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Here’s What The First iPhone Almost Looked Like

A video shows that an early version of the first iPhone almost resembled a touchscreen iPod, complete with scroll wheel.

Posted on January 11, 2017, at 5:32 p.m. ET

A YouTube video of two original iPhone prototypes shows that the past 10 years might have been very different: The first iPhone almost had a scroll wheel.

The video, posted by YouTube user Sonny Dickson, shows prototype iPhones known as versions P1 and P2 running two versions of Acorn OS, Apple's testing operating system. P2, with its direct touch interface, was the one that went to market 10 years ago, though in a more developed form than shown in the video. P1 more closely resembles the hallmark scroll wheel of the original iPod.

View this video on YouTube

P2 is on the right.

Tony Fadell, who worked as senior vice president of the iPod division at Apple from 2006 to 2008 and was part of the team that created the original iPod, tweeted about the video, saying that P2 was always the right choice.

Exactly! No doubt in anyone's mind which was the right path. Those on the iPod based UI knew is was doomed. SJ push…

According to Dickson, Fadell and his team created P1, and Scott Forstall created P2, which eventually won out, though Fadell's tweet implies that Steve Jobs was pushing for the scroll wheel.

Even as late as December 2006, right before Steve Jobs would reveal the first iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, rumors were swirling that the iPhone would sport a virtual version of the iPod's design. These prototype interfaces indicate that Apple considered the option but ultimately chose to develop the modular interface we recognize today.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

  1. What do you think? Would you have preferred a scroll wheel on your iPhone?

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What do you think? Would you have preferred a scroll wheel on your iPhone?
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    The wheel is the future!
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    Let's not roll back into the past

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.