back to article Apple seeks patent for 'innovation' resembling the ZX Spectrum, C64 and rPi 400

Apple has filed a patent application for a device that – wait for it – has the computer and the keyboard all in one unit. Mind. Blowing. Except for one thing: isn't that what all computers used to look like? US Patent Application 20220057845 describes a "computer in an input device", which is but one way of visualising this …

  1. Pen-y-gors

    Size of a real keyboard?

    My last Spectrum was in fact a full-size keyboard with a Specy motherboard etc built in

    Much nicer than the dead flesh keyboard! That would have been about 1983?

    Aint innovation grand!

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Size of a real keyboard?

      Ah, the Spectrum+ 48K? Had one myself. Got it for Christmas '84, and ­­it cost £179.99, unless my increasingly elderly braincells mislead me.

      (Edit: Just checked wikipedia. I was out by £0.04, but correct on the year - apparently, it came out in October of '84.)

      Coincidentally, or not, I have backed the second release of the ZX Spectrum Next on Kickstarter. And recently bought myself an rPi 400. Guess I'm intrinsically drawn to this form-factor that Apple has just invented.

      1. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Size of a real keyboard?

        Yes, I was selling these early computers in a branch of John Lewis at the time.

        Acorn Electron (mine had a weird yellow terminal screen that had no case on, just a frame, everything exposed).

        BBC Micro 128 (I think), it looked flash with multi-coloured keys though I don't remember many selling

        Commodore 64 - hot cakes

        Atari (cannot remember the model, again very popular

        ZX Spectrum, smaller than the others and I recall the keyboards on one model giving issues.

        Then the multitude of games, all on cassette.......

      2. William Towle
        Thumb Up

        Re: Size of a real keyboard?

        > Ah, the Spectrum+ 48K? Had one myself. Got it for Christmas '84, and ­­it cost £179.99, unless my increasingly elderly braincells mislead me.

        Not necessarily. I pictured the DK'tronics keyboard we had (https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/entry/1000123/Hardware/DKTronics_Keyboard or something not unlike it), which you placed the Speccy motherboard inside and connected via the original's internal ribbon connector socket.

        With ours, the original PCB occupied perhaps a quarter of the internal footprint, and the ports were exposed to the outside world via appropriately-spaced holes. The relatively thick plastic (and occasionally the height, for things with an open-square bracket profile like the Kempston joystick adapter) of the new case made some peripherals hard to connect depending on their shape, which I suspect is what they're getting at with the "DK Microdrive compatible" claim.

        1. xeroks
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: Size of a real keyboard?

          I had a dk tronics keyboard too, mostly because i'd hammered the grey one to death. The "real" keyboard was significantly better.

          The peripherals not plugging in was a problem easily solved. Anytime I wanted to use my mate's specdrum, I just took the keyboard part of it off. By design (or fluke) the cable was long enough for the keyboard to be plugged in and usable but not actually in its proper place.

          One of the nice things about the dktronics one was the power brick could be fitted inside the unit, which was much neater than having it on the floor.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Size of a real keyboard?

          I think I'll patent a computer inside a keyboard inside a keyboard. I don't think Apple will get to that first.

        3. Ernst Blofelt

          Re: Size of a real keyboard?

          I have a couple of these for my speccy collection

          and even one for the zx81

          Interesting to note most do not have a space bar !

      3. Jason Hindle

        Re: Meh

        I had an original Spectrum that I’d taken to a well dodgy place in Manc that put the internals into a + body/keyboard. I bet some here did that with their own hands. WTF are Apple thinking? Even if this is an M1 Mac inside a Magic Keyboard, there is no way this is a valid patent. What drugs are they on?

        1. tezboyes

          Re: Meh

          Short answer Capitalism.

          Longer answer, insane patent law that makes it easier for large monopolies to dominate than for small innovators to make a change.

          So patenting anything and sueing others for using it is a profitable move, for the company and for the lawyers.

          Especially when those evaluating said patents won't be able to check everything.

          1. teknopaul Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            I would not be surprised if some kid at Apple who lives in an Apple bubble with all Apple kit at home and at work actually thought they invented this.

            Big Tech should get fined for patent abuse if they don't do basic due diligence IMHO.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Size of a real keyboard?

      My brother, my Dad and I relocated our rubber thump Speccy and put it inside an IBM keyboard.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Size of a real keyboard?

        I spent ages modding an IBM golfball typewriter only to discover the world had moved on when I finished! I still lust over a tellytype having used one for a while after doing punched cards!

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Size of a real keyboard?

          My first "real" PC, around 1988, was a Durango F-85 (as seen here), complete with built-in daisywheel printer, dual 5¼" floppies, and keyboard. The monitor was separate, so I suppose technically it qualifies as a system-in-keyboard computer like this patent. All 6 tons of it.

          Never did find a boot disk for the thing, so it just took up (a lot of) space and clicked, clunked, dimmed the room lights, whirred and displayed a flashing cursor when I powered it on. I'd been told it needed a CP/M boot disk, but reading the above link it turns out it used its own proprietary OS - I never stood a chance of obtaining one in those pre-Internet days! (OK, pedants... pre-pervasive Internet...)

    3. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Size of a real keyboard?

      Pre-Spectrum, what about the ZX80 and ZX81 (Timex whatevers in the States, I believe)?

      But... given foldable... my head is hurting trying to work out how many billion examples of prior art laptops have been produced in the last thirty or forty years.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Size of a real keyboard?

        Prior to Sinclair, even his first ZX80, there was the TRS-80 Model 1 and the Apple ][, both released in 1977. The Wikipediathingy will probably give exact dates and I'm not including the Commodore PET as that had a screen built in too. Both the Apple ][ and TRS-80 were the first mass market computers and both exactly fit the patent description and were sold pre-built. There were other, some released sooner, but were not really mass market and most were either in kit-form or the case was an optional extra :-)

    4. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Size of a real keyboard?

      Yeah, if they let them Apple wil patent even pizza boxes and no I am not kidding.

      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/16/that-one-time-apple-patented-pizza-box

      That by the way is the same design previously used in plastic containers for cakes and similar food stuff, but apparently is possible to patent anything even if it already exists and you did not invent it.

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: Size of a real keyboard?

        If you don't allow Apple to patent already existing ideas then they wouldn't get to file many patents at all.

    5. tezboyes

      Re: Size of a real keyboard?

      Being just a PFY at the time I got a CPC6128 - as it included CP/M.

      i.e. the same o/s my dad had on the SuperBrain he brought home from his job :)

  2. Pen-y-gors

    Output?

    Presumably you plug it into the TV?

    1. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge

      Re: Output?

      UHF, composite or RGB with separate sync?

      1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Output?

        UHF Channel 38.

        1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: Output?

          In NTSC

          The rest of the world will just need new TVs that support NTSC (and only NTSC) - a small price to pay for such a revolutionary device.

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Output?

            Except this time it will stand for Never The Same Computer twice

          2. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Output?

            I remember watching my first episodes of Star Trek on NTSC TVs stateside. I loved the way the red shirts saturated the screen.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Output?

