's first stylus-based device. It has been said that Scully wanted his "baby" the Newton to not get overshadowed by the PenMac. Many quit Apple after the PenMac was killed to move to other 90's era pen computer start-ups like Go Corporation, Slate Computing, PenWare and even Momenta.

Some kept with mobile, moved to early Palm and even the first Windows Mobile incarnations. Would not be suprised that there is some PenMac Easter Egg buried deep inside the iPad yet to be found.

There were even PenMac t-shirts and polo shirts here and there. Wearing them at Apple after it was killed as a sign of defiance to say the least.


macrumors 6502
Jun 22, 2006
That Powerbook design just makes me wish Apple would create a retro design line for its laptops stuffed with recent tech..


macrumors member
Feb 11, 2009
I remember seeing an original iMac prototype in an abandonded office area when I worked at Apple. It was made out of clear plastic instead of bondi color. I really wish I was able to keep it as it looked so cool.


macrumors 6502a
May 29, 2008
on this subject...
didn't somebody put a Mac Mini in a classic original Mac case complete with tiny TFT screen?
I remember seeing a mod site somewhere a while back...
Will the iPad fit into my car?


macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
Central U.S.
One of the mac labs at my school keeps running out of mice (hmmm wonder why) and they keep replacing them with their stockpile of the old, clear, black Apple ones. As a graphic designer, I can't stand not being able to right click. Sure, I can use the keyboard combo, but that is lame and not what I'm accustomed to. At least if we had these mice they would look cool. Now I have to show up to class early and switch out the mice. For whatever reason the Mac Pros don't even have bluetooth, so I can't hookup my Magic Mouse.

Speaking of which, I won a design contest the other day and was rewarded with a gift card to my school's bookstore. So one of the things I picked up was the Magic Mouse. This thing is amazing with MagicPrefs. Amazing to see how far they've come with freaking mouse tech, much less everything else. I never would have bought this thing otherwise, but if I had known how truly useful it was I would have.


macrumors newbie
Aug 28, 2008
If you look at the battery on the tablet, it's definitely based on a PowerBook Duo. Proud owner of an Apple Interactive Television Box here, too (still angling to be the first one to get it booted and working).


macrumors 6502
Jul 24, 2007
The Cube

The Cube prototype looks like a cross between a Cisco Router power supply (the big routers, the ones that start around the size of a college fridge) and something *secret* from the US Military. Talk about function over form! Though I have swung over the last couple years to that frame of mind. Ya pretty is pretty, but function really beats all in the end.


macrumors 6502
Jan 15, 2009
Vancouver, BC
sometimes i miss my old iMac G3 Graphite Special Edition running OS 9... simpler times... *sigh*

Ahhh yes... memories of my first Mac, the graphite PowerMac G4 (digital audio) just flooded back into my mind. Actually, my brother uses it as his main computer- 9 years old and still truckin'.
I love Apple's current line-up, but I miss those sweet days when Apple's product designs were so "OMG awesome I NEED that!!!". Now they rarely change the housing (see Mac Pro) and its all so much more... respectable looking. I would love to have a clamshell iBook G3 with all contemporary specs. I might actually pick one up off Craigslist now that I think about it. Although, an 800x600 screen would be weird to use.
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