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Remembering the Apple Paladin and other prototypes

Way back in 2006 we had a story from AppleGazette about 5 Apple products which never made it to production. Today there's a photo of an old "touchscreen" phone Apple prototyped circulating (although I remember digging this up when the iPhone was announced; we never ran the story it seems) and I wound up doing a whopping five minutes of research on Flickr for more Apple prototypes. Like fishing for Steve Jobs videos on YouTube, these diversions can be a lot of fun. It's a bit like staring into an alternate universe, seeing glimpses of Apple's ambitions -- often ahead of their time, and re-appearing years later in substantially refined form.

The Paladin is one of those Frankenstein machines you'd never imagine would emerge out of Cupertino. While the "touchscreen phone" prototype was stylish, the Paladin looks like a Duo and a fax machine took a cue from the Wuzzles and had some freakish techno-mutt. Paladin had a pull-out keyboard with trackball. The combination of a fax machine, scanner, phone and computer probably made sense before the Newton, but molded as a typical fax machine in that old beige just seems so... uninspired. Then again, this was 1994 -- not exactly an era of innovation from Apple, unless you count endless models of Performas "progress" (the market sure didn't). The Paladin doesn't even have an Apple logo up top, instead showing Apple on the label only. Of course, the pics from Jim Abeles are showing a prototype, so there's no real reason to attach a logo at this point in the process.

Mr. Abeles has a few curious prototypes on his Flickr page, including an iPhone, a 13" MacBook in very rough form, the Newton-powered Bic and Cadillac prototypes (way before the iPad), the W.A.L.T. (Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone), and a Mac Portable with transparent case (translucent plastic, OMG!). Apparently he's collected more, but only these ultra-rare prototypes are on Flickr. What a collection!

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