              Colour TVs in the UK are the superior PAL - but that didn't stop the early users turning colour saturation up to 11. I suppose by buying a new expensive TV - then they wanted their money's worth.

              1. Blackjack Silver badge

                Re: Output?

                Around here we got TVs that can SWITCH DISPLAYS since at least the 90s, the fact not every TV can do that nowadays smells fishy.

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge
                  FAIL

                  Re: Output?

                  My Sony Trinitron, c1997 or so was certainly not the first of their models to be capable of displaying 50/60Hz and PAL/NTSC/SECAM.

                  And while my LG TV now says it'd be quite happy with anything from 24Hz upwards, any colour format and even has a tuner capable of VHF as well as UHF, it really doesn't like VHS. There's something about the slightly wobbly signal, even from my (when it was new) high-end S-VHS recorder that it just can't lock to. I had to resurrect an old "video editor" which had a digital framestore & timebase corrector.

                  Progress?

                  The last TV I bought had precisely two HDMI sockets, one F-type, one "UHF aerial" type (I keep forgetting what they are called), one USB socket and a network socket. The network socket is a right pain when plugged in - plastering the startup screen with useless adverts, and there is no composite, no component, no SCART, no VGA, no analogue audio out, not even a 3.5mm headphone socket, though thankfully there is an optical digital audio out which means I can connect up a pair of external speakers because another thing we've lost to "progress" (i.e. thin TVs) is any pretence at worthwhile built-in loudspeakers. At least the old tube TVs had enough room for (say) a 6" x 3" elliptical with plenty of room to breathe and facing forwards for heaven's sake, not directly down into the table! This is just the kitchen TV, I really shouldn't have to be connecting it to a HiFi just to get intelligible sound.

                  </rant>

                  M.

                  1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: Output?

                    There are some remarkably decent tiny speakers available on the market these days which sound very good for their size compared to much larger cardboard cone speakers of yesteryear. But they still need to be mounted properly and, in the case of modern TVs, actually installed and properly placed into the device instead of the shitty ones they actually use that seem to be loosely fitted into any leftover space in the case.

                    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                      Re: Output?

                      I'm sure there are, but with speakers size is (nearly) everything, and all the "tricks" used to make small speakers sound big come with compromises, from the horrid EQ Bose needs to deal with their resonant cavities (and the resulting "missing" parts you only notice when listening on a more conventional system) to drivers which sound great from 4ft away at moderate volumes, but absolutely awful on the other side of the kitchen with the volume turned up enough to be heard over the bubbling chip fat or the Kenwood Chef.

                      I wouldn't have fancied mounting my Trinitron on the kitchen wall, but even my wife's old 14" JVC put out better sound from its single 4" speaker than most LCDs I've heard recently!

                      M.

            2. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Output?

              I loved the way the red shirts saturated the screen.

              some of the red saturation may have been caused by the physics of the older TV picture tubes. Red phosphors were not as bright so you had to turn the electron gun up to 11 to get any brightness in the red range. As such, a really bright red would too easily saturate. It was a compromise of screens that were too dim to begin with and extending the life of the picture tube beyond the warranty period. Go fig, right?

              (I have seen this happen with cheap TVs made in the 90's, too)

      2. Evilgoat76

        Re: Output?

        Or Sync on green to be bloody awkward.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Output?

          Composite sync or separate horizontal and vertical sync?

          IIRC I also had to deal with the polarity of the sync signal with a certain monitor / graphics card

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Output?

      Next they will patent exernal disks connected to the keyboard PC.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Output?

        No, first they will patent a pocketable "cassette" with magnetic tape that can conveniently store programmes and, perhaps, music too.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Output?

          I imagine there will be a special iPencil that winds the tape back on the cassette in a design collaboration with Perrier-Jouët and Dremel.

          1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

            Re: Output?

            I had a Maplin re-winder; blue with orange handle that saved me from RSI and a fortune in batteries. I've a sneaky feeling it's still in the loft somewhere.............

          2. LDS Silver badge

            "I imagine there will be a special iPencil"

            Of course. It will be shiny-shiny and cost $999.99.

            1. Dizzy Dwarf

              Re: "I imagine there will be a special iPencil"

              It won’t work - they will round out the edges and it won’t engage the sprocket.

    3. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Output?

      Almost. I suspect it will be optionally wirelessly connected to a screen too so effectively its a laptop with a big external screen, which is how many people are using their laptops when working from home as they find the laptop screen to be way too small for extended work.

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Output?

        > Almost. I suspect it will be optionally wirelessly connected to a screen too

        Ah, good point. And being Apple there will be a wireless dongle to plug into the monitor that will, no doubt, cost rather more than a Fire Stick.

      2. PM from Hell
        FAIL

        Re: Output?

        I'm a Contract PM and have a nice home office set up which has worked with every client I've worked with over the past 4 or 5 years. I suspect most of us who regularly work at home have something similar.

        I use a desktop docking station with a USB connection to whichever laptop I'm currently using. That connects up to the dual screen set up, wireless keyboard and mouse, webcam, sound system etc.

        It gives me a nice desktop space and an HD / HiFi set up for video calls

        Whilst the dock is a Toshiba device the fact it uses display link drivers means that all the major laptop vendors have them included in their builds for their own 'universal' docking station. I've only had one issue where the helpful build engineers had removed all the 'extraneous' drivers from the build but that was fixed by a quick google search for the Dell docking station which included the display link drivers and a call to the clients service desk to have them installed off we went.

        The proposed apple device adds nothing to this set up and would actually complicate things probably at increased cost

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Output?

          "I'm a Contract PM [...]"

          If that's Boris - then tear up the contract asap.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: Output?

            I think you just blew the chance of an invitation to a party at No. 10 - that's probably Boris' praetorian guard who downvoted your post, and probably will be downvoting this post

      3. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Output?

        Will it have special feet for use in that role?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Output?

          No, but they’re available for just £200 each.

      4. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Output?

        I suspect it will be optionally wirelessly connected to a screen too so effectively its a laptop with a big external screen

        If it has USB-C (or whatever) it needn't be wireless, use the cable to connect directly to a "screen with built-in docking station" (see what I did there?) Instant display with additional connectivity on the display unit itself which also, of course, powers the computer. Yours for an additional £2,995.

        Wireless mouse, this being Apple. Oh, optional wireless mouse. For £299.

        But the "laptop without a screen" idea is, basically, just an RPi400 with a bit more money thrown at it.

        M.

    4. dajames Silver badge

      Re: Output?

      Presumably you plug it into the TV?

      Plug it in? That's a bit old hat, isn't it?

      Couldn't it just 'cast to a suitably-equipped TV or a Chromecast dongle or equivalent gadget?

      ... but maybe Apple haven't patented that yet ...?

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. ZeroPete

    Atari ST ?

    Wait...Apple are trying to patent an Atari ST ?

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Atari ST ?

      Atari ST... ah yes, wasn't that the inferior knockoff clone of the Amiga 500?

      (Note icon.)

      1. spireite Silver badge

        Re: Atari ST ?

