A new video of what appears to be a functioning 1993 Apple WALT phone has surfaced online, showing off Apple’s aborted attempt at its first phone. The video, which was posted by Apple leaker Sonny Dickson, shows off the prototype’s handwriting recognition, address book, and some pretty lengthy loading times.
WALT stood for Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone and was a desk phone announced by Apple back in 1993 that included elements of the Mac and Newton. It was a very ambitious device. Apple hoped that it would be able to make phone calls, send faxes, take handwritten notes, and even access online banking services.
WALT was never meant to be released to the public. Only a small number of prototypes were ever produced (including one that went on to be sold for $8,000 at an auction in 2012) and it was eventually canceled along with the PenLite, an early tablet based on Apple’s PowerBook Duo. The performance of the prototype shown in the video could give us an indication of why, with the repurposed PowerBook 100 parts struggling to keep up with the movements of the stylus.
Its first attempt at a phone may have failed, but almost a decade and a half later the original iPhone would go on to be the most important product Apple ever produced. It might not look like much today, but the WALT was one of Apple’s first steps in that direction.