Amazing Prototypes: Early visions of iconic gadgets
30th Apr 2012 | 16:10
Yes, you read that correctly. Although heavyweight rivals in the modern gaming world, Nintendo and Sony once formed an unlikely alliance. The Nintendo Playstation was the product of this relationship, a project that started in 1998 after Sony engineer Ken Kitaragi became intrigued by his daughter’s Nintendo Famicom console. The Nintendo Playstation project was designed to play CD-ROMS as well as the cartridge format, but licensing disagreements caused the relationship to fall apart – and the console to be lost in time.
It seems 1983 was a busy year for Apple. Not only was the company toying with the idea of a portable tablet computer, it was also looking into building its own touchscreen telephone. Created by designer Hartmut Esslinger, who designed the Apple IIc, it lacks the portability of a mobile phone, but shows that Apple were looking to take the initiative in touchscreen technology long before the iPhone was even a glimmer in Steve Jobs's imagination.
If you thought the original Xbox was big, try its prototype for size. Little is known about the model, which kept popping up in various locations and web images, but we assume Microsoft deemed the console too cumbersome and settled on a more practical final model. However some die-hard fans have gone to the effort to recreate the original prototype themselves.
While rotary phones were the standard model back in the 1940s, Bell Labs engineers were the first to design the push-button handset. Each button had a corresponding 3-inch reed, which was plucked when pressed - its own version of the modern day key tone. A yearlong trial saw 35 test units sent to phone company employees, but the project ended up as a flop. Push-button phones resurfaced in 1963, replacing the idea of reeds with solid electronics.
These prototypes for a new Blackberry handset, named Urraco, were a radical change of design for the smartphone company. The physical keyboard remained, but condensed down in the vein of the Blackberry Pearl handset. The internal design team at RIM designed the slimmed down model in the hope of broadening the brand’s appeal beyond the business-types. It’s a shame this one never saw the light of day.
The prototype successor to the Game Boy Color was first built on a 32-bit ARM RISC processor. Developed between 1995 and 1996, it’s expected this never-launched product was the mysterious “Atlantis” project rumoured at the time. Another interesting Nintendo prototype was for a touchscreen version of the Game Boy Advance SP. Company management dismissed the model due to its lack of backlighting and other visibility issues associated with the touchscreen, but this may have been the first sign of what became the Nintendo DS.
The Sony Tablet P clamshell design was a new design approach to a device which was fast becoming a group of iPad-lookalikes. Sony toyed with different screen sizes for the folding wallet style design - 5.6 and 7-inch versions – before settling on the 5.5 inch final design. Less curved, the prototype brings to mind the design of the Nintendo DS. Allegedly Sony also considered running Windows XP on the tablet before settling on Honeycomb.
Picture credit:Engadget China
The iPad is into its third iteration yet it seems the idea of a tablet computer was very much in Apple’s mind three decades ago. This tablet prototype from 1983 was created by Frog Designs for Steve Jobs himself. Complete with attachable keyboard, the tablet was named “Bashful” – a reference to the Snow White industrial-design language Apple used between 1984 and 1990.