Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from The Top 15 Vaporware Product of All Time, appearing at PCWorld.com. The full article counts down the big ideas that were supposed to revolutionize technology but never saw the light of day. Be sure to also see the honorable mentions that failed to crack the Top 15.
No. 1 Vaporware Product: Apple W.A.L.T. and VideoPad
Before there was an iPhone—in fact, before there was an “i” anything—Apple attempted two ventures into “portable” communications. Developed between 1991 and 1993 in conjunction with BellSouth, Apple’s W.A.L.T. (Wizzy Active Lifestyle Telephone, easily the worst name the company has ever come up with) was a tablet that doubled as a PDA; its killer app was the ability to send and receive faxes from the screen. The W.A.L.T. was never released to the general public.
Tenacious as ever, Apple offered up the possibility of a new portable videophone/PDA concept at 1995’s MacWorld Expo. The Newton-like VideoPad three-in-one prototype combined a cell phone, PDA, and videophone, and (get this) sported an integrated CD-ROM drive. While the idea of holding a phone with parts of a CD-ROM unit sticking out of the sides was a little questionable, it was more ambitious than the W.A.L.T. It too failed to pass the prototype stage, however, and Apple would stay away from telephones until 2007. Of course, we all know what happened then.