You’ve probably seen several photos and videos of prototype Apple products circulating the internet, and some of them are quite interesting because they reveal features that have been removed from end devices. The stories behind these prototypes are generally unknown, but 9to5Mac was able to learn more about a specific first-generation iPod touch prototype built even before the iPhone was introduced.
I spoke to Giulio Zompetti, who is well known on Twitter for his huge collection of prototype Apple products that includes dozens of iPhones, iPods, iPads, Apple Watches, and even a working AirPower unit. However, we’re here to talk about a rare prototype of the first-generation iPod touch, which was officially announced in 2007.
Zompetti says this iPod is one of the prototypes he never wants to sell because he sees it as a special device. First of all, it’s impressive how well preserved this iPod is. For a product that was built over 14 years ago, I am amazed to find that it has virtually no scratches. I own a first generation iPod touch (not a prototype), and its rear is nowhere near as bright as this internal model.
Seen from the outside, the iPod prototype looks like the model introduced in September 2007 by Steve Jobs. For those who don’t remember, the iPod touch came a few months after the iPhone’s launch as a cheaper alternative for those who wanted at least some of the experience of Apple’s smartphone, which included the multi-touch screen, Wi Fi, Safari web browser and iTunes Store.
A first prototype
The prototype belonging to Zompetti, however, has its own personality. It was built long before the first iPhone hit stores, and it runs software dating from April 2007. But before I get into the details of the internal components of the iPod, I had to ask him how he got that and other prototypes.
Zompetti explained to me that most of these prototypes are scrapped by Apple after testing is complete. Since these devices were only designed for internal testing and contain special software, the company tries to destroy the prototypes before sending them for electronic waste disposal. This iPod touch was found with faulty internal connectors and without the internal battery.
When Zompetti got the prototype, he installed a new battery and fixed those faulty connectors himself. According to him, prototypes discarded during work are usually restored by people who find them in the electronic dump. If you plug one of them into a Mac, it’s recognized as a normal device, and you can then install a stock version of iOS on it. The lack of battery is what keeps this iPod special all the time.
The iPod touch prototype comes from the pre-EVT phase, which is “technical validation testing” – one of the earliest stages of product development. At this point, the company checks to see if the hardware is performing as expected with software designed to test things like the touchscreen, speaker, antennas, and accelerometer. In other words, this is probably one of the first iPod touch units made by Apple.
Internally, this iPod touch has a red logic board, which Apple does to identify its prototypes.
It is running OS X
When it comes to “Switchboard,” which is that special software that Apple uses in prototypes, it’s not exactly a different operating system. In fact, this is just a basic version of the iPhone operating system without the icons and other stuff that you are familiar with. By using certain special commands on a Mac, it’s possible to take a closer look at the internal files stored in the iPod, and they reveal even more interesting things.
Surprisingly, the iPod touch prototype works under OS X! If we go back to January 2007, Steve Jobs said that “the iPhone runs on OS X”. Although these are different systems, iOS was built on the core of Mac OS X (now called macOS), and Apple had not set a specific name for the iPhone’s operating system at the time. ‘time.
After the launch of the iPhone, Apple changed the name of the operating system to “iPhone OS” which was also used for the iPod touch which came later that year. However, the prototype iPod operating system is still named “OS X”, as seen in internal files. Another interesting thing is that this prototype is the only one known to have a dual boot system with two parallel system installations, but the reason is unknown.
The iPod can be started on the Switchboard software, and it displays a “bloody gear” logo during startup, which is also a rare feature among Apple’s prototypes (usually there is only ordinary equipment. without details).
A few more bits and pieces
Since Apple always wants to avoid leaks or any association with leaked products, this iPod touch (along with other first-generation, extremely early devices) does not have an Apple logo. , the iPod brand or anything that refers to the company. It’s now easier to look at this and identify that this is an iPod with internal Apple software, but that wouldn’t be the case if any of those leaked back then.
Another interesting fact about this iPod touch prototype is that the device was thrown away with its “passport,” which is a document used to report tests whether the prototype passed or failed. You can see in the picture below that this iPod has failed a test called “plum calibration”.
One of the most interesting things Zompetti shared about his prototypes was that he was able to find out who the engineer at Apple was responsible for one of the units he obtained – thanks to some information printed on the labels supplied with the prototype. They even made contact and it was confirmed that the iPod unit had been rejected for failing one of the internal tests.
If you want to learn more about Apple prototypes, be sure to check out Giulio Zompetti’s Twitter Profile.
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