The Apple Vision Pro may be ushering in the era of spatial computing, but like many other Apple products, it’s using a name steeped in history.
Ok, steeped may be a little strong, but Apple has had other products with “vision” in their names over the years. Seven products, to be exact, and all of them are long-forgotten CRT displays:
- AudioVision 14 Display
- AppleVision 1710 & AppleVision 1710AV
- AppleVision/ColorSync 750 & AppleVision/ColorSync 750AV
- AppleVision/ColorSync 850 & AppleVision/ColorSync 850AV
The AudioVision 14 Display came out in 1993, and was built around a Sony Trinitron CRT, as were all the other products in that list. The AudioVision 14 Display was Apple’s first “multimedia display,” and was equipped with a microphone, stereo speakers and two ADB ports for plugging in accessories.
Apple published a Q&A on the product that is still on its website today. This part jumped out at me:
Q: How does AudioVision differ from just adding separate high quality speakers and a high quality microphone?
A: While AudioVision’s sound performance is equivalent to many highly priced speaker and microphone alternatives, the all-in-one integrated hardware and software solution offers several advantages you just can’t get by adding on separate components. This integration advantage translates into simplicity of purchase and set-up, convenience in usage, and software Flexibility.
If that doesn’t explain Apple’s love of all-in-one products, I don’t know what does. Heck, that answer could be used to describe my Studio Display.
I even found an ad for the display, which normally sold for $790.
This product used the the HDI-45 connector for getting information to/from the user’s Mac with just one cable. As the name suggests, this was a 45-pin connector, and it carried analog RGB video, analog stereo audio signals (both in and out), ADB and S-video. This connector was found on the back of the the Power Macintosh 6100, 7100 and 8100 and was only ever used with the AudioVision 14 Display.
Before we get to those, we should talk about the naming of these products. There were three generations of “AppleVision” displays, and models with “AV” in their name included a built-in microphone and a set of speakers and generally cost $200 or so more.
The 1710 line shipped with a color 17 inch (16.1″ viewable area) Trinitron CRT and started at $999. The AV model ran $1,159 a big step up from the old AudioVision 14, but in those days, you paid dearly for every inch of CRT on your desk. These two displays were sold from August 1995 to August 1997, alongside the Power Macintosh 7200/75, Power Macintosh 7200/90, Power Macintosh 7500/100 and Power Macintosh 8500/120.
In 1997, Apple released ColorSync, its color management solution for Mac OS. ColorSync is a story for a different time, but to fully support it, Apple replaced the 1710 and 1710AV with two new displays: the AppleVision/ColorSync 750 and the AppleVision/ColorSync 750AV.
These two monitors shipped in August of 1997, retaining the 16-inch (viewable) CRT and required Mac OS version 7.1 or later.
The real highlight of the line was the AppleVision/ColorSync 850 and 850AV, which boasted a 20-inch (19-inch viewable) Trinitron. These shipped in May 1997, for $1,849 and $1,999, respectively. Here’s a bit from the press release:
Apple Computer, Inc. today introduced the new high-performance, AppleVision 850 AV and AppleVision 850 color displays for publishers, multimedia authors, photographers, and other professionals who rely on consistent visual performance and color accuracy, as well as for users of spreadsheet and page-layout applications who require a large display that supports very high resolution. Both displays incorporate Apple’s proven DigitalColor technology for state-of-the-art color accuracy, which is achieved through a patented internal calibration system that adjusts color over time with minimal user interaction. The displays support Apple’s ColorSync technology for color matching across multiple devices such as color printers and scanners by allowing display profiles to be created on the fly. Both displays also feature extensive, easy-to-use software control of screen geometry, mode switching, and color settings.
“The AppleVision 850 AV and AppleVision 850 displays truly complement our professional Power Macintosh computer systems,” said Phil Schiller, Apple vice president of product marketing for desktops, servers and displays. “When you combine one of these new displays with a Power Mac 9600 or 8600 for professional publishing or media authoring, you are getting some of the very best in graphics performance, image quality, color accuracy and industrial design.”
The product’s manual shows off the media controls that appeared on the chin below the display itself, as well as the rest of the display’s features:
You may be wondering what’s up with the rather long “AppleVision/ColorSync” name. This was a bit of a bandage to cover up the fact that Apple changed the name of these products on March 11, 1998:
Apple Computer, Inc. today announced a TCO upgrade to the currently shipping monitors for design and publishing professionals. Available in 17- or 20-inch configurations, the Apple ColorSync Displays now meet the strict international TCO 95 standards for recyclability,1 low emissions and power consumption. Additionally, the announcement completes the renaming of the displays from AppleVision 750 (17-inch) and AppleVision 850 (20-inch) to Apple ColorSync Display. The new naming more effectively communicates the advantages of the systems’ color calibration capabilities to customers.
I wasn’t really paying attention to Apple back then, but the name change makes sense to me. In the 1990s, desktop publishing was Apple’s bread and butter, and ColorSync was a big part of that, even if it did mark the end of the company’s “vision” branding, at least for a while.