back to article When Steve Jobs was away, Apple's designers snuck out a penis-shaped remote control

Forget what you "know" - that Apple concentrated on just Macintosh computers. Down the years - before iPods, iPhones and Pads, before watches - Apple tried to make all sorts of new technology markets. There was gaming with the Bandai Pippin in 1996 and personal digital assistants with 1993's Newton, for example. Apple's first …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure it was even an Apple device..

    ..I had one by maybe Philips or Kodak...

    1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Not sure it was even an Apple device..

      You're right - it was made by Philips but Apple re-designed its version

      1. Mage

        Re: Not sure it was even an Apple device..

        My Philips one and its remote looked identical. Still goes, it's never been used as a portable. Kodak killed photo-CD and portfolio CD (I had a demo one, superb mix of menus, slides and audio, played on the Philips machine and a PC app). The licence costs, lab costs to get your photo on CD, the cost of Portfolio authoring software. The later cheap Picture CDs with over compressed JPEG are rubbish.

        It did PAL.

        The round multi-pin connector was compatible with a camcorder crt viewfinder/eyepiece and powered it and showed video.

        I never thought the remote looked like a penis. It's pretty flat.

        Mine was in a sale reduced to 1/5th price. Made a great table top HiFi CD player.

        I'm sure that's just Apple rebadging, maybe they had NTSC version and the CD Data feature. I bet Philips did it for them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Looks like an unfortunate incident from an X-rated Chuck Jones animation

          "I never thought the remote looked like a penis. It's pretty flat."

          Yeah, I thought the alleged similarity was stretching things a bit. I guess if your penis had been involved in an unfortunate accident with a roadroller that rendered it large, but flat and misshapen it might do.

          Though I feel sorry for Mr Sharwood if that was the case...

          1. macjules

            Re: Looks like an unfortunate incident from an X-rated Chuck Jones animation

            Was it by any chance modelled on Mr Amelio's appendage after Jobs had had 10 minutes with him in the boardroom with 2 bricks (aka Mac LC475 'The last computer you will ever need to buy')? I think we should be told.

    2. Code For Broke Bronze badge

      Re: Not sure it was even an Apple device..

      Sorry, that downvote was me. Did your comment precede an edit by the author or did you not read the article?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Not sure it was even an Apple device..

        We will never know!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well we all know...

    Only knobs buy Apple devices.

    So a perfect design fit for their customers.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had one

    And, do you know, I never noticed the shape of the remote?

    The CD drive was a very good product for its time, and quite a lot of remotes have a curved back to make them easier to pick up.

  4. Stuart Halliday

    Yawn article

    Gee desperate to hype up your article weren't you? So you added infantile penis jokes.

    1. joeW

      Re: Yawn article

      More like he had to write an article to go around the penis joke.

      Well done that man!

  5. RikC

    Hey, I actually owned one of those as well! And yes I recall it's single speed slowness and long seeking times, and the strange moise it would make while seeking!

    Aaaaand... the remote was not exclusive to Apple: Philips DCC (digital casette) players had the same remote only with different buttons:

    I know because we (my family) owned one of those as well! So we had two of those remotes in our house!

    In fact, Philips also had a model very similar to the powercd player being able to play their cd-i multimedia discs on a tv... You couldn't connect that player to a pc since it missed the scsi port on the back. It was not sold very well even compared to other players of the not so succesful cd-i format... (which the Apple player could not play... altthough you could use it to directly watch photos on a compact disc on your TV via a composite connection!)

    EDIT: Apperently the Apple cpuld play CD-i, missed that then ;-) And reading the other comments, yes there was a Kodak version as well! :-)

  6. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    I'm game for bashing Apple. And there's still plenty of reason to do so (e.g. the voice of an iphone 6 user randomly fading in and out on the other end of the phone connection). But this "genital" remote control? I do see it, with a little help of this not very subtle article but it doesn't seem so obvious. Then again, I've never saw and let alone handled one of those in real life...

    [On a second thought, maybe your or my penis -I tend not to compare mine to that of other people- have an odd shape and the remote control indeed resembles one.]

    1. lorisarvendu

      Yup, I've still got one of these remotes. It came with the Philips CD Player I bought in 1992 with my BT Redundancy money. Still plugged into the amp and still works but rarely used now in this age of streaming mp3. Never noticed the similarity to a penis though, and quite frankly still can't. I can only assume that poor Simon Sharwood has very strange shaped genitalia.

      1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)
  7. Tessier-Ashpool

    Damn you, Register...

    ...with your April Fool headlines that turn out to be the truth. You're really messing with my head.

  8. DuncanL

    See a doctor...

    ...if yours is shaped like that!

    1. Tim Jenkins

      Re: See a doctor...

      or ask your wife; she may prefer one that needs batteries...

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Re: See a doctor...

        To be honest I doubt your wife or girlfriend would be very impressed with something that shaped even if it vibrated and played "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

        There are a dozen houshold objects which come to mind as either more phallic in shape or more suitable for the occasional, ahem, "indulgence".