        It was a knockoff of the Amiga 500... that's no joke,

        1. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

          Re: Atari ST ?

          I know at least one person who still has an Atari ST in their recording studio, it had a nice clean MIDI controller

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Atari ST ?

          I'm pretty sure the chronology implies that it is a joke.

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Atari ST ?

            Yes, it was a joke. I was trolling "for teh lulz" as I believe the kids say, when they're not listening to their popular beat combos and hanging out in their depraved coffee bars with their "bobby-socks".

            Now, gather round and pay attention as I deign to share my opinion on the absolute superiority of vi over emacs, or was it the other way around...

    2. simonlb
      FAIL

      Re: Atari ST ?

      Or even ZX Spectrum +2, Amstrad CPC 464, Acorn Electron, Oric 1, Oric Atmos...

      As usual with the US Patent Service, common sense prior art will almost certainly be ignored and it will be granted

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Atari ST ?

        Upvote for the Oric 1 mention, it always seems to get forgotten. My first computer, because it seemed a great deal. 64kb of RAM (of course it wasn't mentioned the top 16k is normally hidden under the ROM) and a non-chicklet keyboard (but actually the keys were similar to the ones in calculators, not great for typing). Also introduced the joys of working around unfixable bugs in the built-in BASIC. A great learning experience!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Atari ST ?

          Zap

        3. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: Atari ST ?

          Are you sure? Oric 1 was originally released months late as 16K of RAM, IIRC only 13K was available to users (mine is still boxed in the loft!) I didn't think they releleased the "48k" version before the Oric Atmos superceeded it? Perhaps my brain is confuzzled ...

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge

            Re: Atari ST ?

            I am sure. The 16k and 64k versions were released at the same time. I bought my 64k version (which as noted, actually had only 48k available to the user) from a Finnish importer in 1983. The Oric Atmos was released a year later, and I was pretty pissed because it was clearly superior: Had a proper keyboard and a bug-fixed ROM. What the Oric 1 should have been originally.

        4. spireite Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Atari ST ?

          The Oric, a computer before its time in fact.

          First mentioned by Shakespeare - the british version of Da Vinci no less

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Atari ST ?

          Hark the Oric angels sing

          Join we in an oval ring

          SHOOT, EXPLODE then ZAP and PING

          Hark the Oric angels sing

          Why can I remember a winning entry from a Personal Computer News christmas carol contest from the best part of 40 years ago, but I can't remember what colour bin to put out this week?

    3. MrBanana Silver badge

      Re: Atari ST ?

      And also a BBC Micro, Amiga, TI, Tandy and pretty much any other home computer from the 1980s. If they want to patent retro computing then they should be forced to use 8-bit CPUs.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: 1980s

        And 70s: Ohio Superboard, Nascom, Commodore PET and ITT 2020. (If you really want to wind up the most extreme Apple fanboys: the Xerox Alto.)

        1. Skiron

          Re: 1980s

          And Dragon.

          1. Chewi

            Re: 1980s

            Don't forget the MSX!

            1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

              Re: 1980s

              Ti99/4a a whole 16 bits, for 'top Trumping' your mates.

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Happy

                Re: 1980s

                And the Aquarius and Atari 400/800 (he said, reaching deeper into his recollection of obscure early-80s 8-bit home microcomputers...)

                1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                  Re: 1980s

                  I didn't see the Jupiter Ace mentioned.

                  Whoever thought kids would appreciate a computer based on FORTH?

                  M.

                  1. David 132 Silver badge
                    Coat

                    Re: 1980s

                    I heard they had plans to ship it with a ROM-based Chinese strategy board game and its spreadsheet application too - the putative marketing slogan being "Go, Forth, and Multiply".

                    (sorry)

                    But yes, I remember the Ace. Definitely an interesting also-ran.

                  2. unimaginative
                    Pint

                    Re: 1980s

                    Those of us who first learned BASIC would proably be better programmers if we had learned FORTH instead.

                    Another computer not mentioned, was the one I had before the Atari ST, the Grundy Newbrain. A nice machine in many ways, but I remember it most fondly for its superb build quality.

                  3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    Re: 1980s

                    "Whoever thought kids would appreciate a computer based on FORTH?"

                    Probably the same people who marketed RPN calculators. Only one kid at school chose that option that I remember. He tried to show off the "superiority". Everyone else just went "WTF?" :-)

        2. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: 1980s

          RM 380Z/480Z?

          Exidy Sorcerer....

          1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

            Re: 1980s

            Wasn't the 380Z based on an industrial casing and the 480Z used the keyboard form factor?

          2. Totally not a Cylon Silver badge

            Re: 1980s

            480Z definitely, but the 380Z was separate keyboard.

            Big black box with a keyswitch on the front and 2 8inch floppy drives; basically a PC before IBM made the first PX-XT

            1. Skiron

              Re: 1980s

              I forgot the Lynx.

            2. slime

              Re: 1980s

              380Z - first desktop at my school, prior to that you had to go a PDP 11/70 at a nearby polytechnic! All I can, very vaguely, remember is that BASIC loaded from a cassette and resided in memory. One hex editor later and even us barely ZX80/81 literate youths were changing error messages for "syntax error" to "[fumble-fingered-teacher] error" and redirecting "run" to "new". We were the barely technical kids, guy in the year above us did something irreparable to (I think) the user profiles on the polytechnic PDP - Legend!

            3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              Re: 1980s

              Yes, but that's the point of the other systems mentioned. The processor was in the keyboard for the 480Z. That wasn't the case for the 380Z, which IIRC was an S100 bus based system. The processor, storage, graphics card et. al. were in the big black box, and the keyboard was... just a keyboard.

              And I'm sure it wasn't the first 3 box design, either, and although it could classed as a personal computer as defined in the late '70s and early '80s, it sure as hell wasn't an IBM PC.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Atari ST ?

        In the 1980s the local TV shop was selling something called "Micro Professor"(??). A nice small device - ideal for using as a disco lights controller with its development done on an Apple ][. They were basically a total Apple clone. Bought a couple at fire sale prices when Apple sued the manufacturer.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Atari ST ?

          The Micro Professor I've met was nothing like an Apple ][. It had a Z80, not a 6502 and was definitely for "enthusiasts". I managed to buy a MP printer from somewhere like Greenweld or Cricklewood many years ago, and it certainly isn't a plug-and-play device. The manual goes into great detail about how exactly to bit-bang the interface to make the thing work.

          M.

    4. TheRealRoland

      Re: Atari ST ?

      Philips P2000

  4. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Philips Maestro

    The Philips Maestro had a lot of functionality built into the keyboard unit, to the point that it cause all manner of grief when your colleague dumped a litre of orange juice into theirs.

    The last time I saw one it was stuck to the wall of the cabin of Starbug in Red Dwarf.

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Philips Maestro

      Ah yes, playing "spot the item glued to the walls and spray-painted to look future-y" was always fun when watching Red Dwarf. Pretty sure I saw an Amiga keyboard or two and what was possibly the instrument cluster shroud from a Ford Escort there in many of the early episodes.

