The forgotten story of the original ‘iPhone’ released by InfoGear back in 1998 – and their ‘iPad’ prototype

Brian McCullough asks for Internet History Podcast, “Remember this?”

So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone— are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone. Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone. – Steve Jobs, January 9, 2007

“It turns out that almost exactly 9 years before Steve Jobs spoke those words and introduced the world to the iPhone, there was another 3-in-1 device that was introduced to the world, and it just so happened that that device was also known as an iPhone,” McCullough reports. “But the company that brought the ‘first’ iPhone to market, all the way back in 1998, was called InfoGear, not Apple.”

McCullough, “It seems that very early on in the development process, the new all-in one device acquired the name iPhone, complete with the lower-case ‘i’ and upper-case ‘P,’ just as with Apple’s later invention… [Also] ‘We’ve never talked about it,’ Bob Ackerman says, ‘But we actually did a wireless device that was called the iPad. We created a prototype. Never took it to the market, but it was a concept piece that we dubbed our ‘iPad.'”

Much, much more, including photos and Gil Amelio, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Check out that prototype “iPad’s” slide-out keyboard!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

12 Comments

  1. There was also a stylus-based tablet device way back in 1998 called Vadem Clio

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vadem_Clio

    It ran Windows CE, which was probably its “weakest link,” but the only choice at that time short of creating a custom OS from the ground up. Ironically, more than a decade and a half later, Microsoft is pushing a very similar “the tablet that can replace your laptop” notion with Surface (and “two-in-one” PCs for Windows 8 licenses). More like “compromised tablet trying to be compromise laptop.”

  2. Problem with that device is that it did nothing very compelling. Apple’s iPhone took advantage of music libraries, people’s increase need for internet access and a huge step up in phone quality. Add it a very cool touch screen and ease of use and you are set.

  3. I remember the InfoGear device, I remember that it was not portable, I remember the negotiations for the rights to the name, somehow I sorta also remember Cisco being involved too, but, I more remember Apples 1993 Apple Newton as being the direct progenitor to the current iPhone. It did everything the iPhone does, albeit sans a color screen, and with a little more heft, but it was still very portable, could access the internet, send/receive email, run apps, accept external storage cards, some with preloaded software, play games… maybe not so much music though.

  4. If you look at those devises and compare them to today’s Apple iPhone, you realize that we are now in Doc Brown’s “future!”
    Minus the flying cars, hover boards and pizza hydrators.

  5. A lot of devices acquired the ‘i’ prefix there in 1998 after the first iMac was released. Also there was an explosion of products bearing colored translucent plastic.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.