Functional Apple W.A.L.T. prototype from 1993 shown off in new video

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 9
A functional version of the Apple W.A.L.T., a concept "telephone Mac" from 1993 that did not enter mass production, has surfaced in a video, with the distant ancestor to the iPhone shown to have features including online banking access, a touchscreen, and other advanced features.




Announced at MacWorld 1993 and with few prototypes produced, the Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone (W.A.L.T.) was a tablet-like device that offered a variety of telephony services. The rare hardware, produced in "classic Mac" and dark gray variants, has occasionally made an appearance when sold between collectors, but it is thought the hardware has not been seen as a fully-functioning device in public outside its initial unveiling.

Images and a video from Sonny Dickson shows W.A.L.T. as having a large greyscale touchscreen with a stylus for handwriting recognition and general input. Advanced for the time, the device was capable of offering access to banking services, fax and caller ID support, an address book, and customizable ringtones.





Designed in partnership with BellSouth, the device was produced from PowerBook 100 components, and ran a specialized version of Mac OS 6 customized specifically for W.A.L.T. that ran from a hard drive. External connections included SCSI, VGA, and external audio, among other options, while inside it is said to include one of the best "modern examples" of a customized daughter board that interfaced between the touch screen and the rest of the hardware.

W.A.L.T. units do occasionally appear for sale, and at a relatively high price. One instance was an eBay auction from 2012, which fetched $8,000. Manuals included with the units specifically identified it as a prototype device, as well as offering extremely basic instructions that many would deem to be common sense, including not to use it near water, not to drop the device, and to not step on connected cables.

While the features are relatively basic compared with what is available in the iPhone and other mobile devices, the video demonstrates that Apple has been considering the possibility of an iPhone-like device for quite some time before it actually launched.

The W.A.L.T. is the latest Apple prototype to have received a close examination. In March, photographs of the original development prototype boards for the 2007 iPhone surfaced, effectively showing an exploded version of the smartphone's internals as part of an engineering validation test (EVT) during its creation.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,287member
    A bit of Mac history I was not familiar with. Pretty cool. Terrible name. But why was it demoed at MacWorld? 
    randominternetpersonjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    bendansbybendansby Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    >But why was it demoed at MacWorld? 

    They expected it to launch alongside AirPower.
    gutengelchasmbageljoeySoli
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Looks kind of like modern payment terminals, where I get to combine my love of Apple Pay's simplicity with my passion for grabbing a germy public stylus to scrawl a signature that resembles Sanskrit.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,165member
    Love the acronym and map of Disney on the screen.  I remember accessing Disney's map and data via modem from the UK on an Apple ][e with a colour card and screen in 1979 or thereabouts.  I was very impressed, all full color and very informative.  Amazing to think that was so long before the world wide web.
    edited April 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,165member
    bendansby said:
    >But why was it demoed at MacWorld? 

    They expected it to launch alongside AirPower.
    Love the icon.  I used ResEdit for years.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,831member
    Looks like it's running HyperCard.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 572member
    cornchip said:
    A bit of Mac history I was not familiar with. Pretty cool. Terrible name. But why was it demoed at MacWorld? 
    Me neither, and I thought I had some familiarity with just about everything Apple ever made. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Wow, that cursor responsiveness was atrocious.  It looks like the cursor was being controlled by a mouse off screen and the stylus was pretending to control it.  How so very far we've come.   
    cornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,165member
    I'm relieved Apple backed off the whole mauve thing!
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,574member
    Apple must've stolen the OS from Android. Look at the latency and responsiveness. They're pretty similar.
    edited April 9 chiachasmpscooter63MacPronarwhalwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Wow, that cursor responsiveness was atrocious.   
    Walt's doing the best he can! He's got trouble on the home front.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,404member
    Bendansby wins AI Forum Post of the Year So Far (Classy Snark Category).
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    jpellinojpellino Posts: 611member
    Still have two MagicCap devices.  One of their best failures.  


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    MacPro said:
    Love the acronym and map of Disney on the screen.  I remember accessing Disney's map and data via modem from the UK on an Apple ][e with a colour card and screen in 1979 or thereabouts.  I was very impressed, all full color and very informative.  Amazing to think that was so long before the world wide web.
    The first time I remember using a touchscreen was at Epcot in 1984.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,080member
    Piece of technical nit-pickerey 

    It did not run MacOS 6.  There was no such thing.   It was "System 6".    Version 7 was, I believe, "OS 7".  The term MacOS did not come about until 8 or 9 iirc.  
    cornchiprandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    hexclockhexclock Posts: 559member
    chadbag said:
    Piece of technical nit-pickerey 

    It did not run MacOS 6.  There was no such thing.   It was "System 6".    Version 7 was, I believe, "OS 7".  The term MacOS did not come about until 8 or 9 iirc.  
    Spot on. It was System 7, and then MacOS 8 was a big update with a PowerPC native Finder which was Multithreaded. Good times. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,287member
    bendansby said:
    >But why was it demoed at MacWorld? 

    They expected it to launch alongside AirPower.
    Hahs
  • Reply 18 of 19
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,075member
    That looks like one really laggy device.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    Looks like the old Minitels we had in France around that time.

    3615 quinenveut!
    edited April 10 watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.