      And much of the "computer" stuff was Amiga based too, such as the terminal Lister was using when Kryten's detached eyeball scuttled up his boxer shorts (long story. Watch the episode. Or "just buy a potion from Gandalf the master wizard! That's what I usually do!").

      (Edit: Holy crap. That episode was 1992?? Blimey.)

  5. sorry, what?
    Facepalm

    Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

    WTF? Has Apple never heard of doing an internet search?

    Obviously, we know the US Patent Office hasn't, so they will give it the thumbs up.

    This reminds me of a current event where a protagonist is rewriting history...

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

      It's a quirk of the US patent system that you can apply for, and receive, a patent, WITHOUT any prior art checks.

      It's then down to anyone who feels their Intellectual Property is damaged by the new patent, (eg current owners of existing patents for virtually the same thing) to defend themselves.

      In a situation where there is no virtually similar patent (but lots and lots of prior art), the IP legalese becomes ... 'muddy'.

      What else would you expect from a system written by lawyers...

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

        In the US, the only prior art by a US company which is still surving is Apple so they can patent it and troll everyone else from abroad, the RPi foundation included.

        Wouldn't do for schools to have a cheap education computer in the US when they could have an expensive education appliance from Apple.

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

      The US patent office will probably just rubber stamp this as they do seem utterly useless. Then Apple can go after someone who infringes on it, knowing perfectly well that prior art exists even in their own product lines from 30 years ago. But if the infringing part is a small fry such as a kickstarter campaign without the money to pay for the lawyer to challenge it in court, its still a win for Apple.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

        "But if the infringing part is a small fry such as a kickstarter campaign without the money to pay for the lawyer to challenge it in court, its still a win for Apple."

        They'll be able to finance it by selling tickets to the hearing. I can imagine the defence showing the Apple witness one ancient all in one box after another and asking them how Apple's patent is sufficiently different that this isn't prior art.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

          The Apple II was the first of the big three computers released in 1977 in this format. They could try to argue it was their idea all along as the prior art is theirs.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

            If they argued that, it would fail just the same. They would have to have patented it then to claim ownership. If they did that, protection would have expired in 1997 and anyone could copy it. So that would be a fun argument to watch them play out.

    3. Ignazio

      Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

      Psion, BlackBerry and Planet computers with their Gemini and Cosmo also want a word.

    4. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

      If this is a serious application, then I think Apple need new patent lawyers as the ones they currently must be utterly crap.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

        Like Apples design team, their lawyers are probably too young to know about all the older prior art :-)

        Old is n new, new is old, buy more patented shiny!

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Re: Acorn electron, Sinclair QL, various pre-built Raspberry Pies...

          "buy more patented shiny"

          That reminds me of the "in industry name" for embossed security holograms (credit cards etc) - shiny shit. LOL

  6. Big_Boomer

    The US Patent office wouldn't recognise a novel idea if it jumped up and bit the end of their collective *****. When is the USA going to recognise the difference between an idea (patent) and a design (copyright)? The patent will be worthless as it will never stand up in court, but that won't stop the Apple twonks from using it to bully other users of "their" design with their overpaid lawyers. I wonder if it will have rounded corners? <LOL>

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      The actual features at issue were: glass to the edge of the device (that only Samsung could manufacture at the time), four columns of icons (to match the number of fingers on most hands) and Steve's most astonishing invention - the colour black.

      1. ITMA Bronze badge

        "..and Steve's most astonishing invention - the colour black."

        I think the Martin Marietta Corp might have a word or two to say about that.

        https://patents.google.com/patent/US4111762A/en

        And those of a monotheistic religious persuasion might also wish to quarrel with Steve Jobs about it:

        Book of Genesis

        1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

        1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

        Darkness=black ergo prior art.

        1. unimaginative
          Angel

          So Apple can sue God now. I had thought they needed a few more patents first,

          1. ITMA Bronze badge

            They can try..... LOL

            I wouldn't bet on their chances...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            "So Apple can sue God now."

            Why on earth would Apple want to sue His Jobbines?

            1. ITMA Bronze badge
              Joke

              "His Jobbines"

              That is probably more accurate than you may think since in certain parts of the world "jobbie" has a specific meaning:

              "jobbie (plural jobbies) (In particular Scotland, slang) Faeces; a piece of excrement"

              aka A TURD...

              LOL

  7. Roger Kynaston Silver badge

    I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

    Also, weren't the VT terminals effectively a computer in a keyboard? As others have said, it is likely that prior art will be ignored though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

      No, the PET was an all-in-one unit... CRT screen, processor and keyboard in one box

      1. gotes

        Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

        Ah, a knock-off iMac?

        1. msobkow Silver badge

          Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

          Yeah - only about 15-20 years before Apple (surprise, surprise) copied the key design features.

          Apple: Boldly claiming to invent that which has gone before, as apparently they think if Siri can't find the prior art, it doesn't exist. :D

      2. ThomH

        Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

        ... it's also half a year younger than the Apple II.

      3. ITMA Bronze badge

        Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET

        I've had several.

        The (metal) case for the orignal 2001 (4K/8K) model was allegedly made by a Canadian BBQ manufacturer.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: I'll see your Atari ST and raise you a Commodore PET @Roger

      And if you are talking about DEC VT1xx and following terminals, the electronics were in the monitor, not the keyboard.

  8. thondwe

    ZX81

    Predating the Spectrum - I replaced the ZX81 keyboard/case with a "tin box" with proper clackity keys. And if the patent actually says "input device", then a touch screen with a computer in...

    1. ibmalone

      Re: ZX81

      Any laptop too.

      And their attempt to claim "maybe this has been done before, but we've added something new!" is to say it can be more compact because of increasing miniaturisation is essentially the definition of obvious to someone familiar with the state of the art, or even just the general state of technology now. (And yes, the Spectrum ZX81 was essentially just big enough for its keyboard, Sinclair's talent was stripping things down to the bare essentials.)

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: ZX81

        If they want to play the miniaturisation game I'll point at the 2008 HTC G1 Android phone, currently sitting on my 'obsolete mobiles' shelf. Packing a QWERTY keyboard, rollerball, screen and undeniably it's a computer pretending to be a phone. About 115x55x20mm small.

        And AFAIK not the earliest computer in that form factor, just a lot more computer like.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ZX81

          Nokia Communicator?

      2. ITMA Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: ZX81

        "And their attempt to claim 'maybe this has been done before, but we've added something new!' "

        Of course they have added something new dear boy.... The've added the word APPLE...

    2. sorry, what?

      Re: ZX81

      You forget the door wedge called the ZX80.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: ZX81

      ZX Basic interface used a keyboard with BASIC keyword printed on them for shortcut typing with FN+shift combinations and didn’t lend itself well to standard keyboards.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: ZX81

        Unless (on the Spectrum) you were running Beta Basic, which - provided you could remember how to type LOAD "" in the first place, which I seem to recall was J-(symshift)P-(symshift)P - allowed you to type keywords one character at a time.

  9. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Face smacks palm

    But this one has rounded corners! Therefore, you cannot hold it wrong.

