Although Apple is known for their innovation and revolutionary products, not every invention was a success. Here are a few apple products that were predecessors for the iMacs and iPads of today, but didn’t quite pan out the way they were intended to.
The Apple III was introduced in 1980 as a successor to the wildly popular computer Apple II. Unfortunately, it was the first Apple computer not designed by Steve Wozniak, and the results showed. In order to run quietly, the Apple III was built without internal fans, causing the machine to overheat constantly. Consequently, the motherboard would heat too quickly, the logic board malfunctioned, and the chips would melt out of their sockets. This led to frequent crashes in an overall buggy machine which was already priced higher than competitor’s business computers. Every single machine sold needed to be serviced, and combined with few software options, the Apple III was doomed from the start. Luckily, Apple eventually built the original iMac and redeemed itself.
The Apple Lisa, named after Steve Job’s daughter, was built as a personal computer and sold from 1983 to 1985. Although it came with a plethora of quality features, including a mouse, user-friendly GUI display, protected memory, and multitasking support, the overall product failed commercially. Not only was it slow, but it cost $9,995 at launch which translates to $24,200 in today’s economy. Unable to sell the high-priced computer, Apple buried many extra Lisa units in a landfill for a tax break. Eventually, the personal computer was transformed into Apple’s original Mac.
The Apple Macintosh Portable, better known as the Mac Portable, was available from 1989 to 1991. Although advertised as “portable,” the laptop largely failed due to the lack of mobility it provided. At 4 inches thick and 16 pounds heavy, carrying the device around was extremely difficult. Poor design choices continued in the black and white LCD screen and heavy, lead acid batteries. Thanks to the complex battery design, the Mac Portable failed to turn on when plugged in. Acknowledging the faults of the Mac Portable, Apple discontinued the line after only two years and replaced it with the PowerBook Series. Eventually, the Mac Portable would evolve into the popular MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air lines.
The Apple Pippin marked the company’s venture into gaming consoles. Unfortunately, although it was technically sound, Pippin didn’t take off commercially. The device was intended as a competitor to PlayStation, Nintendo, and sega, but most game developers and users ignored Pippin. With few compatible games, a less-than-respectable processor, and high price tag, the Apple Pippin just didn’t appeal to enough gamers. Although the console allowed online playing, it was in many ways ahead of its time since few people had a quality connection. Today, however, Apple is a leader in mobile gaming, thanks to the iOS system.
The Macintosh TV, better known as the Mac TV signified Apple’s first exploration into bridging the gap between computers and TV sets. Essentially, the Mac TV was a Performa 520 attached to a TV screen. Unfortunately, there was no real integration between the two: while it could switch from TV functions to computer functions, it was unable to show TV in a desktop window. In the product’s defense, the device had a CD-ROM, but this was the era before DVD and Blu-ray discs. With a cost of over $2000 and limited capabilities, the Mac TV quietly exited the market after less than a year. Today, Apple has returned to the television world with the Apple TV digital media player.
The celebratory 20th-anniversary mac, also known as TAM, was introduced to the market in 1996 as a limited edition personal computer. As the first computer designed by Jony Ive, who later designed the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, etc., the TAM boasted a sleek, all-in-one design. Although it was visually very different from bulky CPUs, it’s internal specs were similar to the powerMac 6500, which cost $5000 less. Due to its exorbitant price, the TAM sold few overall units. However, it is a popular collector’s item and an important predecessor to today’s iMac.
Though it looked revolutionary, the Hockey Puck Mouse was far from functional. Released in 1998, Apple discontinued the USB mouse after only 2 years. Its small size made it hard for average hands to grasp and its round shape made it difficult to orient correctly. By now, a large number of graphic designers were utilizing Mac devices, and the poor pixel precision angered the majority of them. Apple followed the Hockey Puck Mouse with the Apple Pro Mouse which met minimalistic goals without sacrificing functionality.
A lot of Apple products didn’t quite meet consumer expectations, but their creation was absolutely necessary for the invention of the beloved Apple products we use today. Without these technical and commercial flops, we would never have enjoyed the iMac, iPad, Mac Mini, MacBook Air, iPod, or iPhone.