Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is The Apple Set Top Box A Prototype Or Is It Even Rare?



One of my saved eBay searches is "Apple Prototype" - every now and then I'll get a search emailed to my inbox that looks something like this:



Up for auction is a vintage and rare Apple Interactive Television Box, truly a unique piece of Apple history. This was developed by Apple in the early to mid 90's with a few different telecom firms, but unfortunately the project was cancelled and the device was never mass marketed.

I got this to add to my collection years ago and I have kept it in EXCELLENT condition during that time. There are only a few small hairline scratches on the top, but other than that this is in mint condition. You can barely see them in the pictures! The last time I set this up a few years ago it worked fine, so it should still be fine now. Unfortunately I do not have an Apple ADB keyboard anymore, so I can't do any further testing to make sure that everything still functions. Please bid accordingly.

I am only getting rid of this unique piece because I need the storage space for other things, so hopefully someone can add this to their vintage Apple collection. I have not seen many of these in my years, and certainly not in this good of condition. See the pictures below for the exact item you are bidding on. This will be carefully packed and shipped via FedEx Ground. I have done the best I can to describe this item, but please note that due to the nature and age of this machine, I will not be accepting returns. Thanks for looking!


While I certainly think this is a good item to have in your Apple collection, it was neither RARE nor a prototype ... in fact it was put to use. Disneyland California used these in hotel rooms to provide interactive shopping and television control. I have read estimates that there may be more of these units out there than MacTVs.

I hate it when eBay sellers like this knowingly try to deceive other eBayers as this seller obviously knows what he's selling. And what's interesting to me is that he says he collects computers but doesn't have an ADB keyboard to test it ... hmmmmmmm.

The only RARE thing about these is to find a remote control - the remotes are awesome and control Sony Television sets. They are the only remotes I know of (aside from getting a wireless ADB keyboard) that have a number pad on them - allowing you to go to specific channels on a Mac TV or using one of Apple's TV tuner cards for the 5400-6500 series.

If you'd like to see a detailed discussion of the Apple set top box look at this page on Apple Fritter.

Unlike the people in the Apple Fritter forum, I was able to get one of these working back in 1999 - I basically pulled all the data from a SCSI hard drive that was built into the unit - it was mostly all interactive shopping and park navigation at Disneyland.

A few years back an eBay seller made a killing on these units (having 1000's of them for sale) and marketing them as Apple Prototypes.

This page on Wikipedia will also show you how much even "trusted sources" of information have a lot of misinformation about this item.

* I added some information that I know to the Wikipedia page.

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