Avid product leaker Sonny Dickson has published looks at the Apple "Acorn OS" operating system, thought to be at the core of early Apple iPhone prototypes.
Dickson has shed light on what appears to be one of the first options Apple had to choose from in "Acorn", with clear design lineage from the iPod's scroll wheel navigation. Instead of a physical wheel, the "Acorn" operating system featured an aqua-styled touch control wheel on the touch screen, navigating hierarchical menus with typography and layouts identical to the iPod at the time.
The early prototype video published Friday does not show features that ultimately made the iPhone what it was, such as a browser. Nor does it show the hardware that the OS is running on in any great detail.
Dickson notes that the prototype hardware that the "Acorn" video was shot on features many of the same features as the shipping iPhone did, such as aluminum body, multi-touch screen, 2G connectivity, and wi-fi. As early as December 2006, rumors were circulating that the new iPhone may include a "Virtual click-wheel/soft-touch design" as well as a metal casing.
Other accounts published well after the fact confirmed the click-wheel design was being considered for the iPhone, prior to the iOS implementation. A patent application from 2012 shows an interface remarkably similar to that in Friday's video.
The hardware used for the video could be the sole survivor of the "Acorn OS" evaluation process, as an entire division at Apple exists to eradicate unused prototype hardware.