  10. werdsmith Silver badge

    To really be able to ridicule this patent attempt, we need to look beyond the headline.

    Who can name a previous example of an integrated computer and input device that folds up to a small portable package and doesn’t have an integrated display so no laptops, netbooks, notebooks etc?

    1. sorry, what?
      Holmes

      Depends what you mean by computer and input device...

      But have you heard of the Nokia E70 with a gullwing fold out keyboard in a mobile device, or the Blackberry, or perhaps the Samsung Galaxy Fold?

      Oh, sorry, these all have displays (to be useable portably), so obviously not worth doing.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Depends what you mean by computer and input device...

        Why would they be not worth doing? Where did that come from? They would not affect Apple's patent claim.

        1. ibmalone

          Re: Depends what you mean by computer and input device...

          I present my colleague's laptop with broken screen as prior art. Folding input device with embedded computer and no display, wouldn't be the first time that's happened either.

          In any case, patents are meant to be non-obvious: folding keyboards exist, computers in keyboards exist without displays exist, computers that fold exist, computers with keyboards that fold exist, and as mentioned, my colleagues computer without a display and which folds exists. No Nobel prizes are awaiting the person who removes a display or adds a hinge in exactly the same context that many already have.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      That will be a Palm Pilot paired with the Targus Stowaway (folding) keyboard.

      Obviously, the CPU is in the Palm and not the keyboard, but as others have pointed out, putting the CPU in the keyboard is obvious as evidenced by long standing prior art.

      Likewise wireless connection between CPU and display. So on the evidence which ever way Apple tries to cut it, this 'invention' is obvious.

    3. unimaginative
      FAIL

      Firstly that is one possible embodiement of the claim, not the main claim itself.

      Also given that there are computers embedded in key boards and folding keyboards combning the two is too obvious to deserve a patent.

      Also, a quick search found this:

      https://www.geeky-gadgets.com/pipo-kb2-mini-pc-enclosed-in-folding-keyboard-19-04-2016/

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        That's nice! I was swapping out a system board on a laptop the other day and that board would almost be small enough to fit inside that folding case. The laptop was a full-fat Win10 device, 8GB RAM on board + a SoDIMM slot and NVMe SSD, decent enough for most everyday use cases, so the idea of something other than crappy little Chromebooks being built into that sort of form factor has already been superseded by the possibility of current mid-range full PC devices.

  11. Smudged

    Perhaps the folding device could include another screen within the folded surfaces, and could perhaps be used on top of your lap. I think Apple may be onto something here.

  12. Natalie Gritpants Jr Silver badge

    And just in case they think it's inovative because its size is constrained by the keys

    Most keyboards have a computer in them in order to talk USB or Bluetooth or whatever. Sometimes they have zero cables too.

  13. wolfetone Silver badge

    I'm going to give Apple the benefit of the doubt here.

    I'm going to say that the people involved in this process, the designer, the accountants, the person/people who puts the patent together are just of an age where they don't remember such a thing being done.

    You know, a bit like when Homer Simpson puts the legs on his chair to stop him falling over, thinking Edison had never had the same idea.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      You have missed the entire purpose of a patent. There is no point patenting anything original as there would be no-one to sue. A patent only has value if it is so obvious that lots of people are already infringing it.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I will give you the benefit of the doubt of it being a Monday for not getting the sarcasm.

  14. Richard 12 Silver badge
    WTF?

    99% of modern industrial control kit

    Amicus briefs will be inbound from all over the place.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: 99% of modern industrial control kit

      No, they won't. But the first lawsuit over that laughable but pitiful excuse for a patent will be quite entertaining.

  15. trevorde Silver badge

    Real innovation here

    Might be a foldable keyboard with a computer inside. Other than that, everything else is prior art.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Real innovation here

      >"with a computer inside"

      Probably covers the logic chips found on all PC keyboards since before the IBM PC...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just throwing out an idea here... why not extend the idea and include a screen... and make the keyboard virtual, possibly touch-screen... and maybe add a camera... then we could incorporate a videophone...

    $#!+ Apple already have a patent on that!

  17. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

    Essentially the idea is that ...

    "... you use your computer plugged into a display at work, then fold it up and put it in your bag to take home. At home, you unfold it and plug the single wire into another display and Robert is your mother's brother."

    I've got one exactly like that. That is - my old laptop with the dead screen...

  18. karlkarl Silver badge

    Could this be some subtle evidence that Apple is worried about competitor tech such as the Pi 400? (Or at least what it might evolve into).

    1. b0llchit Silver badge
      Joke

      If apple gets the patent and then sues Pi folks,... then yes, they may be a bit worried.

      Retrospectively, they will sue commodore too for both vic20 and c64. All of sir Clive's work is sue-worthy too. They are all blatant copies of apple's intellectual property as all of history recognizes apple's superiority and, more importantly, timeless designs. Apple owns all designs throughout time because apple's designs are timeless. Physics is undeniably on apple's side. The law needs to acknowledge apple's superiority too. So it has been decided.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge
        Pint

        >They are all blatant copies of apple's intellectual property as all of history recognizes apple's superiority and, more importantly, timeless designs.

        Did Apple's designs once appear on the back of a cereal box?

        Icon: Plus a packet of salted peanuts

  19. Andy E
    FAIL

    I can't see the point

    Nearly all the clients I deal with have shunted their users data to the cloud. Very little gets stored on the mobile/desk computer. So if your data is in the cloud, why do you need to take the computer home with you? Just use the one you have at home.

    With the advances in the mobile phones these are now powerful enough to use as mobile computers (providing you have the right peripherals). Perhaps another reason why I can't see the point of Apples patent application.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: I can't see the point

      Yes, but they still need a computer that is trusted to access that data. If the company has purchased laptops, the user just has to move that one to have an identical environment without needing a second computer. Most companies I've dealt with don't trust users' personal computers for the required access.

      As for phones, I'd like that to be true, but the software often restricts the utility as a desktop device. I'm not only talking about things that require specialist software on the client, but also more normal office tasks. I have never seen a company attempt using phones in the role in which laptops and desktops are routinely employed.

      As I understand Apple's concept, it's just a laptop without being useful when the user doesn't have desktop peripherals, which seems unhelpful to me. The only possible benefit I can see is if they were able to make the hinges work so well that the keyboard and all the computer components could be pocketed, thus making it more portable than a general laptop. I don't think that's happening, and even then it wouldn't be that useful.

  20. chivo243 Silver badge
    Coat

    Intelliwriter?

    It even had a tiny, tiny screen...

  21. heyrick Silver badge

    Don't Apple have prior art on their own "invention"?

    Just like the BBC Micro, Electron, Acorn A3000, Otic, C64, Amigas, and a dozen other 80s machines...

    ...comes the Apple II.

  22. Binraider Silver badge

    That this is a thing is simply insanity. The volume of pre-existing work dwarfs any reasonable measure.

    Instead of rules-lawyering perhaps Apple should concentrate on making good hardware and software. You know, those things that define why we want them. Acting like MS on a bad day is just going to bring them ire. Deservedly so.