  9. jokerdog

    Has nobody noticed the date today... ?

  10. Dan Wilkie

    Kodak Photo CD's... Christ I remember those!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One of the things that doomed Kodak..

      ... trying to invent over and over proprietary formats no one needed, especially since better alternatives were already available, trying to lock people into tits devices and services. Same line of Disc films, and APS ones. Kodak should have really hated those Leica & C. guys who used standard 35mm film for movies into cameras. It's funny you can still use cameras from the 1930s using 135 roll film, while proprietary formats introduced in the late 1990s are already discontinued.

      However PhotoCD was enough popular in the pro photographers world for a while, though, due to the good quality film scans for the era. Then Kodak was unable to come up with some proprietary digital format, so eventually fell.

      1. Mr Dogshit

        Re: One of the things that doomed Kodak..

        "trying to lock people into tits devices and services"


      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: One of the things that doomed Kodak..

        I'll give you Disc and APS (though the latter wasn't exclusively Kodak I believe?) but PhotoCD certainly filled a niche. Disc was an abomination but APS might have had a chance if it had been invented ten years earlier.

        As for PhotoCD, at a time when digital publishing was beginning to be within reach of the many rather than the few, digital cameras didn't really exist and film scanners were somewhat expensive, getting photos at a half decent quality in a digital format was tricky for those on a low-ish budget.

        At (IIRC) something like £5 for the disc and 40p per frame, PhotoCD returned your positives or negatives within a fortnight, professionally cleaned and scanned at a range of resolutions perfectly suited to desktop publishing (top end was 6Mpix?). Each disc held around 100 images (99?) and was "multisession" so you could add to it over time. Yes, CD drives in computers were still fairly expensive, but they had additional uses that made them a good investment and very quickly dropped in price. Overall for small run magazines, self-employed designers etc., PhotoCD worked well.

        An additional benefit was the ability to have over 600MB of digital images available "on the shelf" and not taking up space on your HDD (or Zip / SyQuest / whatever) at a time when gigabyte capacity HDDs were only just beginning to become affordable.

        I had two PhotoCDs myself and their images (ImageMagick will read them) still compare very favourably to those from my digital SLR (my 35mm camera was an Olympus OM1n). They compare even better with my self-scanned images, probably mainly due to the way the lab was able to prepare the originals before scanning.

        I have only two PhotoCDs because processing labs started offering to scan films as they were processed for only £1 or £2 extra. I used the Jessops service mainly, but the scans were only (again, IIRC) 3 or 4Mpix and JPEG compressed. Perfectly sufficient for my then and subsequent uses, but probably wouldn't have suited more professional users. I never tried the Kodak PhotoDisk system - a whole film of images on a single floppy disc.

        And that was the end of PhotoCD. It was good while it lasted, but it only lasted a few years, technology moved on and Kodak didn't keep up. I held out for a while, continuing to use film, but eventually bought my digital SLR in 2009.

        Back in 1996 / 1997 I created a website using those images from PhotoCD. The thing was hand-crafted on an Acorn RiscPC using Acorn's PhotoCD reading software, Creator, Translator or ChangeFSI to produce JPEGs and Edit or StrongEd for the HTML. It was hosted by Demon, and disappeared when I moved ISPs, but the Wayback Machine managed to grab a copy:

        Please don't laugh!


  11. paulf


    " was hard not to imagine what Apple's designers had on their minds."

    Yep, I see what you did there, fnar fnar.

  12. Unep Eurobats


    I think that's stretching it a little bit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Design follows function...

    ... after all what most lone men do in front of TV? It's true Apple skeuomorphic design!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Design follows function...

      I don't see what drinking cheap&nasty beer from aluminium cans has to do with this?

  14. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Simon, a dirty mind is like a never ending party.

  15. Rob Crawford

    Guess I don't spend as much time thinking about penises as other do

    Even after the alleged similarity was pointed out I still don't actually notice it

  16. E 2

    This story is really reaching

    Author must have sore elbow and shoulder from reaching so hard.

  17. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    This all reminds me of the Victorians and table leg skirts.

  18. John Browne 1

    The player itself reminds me of something....

    Yep, looks like one of those smart Japanese toilet seats that analyses your Precious Bodily Fluids while you're sitting on it.

    Of course it's way too small and the hinge is at the wrong end, but that sort of thing never bothered Apple in those days.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bit of a stretch..

    .. to look at that and then think Penis. It looks nothing like one!

  20. Code For Broke Bronze badge


    As Siegmund Freud is often quoted as saying, "Sometimes a 90s AppleCD remote it just a 90s AppleCD remote."

  21. cd

    Did it have a button combo that made it vibrate?

  22. Gannon (J.) Dick

    "When Steve Jobs was away, Apple's designers snuck out a penis-shaped remote control"

    I guess sneaking in a new penis was too much trouble.

  23. Christian Berger

    That's the standard design of Phillips remotes from that time

    Phillips just experimented a lot with designs in that time. They also had a "helmet" shaped TV

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