While the arrival of the iPhone in 2007 heralded a shift change in humanity’s relationship with technology, the company’s first stab at building a phone wouldn’t classify as a footnote in the annals of tech history.
The Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone (W.A.L.T) prototype was revealed at the Macworld event in Boston in 1993 as a telephone and face machine designed for the desktop. However, W.A.L.T – which was made in collaboration with phone company BellSouth – never made it to market after Apple cancelled the device more than a quarter of a century ago.
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While images of the iPhone’s pre-cursor have been spied in images, we’ve never seen a video of the device in action. Until today. Noted Apple enthusiast Sonny Dickson has posted a video of a prototype W.A.L.T (via MacRumors) in use, running a stripped down version of the Mac System 6 operating system.
The working device has a connected stylus, handwriting recognition, a touchscreen and includes an address book, caller ID and even access to online banking. Users can also set touchscreen ringtones for the device.
Being a little long in the tooth, the device takes a good while to start up and the stylus is almost torturously unpleasant to watch in use. Indeed, this look at the device makes us glad W.A.L.T never saw the light of day.
This is the first time we’ve seen a W.A.L.T model on video, let alone a working prototype. Pictures did emerge after one of the prototypes was sold on eBaby for a whopping $8,000 back in 2012.
Of course, the W.A.L.T device was presented in the same year Apple released the first of its Apple Newton PDA, which is the more recognised iPhone predecessor. Both were launched during lean years for the company, during Steve Jobs’ absence, and before the legendary iMac G3 and iPods helped to get Apple back on track.
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