In the rush to buy the latest and greatest, we often forget our roots. What you see above is the original iPhone. That's right: before Apple got its act together, they launched that thing, a device designed and built by Motorola that featured an iPod-like interface for listening to music.
It was September 2005, and Apple didn't have a phone on the market. Six years ago there wasn't really anything out there we would call a "smartphone" -- just a bunch of clam shells and candy bar phones that had a number of features. Some more expensive models could run apps and games, but the vast majority of phones looked like the one above.
Watch Steve Jobs, above, as he launches the ROKR. You can see he's angry and fairly disappointed at the product, and little did we know that a mere two years later, he'd have something amazing up his sleeve: the iPhone, the phone that changed the telecom industry.
The ROKR essentially failed. Users wanted a much cleaner and simpler experience and it literally took years for manufacturers to figure that out. While the technology was very nearly there, Apple had to wait a few months for touchscreens, processors, and software to catch up with their exacting vision.
On a related note, Yoni Heisler at NetworkWorld found this amazing prototype iPad built some time between 2002 and 2004.
It looks a lot like a MacBook cut in half (which it probably was) and has a connector port and headphone jack, and was meant to be used just as you use an iPad today.
Although it doesn't look much like the iPad we now know and love, it's actually fairly close to it in spirit. It was about an inch thick and didn't have a "home" button at the bottom, but the rest was there: the large screen, the smooth case, and the big Apple logo on the back. So even as they launched their biggest phone misstep of the last decade, the ROKR, Apple was busy prototyping and building the future.
Did you know the iPhone and iPad were actually out in different forms almost a decade ago?
Top image via Motorola