Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (2024)

by Juli Clover

Apple once designed a Tetris clone called "Stacker," with the game featured on a prototype version of the third-generation iPod. AppleDemoYT, known for sourcing rare prototype devices, shared images and a video of the unreleased iPod.

The iPod in question is a "DVT" device, which means it was a mid-stage prototype that was still in "Design Validation Testing." It has a model number of A1023, which is not a known model number of any version of an iPod Classic, and had custom serial interfacing designed by an Apple engineer.

Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (1)
The third-generation iPod was manufactured in week 14 of 2003 (over a month before the release of the third-generation iPod), and it was purchased from an electronics recycler in China that sold it as is for parts. The device was non-functional when it was purchased, but was able to boot when the hard drive flex cable was replaced.

Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (2)
The iPod runs a prototype version of iPodOS 2.0, and one of the games is "Stacker." Stacker works a lot like Tetris, where the Tetris pieces are moved from left to right using the scroll wheel. Pieces fall when the middle button is pressed, and the idea is to clear more lines at once to rack up points.

There are other games on the iPod, and all of them have placeholder non-release names, including Block0, Chopper, and Klondike. There's also a battery testing playlist on the device that has classical songs that play in a loop, suggesting Apple used this iPod to test the battery life of the third-generation iPod before it was released.

Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (3)
AppleDemoYT says that he asked "iPod godfather" Tony Fadell why the Stacker game was not released, and Fadell said that it was because games were added "with a later software release."

Apple did add several games to the iPod 3G over time, including Brick, Solitaire, Parachute, and Music Quiz. In 2006, Apple released games through the iTunes Store that people could purchase for later versions of the iPod, including an official version of Tetris.

Other games available through the iTunes Store included Bejeweled, Mini Golf, Mahjong, Zuma, Cubis 2, and Pac-Man, all of which pre-dated the App Store.

Tag: Prototypes

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Top Rated Comments

thejadedmonkey

6 weeks ago

I miss single function devices that had controls designed for their function, rather than a slab with touch-screen controls that change depending on what software version you're using.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

tonywalker23

6 weeks ago

When life was simpler, Apple was braver, and Aqua was beautiful.

Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

RodThePlod

6 weeks ago

I loved these early iPods. Back in 2006, I launched a website called Expodition.com, which allowed travelers to download details about their holiday destination to their iPod. (Those iPods were pretty neat and able to do a fair bit more than play music!)

They'd set up a profile first of things they liked - such as cuisine they enjoyed, whether they liked bars, or theatre, etc. etc. And the site would generate a snapshot of the area they were traveling to containing the things that might interest them on their visit!

That file could be transferred to their iPod, and viewed in the text editor on there.

Things were going great and I had a decent amount of users, until Apple released the iPhone the following year, with its built-in browser, etc. Ah well.... Good memories!

And Expodition is still visible on the Wayback machine!

https://web.archive.org/web/20060613094525/http://www.expodition.com/

Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (10)

Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

DocMultimedia

6 weeks ago

One of the more entertaining stories in a long time. Thanks!

Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

jicon

6 weeks ago


Oh, I wholly disagree in terms of a step backwards. The controls on this are entirely solid state — no clicking. 1st gen had 4 clickable buttons, and a moving scroll wheel. That is 5 potential points of failure. As the saying goes "fewer moving parts, fewer broken pieces."

I still have mine, and refurbished it a couple years back with a new HD and battery. Love the glowing buttons, too. Reminds me of the glow of a vintage stereo.

It wasn't exactly a cheap package... I think I had a 10GB version, but it came with a few extra things that soon disappeared in the next set of iPods.. A dock, a 'remote' that your headphones would link in to, and a nice solid belt clip case. Always admired the origami cube it came in.

Prototype iPod Features Apple-Designed Tetris Clone Called 'Stacker' (13)

Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

bpa1093

6 weeks ago

This iPod version was the coolest! I still want one today

Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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