What iPhone would have looked like back in 1984



Apple has become the most valuable company in the world thanks to the incredible success of the iPhone. Over half a billion iPhones have been sold since the original was released in 2007, but do you ever wonder what the smartphone would look like had Apple made it back in 1984?

Pierre Cerveau reimagined Apple’s flagship product in his neat “Macintosh Phone Concept” that takes inspiration from one of Apple’s other killer products — the Macintosh 512k.

Take a closer look:


The Macintosh phone comes with a hybrid rotary/click wheel that can be used to dial numbers or scroll through menu options on the tiny CRT display.




To quickly switch between dialing mode and scrolling, users just flick the switch switch up or down.




The rear shell of the phone mimics the back fan vents of the original Macintosh, only the number of ports are reduced to just one giant nine-pin port.


Source: Pierre Cerveau

  • Only problem is that CRT tubes are always roughly as deep as they are wide (requires a bump on back casing). I don’t think Sony’s ‘perpendicular cathode’ tube (Watchman) was around in the early 80’s.

    • Noel Blackman

      Was thinking the same thing… only one of those sideways tubes with the angled screen (like the Sony handheld TV’s would have worked).

    • Wirehedd

      The Sony Watchman was around in 1983. They improved it in 1985 but it would have still worked.. Just that it would have needed approx. 1.15 inches of total depth for the 1983 tube. Just under .75 inches for the improved.

      i worked part time at the local Radio Shack and at a higher end stereo store in those days. High school kid with 3 jobs. :)

      …only way I could afford the crap I was always playing with. (hence Radio Shack job for cheap components)

  • It would not have been this small. Also, it would not have a rotary dial.

    • Superbogey

      Yep. Just what I was thinking.

      Per the usual sources:
      Keypads on Touch Tone models were expanded to 12 keys,
      adding a pound and a star button to prepare for future functionality not
      yet available in 1968.

  • Pierre Cerveau

    The first watchman was actually introduced in 1982. In any case the concept is in no way meant to be entirely realistic, as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, there are numerous anachronistic elements aside from the screen.

    • Wirehedd

      We got them here in Canada the next year.

  • CG

    Cute, except it really should have be a standard DTMF keypad. Those came out in the mid-60’s! I mean, in people’s homes and offices.

  • JFairweather

    This is clever and well executed.
    But… I have to say that guys like this who were born around 1990 are a hoot. He might not be aware that push-button phones arrived in 1963 – 21 years before the Mac.
    This reminds me of a review I read of a WWII movie in which the most recent car seen in the film was from 1946, but the reviewer criticized the authenticity, saying that all those cars were 60’s vintage. I guess he had never heard of muscle cars going by the name of Mustang, Camaro, GTO, or Firebird.
    Other trivia:
    Fire became a common household item by the late thirties.
    They abolished the use of dinosaurs as school buses back in the fifties.
    Television was invented in the eighties. (The first viable station was MTV.)

    • Pierre Cerveau

      I was actually born in 1981. The first computer I ever used was a Mac Plus. I’m pretty much aware of how technology was back then. The rotary dialler was used on the concept because of the parallel with the iPod scroll wheel, which I thought would make the design more interesting.

      • Pelican

        Great job Mr. Cerveau! I dont think anyone mentioned the dtmf pushbuttons would have been because of the urban legend of the sale of blue boxes in the the early days. If it was like early modems in the Apple II it would be able to dial the extra operator tones for electronic switching.

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    They wouldn’t have made one because it would have been too big and ugly, this wouldn’t have worked in those days. Remember, cell phones back then were the Motorola DynaTac brick phones which is the size of cell phones back in 1984, and they didn’t use a rotary dial, they used a keypad. Seriously, get with the program.

  • PaddyORyan

    Retro-mod!I love it! But even if they were able to pull this off in 1984, you would not be able to run any useful apps on it, except maybe a basic calculator. A typical popular app today (like Trivia Crack) is well over 50MB, which is over 100 times larger than the mighty 512kb memory chip could handle.

  • Marcvs Antonivs

    I want one please.

  • Millard Fillmore

    This is a sidewise look at the history of Apple products by someone who knows what he’s doing. I liked it a lot. My first Mac was a 128k I bought in August 1984, so this was like a trip home to me. And, yeah, keypads well predate 1984, and the battery life for this thing would have been a fraction of a second … and I don’t care a bit.