4 Surprising Early Versions of World Famous Tech

The design geniuses at Apple, Google and countless other tech giants make it easy to come up with globally successful tech products that change our lives forever.

But there’s nothing easy about it. Every gadget you use, from your computer to your smartphone, is the result of years of intense work and will often be the last version of numerous tried-and-failed ideas.

Here are 4 early versions of tech we consider essential today.

The iPhone


Image credit: Robert Scoble on Flickr

Despite being the world’s best selling smartphone for a good few years now, the iPhone had a very troubled development.

A Fast Company feature revealed that the earliest version of the iPhone wasn’t actually an iPhone at all, but an iPod Mini with phone features. Instead of a touch screen, it had a scroll wheel which you used to dial and text, while the screen was a lot smaller than you’d expect now.

Basically, Apple had invented a fancy version of a 1950s rotary dial phone. Needless to say, the idea didn’t stick and it was back to the drawing board for Steve Jobs & Co.

Eventually, they hit on the winning iPhone formula, but the problems didn’t stop there. Apple was so terrified of their new product leaking to the public that their own engineers weren’t allowed to see the phone or the final hardware. Instead, they had to work with concepts and primitive versions of iOS.

Given the circumstances, it’s something of a miracle that the iPhone turned out so well.

The Playstation


Although it came out in 1994, Sony started designing the Playstation in 1986 – for Nintendo.

The jewel in Sony’s crown was originally designed to be a ‘SNES CD’, allowing Nintendo gamers to play their favourite games on discs instead of cartridges. The two companies even signed a contract for the production of the console.

Multiple legal issues eventually brought the partnership between Sony and Nintendo to an end, although the Playstation still featured a SNES cartridge port as late as 1993 (a year before it was launched).

Sony removed the port and ended all association with Nintendo at the last minute and went on to conquer the console world, as they still do to this day.

Nintendo, meanwhile, launched the N64, the Gamecube and the Wii, but have never managed to overcome the might of the Playstation.

The Xbox


The Xbox started life as a stripped back version of a Windows PC designed specifically for gaming. The brainchild of Microsoft’s future Head of Xbox Ed Fries, it used DirectX graphics and so was christened the DirectXBox.

So far, so good. It even had a tasty looking prototype, a ridiculously cool silver X-shaped box.

Unfortunately, things got difficult after that. Bill Gates loved the idea, but imposed a strict deadline for the development of the console. He wasn’t too pleased when the team decided to drop the use of Windows in the console for technical reasons either.

The name also proved to be a spanner in the works, with Microsoft’s marketing department – AKA the guys who would be promoting the console – firmly against calling the console ‘Xbox’.  They came up with an infinite amount of alternatives, but the original name proved the most popular in public testing.

There was also the small issue of actually finding games for the system. This was Microsoft’s first foray into consoles, so poaching studios from the likes of Sony and Nintendo wasn’t easy.

Fortunately, Fries managed to acquire a small studio called Bungie, who produced a little game called Halo just in time for the Xbox’s launch. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Samsung Galaxy

Samsung Galaxy

Although they’re best known for the Galaxy range, Samsung have released an incredible amount of different smartphones over the years.

Two of them could be considered early versions of the Galaxy. The SPH-1300 was one of the 1st smartphones released and paved the way for the Galaxy’s touchscreen. However, it was released to a public more accustomed to playing Snake and pressing the buttons 3 times for certain letters and, as such, didn’t make much of an impact.

The Instinct is a more obvious predecessor to the Galaxy, sharing its camera, powerful performance and sleek design. There was just one thing missing: an Android OS. Once that was added, the Galaxy was born and Samsung’s domination of the smartphone market began.

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