10 and a half things you won’t believe Apple made

Apple’s weirdest hits, misses and the odd bit of knitting

Everybody knows Apple. It makes amazing, beautifully designed products that last forever, sell like hot cakes and delight their owners. Well, most of the time.

But Apple has its fair share of skeletons in its corporate cupboard, from ideas that were ahead of their time to ideas that really shouldn’t have seen the light of day.

Here are ten (and a half) things you won’t believe Apple made. 

1) This digital camera

Apple didn’t invent digital photography - that was Kodak engineer Steven Sasson back in 1975 - but it was one of the first companies to market digital cameras to consumers.

The 1994 QuickTake 100 was designed by Apple, made by Kodak and could take either eight photos at 640 x 480, 32 photos at 320 x 240, or a mixture of the two sizes. It wasn’t a bad device but it didn’t sell well, and Steve Jobs canned the QuickTake range in 1997. 

Image: Jaquian/Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0


2) This early iPad

Apple invented the iPad 22 years ago: the MessagePad, a personal digital assistant running Apple’s Newton operating system, was a big-screened tablet with handwriting recognition and a pen-based interface.

MessagePads were nice devices but the world wasn’t quite ready for mobile computing. Faster processors, touchscreens, Wi-Fi and mobile broadband would change all of that… eventually. 

Image: Rama/Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0-fr

3) These horrible iMacs

The beautiful, colourful iMac revolutionised computer design, but where do you go when you’ve used up all the colours of a candy store? The answer was obvious. Vomit!

The Flower Power iMac looked like the unfortunate aftermath of a child’s sweetie binge, while the Dalmatian iMac looked like a cat carrier. Critics were divided: some thought they were ugly, others thought they were really, really ugly, and still others thought they should be thrown down a deep well and never spoken of again. We're in the latter camp.

4) These socks

What do you get the iPod that has everything? Apple had the answer. Socks. But these were no ordinary socks. These were brightly coloured, iPod-shaped socks from Apple, which is why they cost £19 for a pack of six instead of the traditional three pairs for a pound.

As one Amazon reviewer put it: “it means you don’t get a nice piece of Apple design and then encase it in a bulky anorak case.” No. You get a nice piece of Apple design and put it in a sock. 

5) This boom box

With iPod sales soaring, Apple had a bright idea: why not make a speaker too?

The 2006 iPod Hi-Fi was the result, but it wasn’t a soaraway success. It was pricey, of course, but that wasn’t all: it didn’t connect to all iPods, the iPod connector was easily broken, it only charged Firewire iPods and you could sum up the reviews in one word: meh.

The iPod Hi-Fi was discontinued in 2007. Here's hoping the HomePod fares a little better.