The iPhone remains one of the most popular "cameras" on the planet, and Apple's smartphone has indeed conquered consumer photography, but it wasn't the company's first attempt to do so.
In the mid '90s, Apple was going through its "see what sticks" phase. You remember: It was around this time that mind-boggling products like the Apple Bandai Pippin were born, and many of these short-lived product lines were sent to slaughter the moment Steve Jobs returned to the company. One such product category was Apple's QuickTake digital cameras, and today they're something of a rarity.
Apple released a total of three QuickTake cameras, the 100, 150, and 200 models. The QuickTake 100, which debuted in 1994, could hold a total of eight photos at its maximum resolution, which was a paltry 640 x 480. It featured no way to preview or manage the photos already on the device unless you hooked it up to a Mac or Windows computer, and had a starting price of US$750.
As one of the first consumer-focused digital cameras, the QuickTake was a harbinger of the digital photography future, but it didn't fare very well once longtime camera makers entered the digital battle. The QuickTake 150 and 200 didn't perform much better, and by the time Jobs culled the brand in 1997, any opportunity for Apple to impact the digital camera market had long since passed.
But today, collectors look at the QuickTake camera not as an embarrassing misstep, but as a desirable artifact from Apple's past, and as such they are sought after. On the rare occasion that a working QuickTake pops up on eBay, it's often priced at or above the cost of today's digital cameras, despite the huge gap in capability.
For example, the only QuickTake 200 currently available on the auction site is currently listed at US$119.95, which is enough to buy two decent point-and-shoots from a big box store. Of course, since the QuickTake 200 launched with a $600 price tag, maybe it's a deal after all?
[Photo credit: Don DeBold]