  23. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    At one point I used to take my CPC464 to university - had a monitor and printer at home, monitor and printer and interface cables for connection to other geeks' CP/M devices at university so I didn't have to cart big lumps home on the train. The hacked up dual external 3.5 flopppy was a bit of a brick though ...

  24. Tom 7 Silver badge

    This has got to be some kind of decoy for something really evil they are planning.

    Or have they gone the full Putin?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: This has got to be some kind of decoy for something really evil they are planning.

      They're waiting for the day that their time-travel project finally hits pay dirt and they can send the patent back in time and sue EVERYONE. Including themselves.

  25. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The patent also invents the cooling fan

    "The computing device can include an air-moving apparatus to move air along an air flow pathway"

    More prosaically, what the 3 modern day engineering visionaries who wrote this patent have invented is a standard iMac setup of monitor, keyboard and mouse, but one of them has had the flash of inspiration that said "hey, let's put all the computery bits in the keyboard instead of the monitor!".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The patent also invents the cooling fan

      Yeah, because everyone spills coffee on the monitor and not the keyboard.

  26. The Axe

    Display/Screen?

    Since a computer with just an input device is not much use since you need an output device to see your results I have invented a new computing device which has both an input device and an output device. Since it won't be big or heavy, it'll be something you can put on top of your lap whilst you having a coffee or on the train. Wonder what I shall call it. How does laptop sound?

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Display/Screen?

      How does laptop sound?

      Needs a nice acronym, how about: Testicle Warming Autonomous Terminal?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Display/Screen?

        I tried upvoting you multiple time, but the El Reg voting system seems to be broken. I shall just pop down to the Patent Office and patent the idea of upvoting more than once.

    2. Daniel von Asmuth
      Boffin

      Re: Display/Screen?

      I'm afraid the terminal (monitor with keyboard attached) has been patented already, as has the teletype (printer plus keyboard in one unit). And then there was the HP Integral that combined a little computer, keyboard, screen, printer and storage (floppy disc drive).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Single input/output port

    Looking at claim 1, the key "inventive" component appears to be that the computer will only have one input/output port which will deliver power and input signals, and output signals from the "processing unit" (claim 1). As far as I can remember the Spectrum had separate power and TV-OUT connectors, so wouldn't be covered. Claims 2-12 depend on claim 1.

    Claim 13 describes a Spectrum almost exactly, except that it includes a fan. Did the Spectrum have one, or just the big heatsink? Claims 14-16 depend on 13.

    Claim 17 describes an all-in-one except that the base of the enclosure is the heatsink. Claims 18-20 depend on this.

    I don't know about any of the other all-in-one designs mentioned in the article or comments, and my memory of the original Spectrum is a little hazy after all these years. Can anyone comment on them?

    Are any of these differences "novel" or "inventive"? That will probably come down to a jury trial to decide. (In the USA patent trials are jury trials, rather than specialist courts.)

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Single input/output port

      Yes the Speccy had separate power and TV out connections

      No it didn't have a fan, just a heatsink

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: No CPU heat sink

        I just checked a photo of the board. Even the voltage regulator did not have a separate heat sink - just a big patch of copper on the PCB.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No CPU heat sink

          If I remember correctly, the heatsink was purely for the voltage regulator. The computery stuff in there didn't need a heatsink and fans were unheard of back then.

      2. Negative Charlie

        Re: Single input/output port

        "No it didn't have a fan, just a heatsink"

        Mine did. Being 12" wide and running off 240v it was a bit big to fit inside the case, but it was still an essential component and Speccy wouldn't work without it.

      3. John 110

        Re: Single input/output port

        No it didn't have a fan, just a heatsink and a bottle of milk straight out the fridge.

        There, FTFY

    2. John Riddoch

      Re: Single input/output port

      Laptops have had docking stations for years which use one connection, so arguably (and profitably for lawyers...) claim 1 is invalid.

      Speccies were fanless, I'm pretty sure. I don't recall fan noise from one and I had mine open periodically (I was that kind of kid....).

      As for the heatsink, surely someone has used the enclosure as part of heat dissipation before?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Single input/output port

        "As for the heatsink, surely someone has used the enclosure as part of heat dissipation before?"

        Without bothering to go back into history, there a many Raspberry Pi cases that act as passive heatsinks.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Single input/output port

      The commenter above may have a killer counter-example to claims 1-12. If there were a mobile phone with a single output socket for power/data and a physical keyboard, then that would invalidate 1-12. It would need to be recent enough to only have the micro-USB/USB-C (no headphone socket) and old enough for a physical keyboard though. The last of the Blackberries?

      1. ibmalone

        Re: Single input/output port

        No, patents aren't restrictive in that way, if you can use the device on the one port it doesn't matter that it has others that provide extra or duplicate functionality, this is why you can patent a device that's a refinement of an existing patent. So any device that can run from a USB-C port already fits it, hence the broken laptop example.

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Single input/output port

      "Are any of these differences "novel" or "inventive"?"

      IANAL, but I doubt it.

      Claim 1? Modern mobile phones only have one port these days, since they did away with the headphone jack. So there's nothing innovative here (and, no, sticking it on a computer isn't innovation).

      Claim 13? Might be a bit harder as, as has been pointed out, older kit didn't tend to run hot enough to require such things. The fans were often in the power supply and the hot parts (processor and video chip) tended to just have a heatsink. Hell, my old Pentium 75 box got away with just a big heatsink on the chip (my 2.4GHz Pentium has a tower block heatsink with a fan on both sides!). That said, can one really call adding a fan innovation given the result of not having forced cooling might be somewhat... unpleasant?

      Claim 17? I've seen all sorts of weird and wonderful heatsink arrangements. Ever wondered why the metal sides of the S9 got so damn hot when the phone was busy? It's because it's metal, usefully doubles up as a heatsink. I'm not sure I've seen the base of a computer used as one, but I've certainly seen the base of printers and amplifiers used in that way. Tends to be where the voltage regulator and/or amp chip are bolted, if not to the back. It's probably more aesthetically pleasing to use the base as the heatsink (just as amps use the base and back) because those are the parts the user doesn't look at much. Same reason why all the I/O ports and crap are "around the back" out of sight.

  28. MJI Silver badge

    VIC20

    Got one in the loft and that is PC in keyboard

  29. Timbo Bronze badge

    Cambridge Z88?

    How about this for a "prior-art" but went into full production example:

    Cambridge Z88 - another of Sir Clives' (RIP) designs.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Z88

    It even has a LCD screen so you can see what you typed !

    1. milliemoo83

      Re: Cambridge Z88?

      "Cambridge Z88 - another of Sir Clives' (RIP) designs."

      And had a Z80 port of BBC Basic built in!

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Cambridge Z88?

      Willing to bet that the Z88 will be more productive than this crApple thing...

      Plus, you need to travel and work? Z88 got you covered...

      Power failure? No sweat, Z88 got you covered there as well.

      Want to avoid constant interruptions like antivirus popping up, windowsupdates popping up, system updates borking the system etc etc? Z88 also got you covered there.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Cambridge Z88?

