The original Apple TV, the interactive television box

Even some old-schoolers might not know this, but Apple's more recent foray into the living room with the Apple TV wasn't the first time it has attempted that jump. You've probably heard of the home console Pippin, but Apple also spent part of the '90s working on an interactive television box, a very early predecessor to video-on-demand and what would eventually become the Apple TV. Every once in a while, a version will pop up on eBay, but it never actually went into production, so everything out there is just various prototypes still hanging around.

And here's another one: friend of TUAW Randall Bennett has posted a few pictures of Apple's Interactive Television Box spotted at Bell Atlantic, presumably from when they were working with Apple to set up the content delivery service. As you can see, it's a little more unwieldy than the little black box that Apple uses today, but that logo is unmissable. This one's named the "Pippen," apparently -- one letter off from Apple's game console -- and it has some neat Mac-like features, including the Finder: "When it boots, you see the Mac OS Finder on your TV and the inits start loading on the bottom of the screen."

The back of the device shows an S-video and serial hookup, as well as SCART connections for a TV and a VCR. It's a pretty wild device, but likely before its time in terms of the network infrastructure (not to mention the content marketplace) required to make it into production.