Naturally, this wasn’t anything like the rectangular cell phone we know today. It was a land line phone with, instead of a touch screen, a built in stylus controlled interface.
It was designed by Apple computer developer Hartmut Esslinger, and foreshadows the touchscreen designs used by the iPad and iPhone today. He had also developed the Apple IIc, the first “portable” computer by Apple. It was never released to the public, but was kept in the Apple archives until the design was released in 1997 after Steve Jobs rejoined the company.
This iPhone isn’t the only prototype of Apple that never saw the light of day. Apple had toyed around with the iPad design for years before its launch. What’s interesting is that the 1983 iPhone device resembles an iPad with a phone, but iPads still lack this conventional phone call technology despite everything else they do. Perhaps the iPad appliance will enter that direction in its next iteration.