Prototype Apple TV predecessor from 1995 sells for $46 on eBay

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
A rare relic from Apple's past surfaced this week, when a prototype Apple Interactive Television Box from 1995 -- a primitive device tested more than 10 years before the release of the Apple TV -- was sold on eBay for $46.



Stickers on the internal components of the Apple Interactive Television Box, which was listed for sale on eBay, show that it was manufactured in 1995. It features chips from Motorola, Texas Instruments, and the now-defunct VLSI Technology. The back of the unit features a composite video and audio output, serial and S-Video ports, an Ethernet network input, and RF coaxial input and outputs.



"A friend who is a former Oracle employee gave this to me in the late '90s, and I just came across it again after going through some boxes that were in storage for 10 years," the seller, "macdeals," wrote. "Does it work? I don't know. Back in the day, I kept it on a shelf as a conversation piece. It is supposed to come with a remote, but I was never given one."



Development of the interactive TV set top box began in partnership with British Telecom in 1993, according to The Apple Museum. In 1994, the companies launched a trial of the product in Britain with about 2,500 households, followed by a six-state trial in 1995. The product was eventually canceled later that year.



The device included 4MB of RAM, 2MB of ROM, an MPEG-1 decoder, and a operating system that was a subset of Mac OS with QuickDraw and QuickTime. The hardware was also compatible with a remote control, mouse, and CD-ROM drive.



The Apple Interactive Television Box was part of a subscription data service that would allow users to connect to a server and download content to show on their TV.







Apple also in the early '90s released the unsuccessful Macintosh TV, an integrated computer and TV with a 14-inch CRT display. First introduced in October 1993, the product was discontinued just a few months later in February 1994. It carried an introductory price of $2,097.







The Apple Interactive Television Box was a primitive predecessor to the Apple TV, released in 2007. Since its release, Apple officials have maintained that the product is considered to be a "hobby," as the market for connected set top boxes is minuscule when compared to that of phones, PCs and MP3 players. In February, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said his company will continue to invest in the product, because they continue to believe it has potential in the future.



The market for the set top box has not grown significantly, with overall sales of the Apple TV increasing less than 10 percent in 2009 on a unit-by-unit basis. But some have predicted that Apple could turn its device it could turn to the HDTV market by including the Apple TV software in a large-screen display. One analyst has maintained that Apple will introduce a connected HDTV capable of downloading content from the iTunes store ecosystem, along with an expected iTunes TV subscription plan, in the next two to four years.



















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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    pondosinatrapondosinatra Posts: 464member
    Might be the one I sold a few years ago
  • Reply 2 of 37
    The killer app that the AppleTV needs is an app store.

    An HDTV with an AppleTV built in would not sell.

    People don't want to upgrade their HDTV every two years.

    However, if the AppleTV brains were modular and could be removed and upgraded separately then it might.

    Apple may just keep making bigger iMacs until they become the next generation of HDTVs.

    42" and 54" iMac?



    Apple could have the next big console platform.

    The other consoles focus almost exclusively on gaming.
  • Reply 3 of 37
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,872member
    holy poop! I've never heard of this thing EVER!!

    I wonder how it worked, where did the interactive footage come from? 1995 was the era of dial-up!!
  • Reply 4 of 37
    bigdaddypbigdaddyp Posts: 811member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    The killer app that the AppleTV needs is an app store.

    An HDTV with an AppleTV built in would not sell.

    People don't want to upgrade their HDTV every two years.

    However, if the AppleTV brains were modular and could be removed and upgraded separately then it might.

    Apple may just keep making bigger iMacs until they become the next generation of HDTVs.

    42" and 54" iMac?



    Apple could have the next big console platform.

    The other consoles focus almost exclusively on gaming.



    The problem is that even if it's modular Apple would still change the connector

    every two years making it obsolete.
  • Reply 5 of 37
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    Yeah but does it run flash?



    :P
  • Reply 6 of 37
    spotonspoton Posts: 645member
    Quote:

    The back of the unit features a composite video and audio output, serial and S-Video ports, an Ethernet network input, and RF coaxial input and outputs.



    No Firewire? No HDMI? No Toslink? No BlueRay?