        One of the most useful things I ever had was a Psion 3a organiser. Simple easy to use database, word processor, diary, and had a BASIC-like language to let you make custom apps. Some internal memory, along with plug in memory packs. Oh, and it ran for ages off two AA cells, and had a little CR20xx inside to keep things going whilst the batteries were changed. Not to mention a small but remarkably nice keyboard.

        1. ThomH

          Re: Cambridge Z88?

          Pedantically: it was a CR1620, not a CR20xx. Which means it was only 16mm in diameter (and 2mm tall), and therefore even more compact than a CR20xx.

        2. WozNZ
          Happy

          Re: Cambridge Z88?

          Loved my old Psion. I wrote the Accounts and Expenses application that Psion sold for it :)

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Cambridge Z88?

            Are you THE Woz? :-)))

      2. Martin
        Happy

        Re: Cambridge Z88?

        And if your battery ran out, and you'd forgotten your charger - just pop down to the local shops for four AA batteries and you'd be fine.

        I wish I still had mine - no idea what happened to it.

  30. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "an enclosure that defines an internal volume and an external surface"

    "A computing device can include an enclosure that defines an internal volume and an external surface"

    As far as I'm aware, with the exception of the Klein bottle all enclosures have an internal volume and an external surface. This would appear therefore to be prior art.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "an enclosure that defines an internal volume and an external surface"

      Yes, I love the way the claim says "can include", as if there's also the possibility of it not including :-)

  31. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Just the usual snarky comments, as should be expected. Anyone noticed that _nobody_ is building a device like this right now?

    I just got a new monitor with USB-C, I could plug in this keyboard and a mouse and be done. Perfect for shared workspaces, just unplug it when you leave then plug in where you sit the next morning. Seems a good idea. Downside: No battery. Unplug the USB-C cable and you have a brutal shutdown.

    But really I’d want to be able to get a keyboard, mouse and monitor of my choice. I’d shrink the macmini as far as possible, add something so I can attach it to the back of my monitor with the shortest possible cable, and add a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Monitor from £120 to £500, and you save a good amount compared to an iMac.

    1. Uncle Slacky
      FAIL

      > Anyone noticed that _nobody_ is building a device like this right now?

      Raspberry Pi 400 (mentioned in the headline) and ZX Spectrum Next are two that immediately spring to mind...

    2. ibmalone

      Nobody building it, fine, if there's a gap in the market they want to try they're welcome. The ridicule is for the fact that they think this could be patented and that they might even get away with doing so.

      Anyway, if you think anything new Apple creates is intended to save you money I've got an IBridge to sell you.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      "Anyone noticed that _nobody_ is building a device like this right now?"

      I know of a few places making such things. Running Mac OS, no, but the hardware exists. However, you've asked for a different product so you can bring your own keyboard, and there are lots of those. Tons of small desktops exist out there. Depending on exactly how small you want them, you can quite easily get ones that mount onto the back of a screen and have Intel or AMD processors sufficient to run Windows or Linux with pretty good speed for average workloads. There are even a few computers still using the form factor of the old Intel ComputeStick, but I wouldn't recommend them.

      Apple can build a computer in any shape they like. It won't make it patent-worthy, and if it's what you've asked for or what their claims appear to describe, it won't be something otherwise unobtainable.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I’d shrink the macmini as far as possible, add something so I can attach it to the back of my monitor with the shortest possible cable,"

      That's already been done. There's plenty of examples of comupters that mount onto the VESA screw mounts on the back of a monitor/TV already. They've been out for years. Likewise, custom monitor stands that take a standard VESA m ount screen on the front and a small PC on the back. There's a Raspbery PI in a VESA case running Kodi attached to the VESA screw mounts of my TV right now.

  32. Povl H. Pedersen

    Truly amazing patent

    Can't people see it ? This is a completely new invention.

    All former works has had a frame or something making the computer define the desktop space needed.

    This is completely different, here it is the desktop space of the keyboard that limits the computer size.

    I still have my ZX81, it had like 40% of the desktop area behind/above the keyboard. That could be saved with the new Apple patent.

    This is new true magic :-)

    1. Scene it all

      Re: Truly amazing patent

      My TV has a computer inside and a "human interface" on the outside. So does my microwave oven. The fancy indoor/outdoor clock/thermometer on my desk also has a computing device inside, with buttons on the outside.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How soon they forget

    DEC VK100 (Gigi) circa 1979-80

    ReGIS Graphics, built in BASIC, BARCO monitor, VT100 Keyboard, serial connection.

    A really nice toy - but rather pricey.

    - Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it

    Or something like that.

  34. msobkow Silver badge

    The patent system is badly broken...

  35. tiggity Silver badge

    Diagram

    When I saw that classic wedge shape I had to look at the diagram twice just to check it was not a total copy of a diagram of the Acorn Atom.

    US patents are just an embarrassment - on a par with the UK PM (Out of balance, to show I'm aware lots of UK stuff is shit too, just like some US stuff is good .. just not patents, ever)

  36. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    FAIL

    I'll get my trusty

    Camera out and take a nice photo of my Memotech MTX500 for them

    Keyboard* on top(input device), computer inside casing, nice rounded corners, and a host of connectors out the back (and side) (and inside for RS232/HDD card)

    *Note : Best damn keyboard I've ever used, nice clicky keys, nice action, all on a decent 1mm ally plate thats part of the casing.. no bounce, no dead feel(like this keyboard) and you can touch type/hammer away to your hearts content knowing the keys wont stick/bounce/fail like this crummy thing thats on top of a rubber membrane

    1. WowandFlutter

      Re: I'll get my trusty

      Agreed, +1 for the MTX512. Brilliant piece of design.

      Sadly, mine was a review machine and had to go back to the manufacturer. I still have my Oric 1 48k, Oric Atmos and Jupiter Ace (with 16k memory pack) though.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: I'll get my trusty

        Mine is about 20 inches from where I'm sitting

        Damned modern TV I have cant lock onto the crappy RF output though... but can still save/load stuff via a modded audio lead into this PC.

        Hey ho...

  37. martinusher Silver badge

    Back to the 1970s

    The first "computing device" I owned was a Superboard, a single board computer that had a full size keyboard as part of the PCB assembly. I got it in the late 70s. It was the way all computers were made prior to the PC which (I'd guess) used a separate keyboard because IBM already had a product line in standalone keyboards.

    (Wasn't it Tandy who marketed what looked like a standalone keyboard but was actually a complete computer?)

    1. slime

      Re: Back to the 1970s

      Tandy TRS-80 c.1977

      I had one of the UK clones, a Video Genie.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Back to the 1970s

        "I had one of the UK clones, a Video Genie."

        Same here. And it still works. Or at least it did last year, so I assume it still does.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Back to the 1970s

      "The first "computing device" I owned was a Superboard, a single board computer that had a full size keyboard as part of the PCB assembly."

