11 Forgotten Apple Products

Since Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the computer company has released hit after hit with the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad. However, over their 40-year history, Apple has released a few forgotten products. Here are 11 of them.


Believe it or not, Apple wasn’t the only company to make the iconic iPod. In 2004, Apple partnered with Hewlett-Packard (HP) on the HP iPod (or Apple iPod + HP). At the time, Apple didn’t have the same retail reach as it does today and HP didn’t have a portable music player. The companies joined forces to help each other in the growing music market. Apple could sell the iPod (and iTunes) through more retailers, while HP could have “their own” mp3 player. The partnership only lasted for a year, as Apple refused to service and repair the HP iPod.


In 1982, German designer Hartmut Esslinger was commissioned to come up with a production line for Apple Computer. He conceived the Apple MacPhone prototype, a landline telephone and tablet combination with a connected stylus and Mac operating system. Although the product was never released, the Apple MacPhone was the precursor to the iconic iPhone.


Introduced in 2004, Apple sold iPod Socks in various colors. A six-pack retailed for $29 and were made to stylishly protect an iPod from scrapes and scratches from daily use. Apple later discontinued the iPod Socks in 2012.


In 1993, Apple released the Apple Adjustable Keyboard that featured the ability to split in half for better ergonomic typing. It came with a separate numeric keypad with function and navigation keys to the right of the numbers. The keyboard retailed for $219, which is about $369 today. Now that’s a lot of money to spend on a keyboard.


In 2006, Apple designed a speaker system made specifically for the iPod called the iPod Hi-Fi. With the hefty price tag of $349, the iPod Hi-Fi was met with criticism due to the lack of battery charging, AM/FM radio tuner, and compatibility with newer iPods and the iPod Shuffle.

It was discontinued a year later and according to an official statement from the computer company, “Apple has decided to focus priorities on the iPod and iPhone and will not be making more iPod Hi-Fi units. There are over 4,000 accessories in the iPod ecosystem and hundreds of speakers systems designed specifically for the iPod, which provide customers with a wide variety of options.”


The Apple Time Band concept was featured in a Japanese magazine called Axis in 1991. It resembled an Apple Newton personal digital assistant that could be worn on your wrist like a watch. Almost 25 years later, Apple released the Apple Watch.


With the emergence of America Online (AOL) during the early '90s, Apple wanted to get Mac users connected to the Internet with eWorld, an online web portal and “Town Hall” that featured email, news, and community bulletin boards. It launched in 1994 with a price tag of $8.95 a month with just two free hours of online time. It cost an additional $7.95 an hour for day time hours or $4.95 for nights and weekends after that. It's no surprise that eWorld ended just two years later. Apple just couldn’t compete with AOL because it was only open for Mac users and didn’t include a web browser.


In 1997, Apple made a “budget” touchscreen personal digital assistant for the education market called the Apple eMate 300. It ran the Apple Newton OS and was designed for word processing, note taking, and sketching. The Apple eMate 300 also retailed for $799 and was discontinued a year later (along with the entire Apple product line) when Steve Jobs returned to the computer company and released the original iMac.

Photo: Rod Herrea


In early 2001, the “Flower Power” iMac was released after Apple ran out of colors towards the end of the original device's run. It was a throwback edition to Steve Jobs’s hippie roots in the late '60s and early '70s. The Flower Power iMac was considered tacky at the time and was discontinued five months later during the summer. In addition, Apple also released and discontinued a “Blue Dalmatian” iMac, which was blue with white spots.


During the early '80s, Apple created a tablet prototype called “The Bashful” in reference to one of the Seven Dwarfs from Disney and the computer company’s “Snow White Industrial-Design Language” they used throughout the decade. There were a number of variations of the Apple tablet that included an attached keyboard, a floppy-disk drive, a stylus, and a handle for mobility. It even featured a version that included an attached phone. More than 25 years later, Apple finally released a tablet with the iPad.


