Some have claimed that the first Apple iPhone was invented back in 1983. Is this true or false? Today we’ll take a closer look at this claim.
MacPhone, Precursor to the iPhone?
A prototype computerized phone was designed by Apple in the early 1980’s, but it almost certainly wasn’t called an iPhone.
This concept phone was apparently designed by Hartmut Esslinger and it may have been called a “MacPhone.” It never made it to production, and was designed around 1983 or 1984. It may have also been created in conjunction with AT&T. Esslinger is known for his work on the Apple IIc, the company’s first portable computer from 1984.
The Apple iPhone
Apple didn’t start using the “i” prefix on products until 1998’s iMac was announced. The “i” at least in part stood for “internet” which was virtually unheard of back in 1983. Further, development of the first true iPhone did not begin until 2004, with the first product available in 2007.
Below is a collection of photos showing this concept phone. The phone depicted in the photos is a white land-line telephone with a touch screen that could be controlled with a stylus. One image depicts banking software used for writing checks and balancing a bankbook, which presumably would use a modem for transmission to a bank. In another image we see a handwritten email along with a contact list. There is also a photo which appears to show a virtual keyboard for typing emails.
There was an innovative concept phone created by Apple in the early 1980’s, but it was never produced on a mass scale. It was unrelated to the modern iPhone.
- Apple’s Original iPhone, 1983 (Mark Wilson, Gizmodo: July 18, 2007)
- Apple’s First iPhone Was Made in 1983 (Zachary Sniderman, Mashable: Decemeber 30, 2011)
- Hartmut Esslinger’s early Apple computer and tablet designs (Designboom: December 18, 2012)
Updated October 2, 2014
Originally published July 2013