Rare portrait-mode Mac prototype up for auction

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From a rare Apple Lisa computer to the original rainbow-colored signs from the Cupertino offices there have been some great Apple items up for auction as of late. Now you can add “rare Mac prototype” to that list.

A prototype model made out of painted foam, this alternate Macintosh LC model was built in 1989 by Apple’s Industrial Design Group and Matrix Product Design (which later became IDEO). Unlike the actual Mac LC that shipped it has a vertically-oriented screen: possibly targeted toward the business world, rather than the artistic, publishing and educational markets that the Mac traditionally sold to at the time.

It shows that — years before the portrait-oriented iPhone became Apple’s most popular product — the company was quite serious about switching the look of computer monitors as we know it: a move that could have had massive implications had it been followed through on.

It wasn’t the only sneak peak the world got of vertical monitors either. A company called Radius produced a vertically-oriented display for Apple called the Radius Full Page Display, which was available for the Macintosh Plus as well as the Mac II.

Credit: ebay

Credit: ebay

The prototype Mac goes up for auction next week from Bonhams. It’s expected to fetch between $1,200-1,800.

  • Guy Daems

    Apple had their own portrait monochrome monitor. Bought it in the good ol days with an Apple IICI. It needed a special Nubus card to drive it. Last time i tried it was still working…

    • Andy Shorrock

      You could run them on IISI as well – had shed loads of Portrait Mono Monitors when I worked for a big publishing company. Designers had IICI with 19/20″ square monitors & editors had IISI with 15″ Portrait Mon.

  • WardC

    This is painted foam dummy mock-up prototype, not a working unit, or even a computer, it’s just a physical concept piece with no working parts. A foam mock-up.

    • tornacious

      True, yet some fool will certainly part with their cash for this dust bin stuffer.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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