Video Shows Off Prototype Touchscreen iMac... From 1999

Touchscreen Mac rumors are not new, but it turns out that neither are touchscreen Macs. In 1999, a company called Elo produced and sold touchscreen versions of the iMac G3 through Apple's Value Added Reseller program for use as kiosk machines, and YouTuber Michael MJD recently managed to get hold of one.

The "ready-to-go tabletop kiosks" featured Elo's own iTouch touch-on-tube interface, which used surface acoustic waves instead of an overlay to detect where users touched the screen. You can see a prototype Elo ‌iMac‌ in action in Michael MJD's video, which also covers the history of the machine as well as its technical specifications. Given the simplicity of the hardware modification, it's a pretty impressive feat.

Rumors of Apple developing its own touchscreen ‌iMac‌ date back to 2010, initially fueled by Apple patents for a touchscreen desktop computer and then reports of touch panels making their way through Apple's supply chain.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs appeared to put the kibosh on those rumors in 2010 when he said that "touch surfaces don't want to be vertical" due to arm fatigue associated with holding up a finger to the screen.

In the years that followed, Apple firmly established iPhone and iPad at its touchscreen products, with no change in its position on touchscreen for Macs. As recently as 2021, Apple's hardware engineering chief John Ternus said the Mac was "totally optimized for indirect input" and said the company did not feel there was a good reason to change that.

Despite the years of resistance, however, Apple has reportedly started working on adding touchscreens to Macs. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, a new MacBook Pro with an OLED display could be the first touchscreen Mac in 2025.

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Top Rated Comments

FloridaScrubJay Avatar
8 months ago
I agree with Steve Jobs, no touch screen Macs.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Coreymac84 Avatar
8 months ago
I never touched my iPad Pro screen when it was docked to the Magic Keyboard. It simply does not feel right to reach out when there is another form of input that allows the arms to remain relaxed. Touch computers are a complete bust, I hope this feeling doesn’t transfer to Apple Vision.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darngooddesign Avatar
8 months ago

Touch screen laptops always felt silly to me. At my workplace all of the laptops have touch screens and I was discussing this a couple weeks ago and my boss remarked that he forgot his laptop had a touch screen lol. Nobody seems to ever use them that way
I have two work Thinkpads, my most used one has a touchscreen. I mostly use it for quick OS interactions like using the task bar, modal windows, some operations in Office, scrolling webpages, etc.; I use it enough that I reflexively try to do the same on my MacBook Pro.

People seem to think that having a touchscreen means you use it for everything, but you should use each controller for what it's best at. For example, if you re doing a lot of work a mouse is better than a trackpad.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
winxmac Avatar
8 months ago
This was uploaded nearly 2 months ago… Why just now MacRumors?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cnnyy20p Avatar
8 months ago
If iPad can have keyboard and mouse as the secondary input Mac can too have touch as secondary input.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
steve09090 Avatar
8 months ago
Whilst it would be 'nice' to have, I don’t want to pay money for something'll use once a year. Unless it has a lay flat screen and Apple Pencil support, it is a waste.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)