The Apple WALT: The iPhone Before The iPhone

Apple’s iPhone wasn’t the first foray into the world of voice communications for the Cupertino firm, and the latest device to show up on eBay suggests that landline telephones were once an area that Apple was looking to revolutionize, even all the way back in 1993.

The iPhone is a runaway success. Not even the most diehard Google Android fan could argue against that. It’s been a phenomenon in so many ways and with the iPhone 4S sales consistently strong, nothing seems to be able to stand in its way. Not yet, at least.

The iPhone wasn’t the first time Apple had taken a stab at turning a telephone into something more than just a way to have two-way voice communication. Apple, even back in the nineties, was already beginning to explore new uses for an old technology. One example of that is the Apple WALT. Not heard of it? No, neither had we.

The WALT, apparently, was a landline telephone that Apple announced at the 1993 Macworld event in Boston. Unfortunately the device never found its way into stores, which possibly goes some way to explaining why we had never heard of it.

Apple WALT

WALT, or Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone, was a pen-based touch-screen telephone which offered fax capabilities alongside banking and contact management. Running a modified version of System 6 and using Hypercard, the device is possibly a forefather of the iPhones we carry around today, though obviously with more wires!

The reason the WALT is suddenly on everyone’s mind is the fact that one has shown up for auction on eBay. The device in question was far enough through the development cycle to come with a full, printed manual which suggests that it wasn’t an early prototype. While not currently working, the auctioneer claims that the reason for its lack of life is simply a few loose connections which could potentially be fixed.

Apple WALT (1)

With a Buy It Now price of $8,000, we won’t be tempted to have a cheeky bid ourselves, but if you’re a collector then this is certainly something that is worthy addition to any collection, if only because most people won’t have heard of it.

Now, if only we could find a few thousand dollars down the back of our sofas…

(via The Verge)

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