    LAME



    No wonder it failed.
  • Reply 7 of 37
    ssquirrelssquirrel Posts: 1,196member
    Am I alone in thinking removing the insides from this and builting an HTPC inside the shell would be cool? Would be different at least.
  • Reply 8 of 37
    bartfatbartfat Posts: 432member
    It had SCSI?! Wow, that was ahead of its time. Not even servers used that commonly back then
  • Reply 9 of 37
    swingeswinge Posts: 108member
    I still love my Apple TV...



    I mostly use it just to move and navigate my music library onto my TV with surround sound...the best speakers in the house. The photo slide show is amazing as well...it's great for entertaining....



    The biggest advance came when they updated the remote app for the iPhone/iPod... You can access the phone's keyboard so searching and typing is a breeze....



    Does anyone know why Apple is keeping safari OFF the device? Seems like a no-brainer... with an iPhone, you could easily surf the web...Maybe Apple doesn't want to allow iPhone Apps to be transfered because of pixelization, but people are already used to that now with the X2 feature of the iPad... It would be soooo nice on the TV... All these things seem like they woudl be relatively easy to implement...
  • Reply 10 of 37
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,754member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    It had SCSI?! Wow, that was ahead of its time. Not even servers used that commonly back then



    Most (all?) Macs did at that time. Internal SCSI bus anyway, though I think generally external as well. Can't recall if the Powerbooks did. I know my old Peforma 6100 had an external scsi port in '94.
  • Reply 11 of 37
    29922992 Posts: 202member
    now this is indeed a first page title........ :/
  • Reply 12 of 37
    womble2k2womble2k2 Posts: 118member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    The killer app that the AppleTV needs is an app store.



    I agree, but what would really set things going is if Apple could come up with a way of interacting with Apps on an Apple TV in a unique way that is better than Wii and Natal. i.e. detect movement, speech recognition (that works!!), aensitivity to the environment (time, weather, etc) and more, then it would be a killer device.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    An HDTV with an AppleTV built in would not sell.



    Totally disagree with you on this one. If Apple were to get the interface right (i.e. better than current EPGs) and integrate with DTTV suppliers (would take a lot of effort due to the various international formats and numerous closed systems), then having the Apple brand on a TV would certainly help it move forward.



    It would also push Apple products into new outlets and audiences, making the halo effect even wider.



    If you look inside many flat panel TVs, you find a lot of dead space. Look inside an iPod, iPhone, iPad and you see every area of space used to house the various components.And I would suspect that they would have a better overall design than say Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, etc.



    It would only work however if priced competitively though so potentially a lower margin item for Apple, but on a $ basis, more profit than selling a small Apple TV box!



    Phil
  • Reply 13 of 37
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    It had SCSI?! Wow, that was ahead of its time. Not even servers used that commonly back then



    Ethernet but no phone jack. That's ballsy.
  • Reply 14 of 37
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member
    Sounds like another reason for Adobe to set the Feds on Apple again.



    Why? It's a Wednesday?
  • Reply 15 of 37
    sandausandau Posts: 1,230member
    But will it blend?
  • Reply 16 of 37
    acslater017acslater017 Posts: 424member
    Haha I might put that thing under my TV as an ironic conversation piece.
  • Reply 17 of 37
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    The killer app that the AppleTV needs is an app store.

    An HDTV with an AppleTV built in would not sell.

    People don't want to upgrade their HDTV every two years.

    However, if the AppleTV brains were modular and could be removed and upgraded separately then it might.

    Apple may just keep making bigger iMacs until they become the next generation of HDTVs.

    42" and 54" iMac?



    Apple could have the next big console platform.

    The other consoles focus almost exclusively on gaming.



    They have it - it is the Mac Mini.
  • Reply 18 of 37
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    It had SCSI?! Wow, that was ahead of its time. Not even servers used that commonly back then



    I assume this is a joke since SCSI was actually on its way out by then...
  • Reply 19 of 37
    hillstoneshillstones Posts: 1,490member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bartfat View Post


    It had SCSI?! Wow, that was ahead of its time. Not even servers used that commonly back then



    The Mac Plus in 1986 had SCSI, as well as every Mac up to 1998.
  • Reply 20 of 37
    damn_its_hotdamn_its_hot Posts: 1,186member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post


    I assume this is a joke since SCSI was actually on its way out by then...



    Edit: After re-reading it is obviously intended to be humorous -- I did not see the smiley initially. My bad.
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