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Here’s how the iPhone would look if Apple had designed it in the 1980s

The speculative phones are a reminder that Apple used to be a far more expressive company in its industrial design.

Here’s how the iPhone would look if Apple had designed it in the 1980s
[Image: @realfuturepunk]

When the iPhone arrived in 2007, it was generations beyond any consumer technology on the market. Compared to the bulky, plasticky Blackberry, this aluminum and glass touchscreen smartphone was sheer alien technology. It took about five years for competitors to release decent iPhone alternatives, and Apple would go on to become the world’s most valuable company in the iPhone’s wake.

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But what if Apple had somehow released the iPhone in the 1984, instead of, say, the original Macintosh? Or in the 1990s, instead of Jony Ive’s Bondi Blue iMac?

Thanks to the designer who goes by the name Future Punk, now we know. Future Punk, who is known for their portfolio of ’80s-inspired design, created a short commercial selling retro iPhones from each era. The ad, spotted by Boing Boing, is made out of what appears to be a combination of found footage and 3D rendering.

The Macintosh iPhone features Apple’s unmistakable Snow White design language, a tiny CRT screen, and a dial pad made from keyboard keys. The ’90s version features the semi-translucent, candy-colored shells of the old iMacs, with a set of matching keys that look something like an old Nokia.

Of course, this work is beyond speculative fiction. These iPhones simply never could have existed. Processing hardware wasn’t nearly sophisticated enough, or miniaturized enough, back then to make these designs possible. That said, by mapping old design languages onto the ubiquitous, spartan iPhone we all know, the video makes for an excellent reminder that Apple used to be a far more expressive company in its industrial design. And perhaps it will be one day again.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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