Bic, Cadillac and Batmobile: three Newton prototypes

Bic, Cadillac and Batmobile: three Newton prototypes

Next week, Apple will either officially unveil their much-rumored tablet device, or the lot of us are going to look like complete idiots. Either way, it should be a fun week, but as anticipation boils to a pitch, we might as well keep ourselves entertained with a look back at the prehistory of Apple’s last tablet launch: three Newton prototypes evocatively codenamed the Bic, the Cadillac and the Batmobile.

The Bic (pictured above), posted by Flickr user Jimaebles, is the most understood of the prototypes: it had two PCMIA card slots, a retractable I/O door, infrared, a microphone, a speaker and a removable battery, all happily running along on an ARM 610 20MHz processor. It looks more like a traditional tablet than the Cadillac, posted by Flickr user Sonnyhung, which is designed more like a credit card digital signature pad:

Bic, Cadillac and Batmobile: three Newton prototypes

According to Jimabeles, he saw both prototypes at a mobile computing development group at Coke: “Apple was more or less searching for a reason to build the tablet and never did find a market. I have no idea how many exist. I only know of one other and it is in a computer museum in California.”

On the other hand, the Batmobile Newton, posted by Flickr user Splorp, is a prototype very similar to the Newton that actually shipped, with the only difference being the cover: a hard chunk of plastic that snapped on and off the device to protect the screen.

Bic, Cadillac and Batmobile: three Newton prototypes

Great stuff. I only hope that two decades from now, we have access to just as much archeological prehistory of the designs that eventually informed Apple’s final iSlate design.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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