      Yeah, but the case was an optional extra, so doesn't count in this context :-) Dito the similar UK101

  38. DS999 Silver badge

    As usual, commentards don't know how patents work

    You can't patent an idea, only an implementation of a particular idea. Even if there had never been a "computer in keyboard" before, if Apple successfully patented it it wouldn't prevent Microsoft or Dell from patenting their own take on a computer in a keyboard. For the same reason there wasn't a 17 year long monopoly where only one company was allowed a sell a "laptop".

    In your patent you describe how your particular embodiment of an idea operates. You can describe other potential ways to accomplish the same thing, but you can't possibly close out all possible avenues for something this general. If (to pick a really crazy scenario that everyone would agree would be something completely new) Apple had put chips making up the "computer" inside the individual keys instead of being on a motherboard, despite being something new that "idea" couldn't be patented.

    They could only describe how they accomplished it by describing the connection from the chips in the keys to the other chips in the other keys worked in a mechanical and electrical sense, and details like putting the biggest chip inside an oversized "enter" key. They could describe other methods to do the same thing, but only those particular embodiments of the idea would be patent protected. Someone else could come along and do that same thing differently, or better, and also patent a "computer in keyboard" with chips in the individual keys.

  39. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Try doing that with a Commodore 64

    Lots of kids had those sticking out of their bags running around in buses on bikes, everywhere in those days.

    Nothing could have prevented that.

  40. vincent himpe

    so

    after inventing the keyboardless screen (tablet) they now make a screenless keyboard ?

    next patent : combining one of each into a device.

  41. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Happy

    Foldable computer

    Oh, I can do this one! Like an Amstrad PPC.

  42. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Coat

    Wrong pic....

    An Apple ][+ had internal slots. Should have referenced a slotless Apple //c.

    Let me know if you need a picture, I'll dig it out of the attic for you.

  43. Franklin

    Stealth patent?

    Okay, so I read the patent, which was rough going, because it's tediously written even by the standards of patent applications.

    I came away from it with the strong feeling that they are NOT actually talking about a computer built into a keyboard, and the diagrams they included are perhaps clever misdirection.

    I mean, yes, they do talk about keyboards in the body of the application and they also show diagrams of keyboards. But a lot of the actual claims, the meat of the application, don't say computer, they say "computing device," "made of composites or aluminum," "with input capabilities," "foldable into two or three sections."

    That sounds like...

    ...smart glasses?

    Read the patent application thinking "smart glasses" and not "Commodore 64" and see if it makes sense to you all, too. I wonder, is Apple getting cagy with the language of their patent applications, since those have in the past often tipped their hand about what they're up to?

    I mean, I could be wrong, but it's hard to read that application and not see it that way.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Stealth patent?

      On that basis, it could as well be a folding phone. In fact, it's probably more likely to be talking about that because the phone mostly has input devices on the outside (touchscreen, cameras). Smart glasses, while they may also have cameras, will need a lot more effort put into the output devices (screen that is easily seen by the wearer without distracting from the environment, same for audio because most glasses don't go over the best areas for bone conduction). I'm not sure how much you can outright lie about what your product is before a patent doesn't apply to it, but as none of these three concepts is patent-worthy anyway (the Pi 400, many Android folding phones, and Google Glass respectively as prior art), it probably doesn't matter that much to them.

      I like the way you think, though.

  44. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Will it stick to the wall

    Lots of patent applications are put in just to see if they will be granted. In the US, the price to challenge or defend a patent starts at around $300,000 and may have gone up without me noticing. If a company such as Apple goes after you for a patent infringement for something you've created, their patent might be laughably undeserved but you probably won't have the money to defend yourself and just have to abandon your project.

    When Elon Musk donated a bunch of Tesla patents to the public domain, I had a look at some of them. Junk. Every one I looked at was so outrageously preceded that I was amazed that the patent examiners passed on them. I think the company realized this too and used them as a big PR piece. Contrary to what some fans thing, Tesla did not open-source all of their patents and has been filing applications for new inventions that they are going to keep under their control. For an automotive oriented patent, the likely opposition would be from another large auto maker that has their own legal team and disputes would be very expensive. At least in the US, you can't pick and choose which infringers you go after. If you go after several small companies and ignore a big one that would be tough/expensive to pursue, the courts will nullify the patent.

    I wonder why Apple would spend the money on this patent. Computers are stuffed into so many things these days that yet another form factor isn't unique enough to deserve a patent.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Will it stick to the wall

      "I wonder why Apple would spend the money on this patent. Computers are stuffed into so many things these days that yet another form factor isn't unique enough to deserve a patent."

      I wonder if this was meant to be a Design Patent from the coloured pencil department that accidentally got sent to the wrong department and some legal eagle tried to bastardise it into a proper patent while muttering about "bloody stupid engineers"?

  45. Aussie Doc
    Coat

    What?

    So, how does this work in the real world? Were the original 'innovations' not patented so now Apple takes out a patent and can now sue retrospectively?

    Never understood how this stuff works.

    Certainly, both my Amiga 500 and 1200 beg to differ that Apple is being innovative. Not sure if I still have my C64.

    My coat has a dust rag in the pocket ---->

  46. arober11

    The wheel was granted a patent in 2001, so why not

    A patent for the wheel, sorry a "circular transportation device", was granted, to Australian, John Keogh, in May 2001, so why not file an application for a: 1977, Apple II, 1980, Commodore Vic-20, 1980, Sinclair ZX-80, ... in 2022. If you don't ask you don't get.

    FYI: John's patent was later invalidated, as apparently some prior art was discovered.

  47. JohnLH

    Well if you look at the actual document's claims they take the usual US approach of throwing in the kitchen sink into the application in the expectation that they will be whittled down to the actual innovative meat by the examiner. The actual claimed innovation is probably to do with design for cooling and appears from claim 13 onwards. Even then it looks pretty obvious.

  48. that one in the corner Bronze badge

    Slap on some wooden side panels

    that will be novel and patentable.

    Ooh, look, a SOL-20. Gotta live a compact S100 bus.

  49. John Savard

    Other Examples

    Everybody talks about the Commodore 64!

    But what about the Exidy Sorcerer - which may have been the first computer inside a keyboard?

    Or the "Zero-Footprint PC" from Cybernet that put a real computer - from an MMX 233 in their earliest model in 1999 to a Pentium 4 in their last model in 2007 - inside a keyboard?

  50. TheRealRoland
    Happy

    Nobody mentioning the Philips P2000?

    Sigh.

  51. Arthur Daily

    Prior Art

    Toshiba Libretto (My bet is Japan has plenty of prior art).

    IBM Dauphin, original TRS80's mentioned.

    Hitachi Peach and something from Rockwell USA and I consider Nokia phones with the sliding keyboard to be a computer, as you could also program it. Before that IT programmable calculators. Many had IR ports to 'communicate' as well.

    As for Keyboards, the 1970 ones from ICL were 3 inches thick, 1mm pressed steel, as were NCR ones, that featured their own 24*80 terminal controllers with computers that optimally compressed packets for ATS and CICS transactions. (Remember those 300 baud handset modems).

    Going back further, the German Enigma machine, and The British/Polish equivalent - some packed lighting indicators.

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