Back in 1986, Apple didn’t just make computers and electronic accessories, it also had a fashion and lifestyle product line with The Apple Collection. A year after Steve Jobs left Apple, the company released Apple-branded clothing and accessories, which featured sweatshirts, belts, wristwatches, stadium cushions, sneakers, jean jackets, Swiss Army knives, and playing cards. The Apple Collection even featured a sailboard with a big ol’ Apple logo on its sail for $1100.

Apple Wants to Patent a Keyboard You’re Allowed to Spill Coffee On

In the future, eating and drinking near your computer keyboard might not be such a dangerous game. On March 8, Apple filed a patent application for a keyboard designed to prevent liquids, crumbs, dust, and other “contaminants” from getting inside, Dezeen reports.

Apple has previously filed several patents—including one announced on March 15—surrounding the idea of a keyless keyboard that would work more like a trackpad or a touchscreen, using force-sensitive technology instead of mechanical keys. The new anti-crumb keyboard patent that Apple filed, however, doesn't get into the specifics of how the anti-contamination keyboard would work. It isn’t a patent for a specific product the company is going to debut anytime soon, necessarily, but a patent for a future product the company hopes to develop. So it’s hard to say how this extra-clean keyboard might work—possibly because Apple hasn’t fully figured that out yet. It’s just trying to lay down the legal groundwork for it.

Here’s how the patent describes the techniques the company might use in an anti-contaminant keyboard:

"These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress, structures such as brushes, wipers, or flaps that block gaps around key caps; funnels, skirts, bands, or other guard structures coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct containments away from areas under the key caps; bellows that blast contaminants with forced gas out from around the key caps, into cavities in a substrate of the keyboard, and so on; and/or various active or passive mechanisms that drive containments away from the keyboard and/or prevent and/or alleviate containment ingress into and/or through the keyboard."

Thanks to a change in copyright law in 2011, the U.S. now gives ownership of an idea to the person who first files for a patent, not the person with the first working prototype. Apple is especially dogged about applying for patents, filing plenty of patents each year that never amount to much.

Still, they do reveal what the company is focusing on, like foldable phones (the subject of multiple patents in recent years) and even pizza boxes for its corporate cafeteria. Filing a lot of patents allows companies like Apple to claim the rights to intellectual property for technology the company is working on, even when there's no specific invention yet.

As The New York Times explained in 2012, “patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology,” rather than a specific approach. (This allows brands to sue competitors if they come out with something similar, as Apple has done with Samsung, HTC, and other companies over designs the company views as ripping off iPhone technology.)

That means it could be a while before we see a coffee-proof keyboard from Apple, if the company comes out with one at all. But we can dream.

[h/t Dezeen]

Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
A Rare Apple Lisa 1 Computer Is Up for Auction on eBay
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For superfans of vintage Apple products, a working Apple Lisa 1 is the holy grail of collector's items. First released in 1983, the pioneering computer (the first to feature a graphic interface and a mouse) was a commercial failure and only sold 100,000 units, very few of which survived to the present day. But an eBay seller is offering up the super-rare opportunity to own one, as DesignTAXI reports.

The computer in question, selling for more than $55,000 as of January 8, is in mint condition. According to the listing, it has only been turned on a few times.

A Lisa 1 computer
professorinschubert, eBay

As you can see in the video below, everything seems to be in working order.

The seller estimates that there are only 20 to 100 Lisa 1s left in the world. And even for a Lisa 1, this one is a rare machine. Lisa computers, reportedly named after Steve Jobs’s daughter (though there have been some other theories about the name), were the only machines Apple released with its doomed Twiggy disk drives—a faulty format that turned out to be incredibly unreliable, leading to the product’s downfall. Apple then released the Lisa 2 with standard 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, offering customers free upgrades for their Lisa 1 Twiggy drives.

Since most customers jumped at the chance to make their $10,000 computer ($24,700 in today's dollars) run properly, Lisas that still have their original Twiggy drives are incredibly hard to find. The Lisa 1 on sale still has its twin Twiggy drives though, and they work, at least as well as the drives ever worked.

Whether the seller will actually get his $55,000 is questionable. In 2010, a similar Lisa 1 sold for just $15,000. But the model seems to have gained a lot of value since then, since one sold for $50,000 in November 2017.

[h/t DesignTAXI]


More from mental floss studios