A video and photos of an early iPhone prototype recently surfaced online. A Sonny Dickson uploaded them online and show us an iPhone prototype that has a click wheel touchscreen.
The Apple iPhone Prototype. The early prototype of Apple's iPhone provides us a glimpse of a version that never made it into production. The prototype's features are more or less similar with the first generation iPhone. It has an aluminum casing, multi-touch screen, and 2G connectivity and Wi-Fi.
One thing that is different with the prototype from the actual iPhone is its operating system. The OS is directly inspired by the Apple iPod's click wheel and called "Acorn OS". The bottom half of the Acorn OS's display has the classic click wheel interface while the upper half shows the menu. A bar which has the rewind, menu, play/pause, and forward buttons separate the halves.
Dickson said that "Instead of the modern touch-driven interface we now call the iOS, it featured an operating system dubbed "Acorn OS" (this was the internal code name and it is unclear if it would have kept that name if it was ever released), which is derived from the acorn shown on boot." Nothing else seems different with the prototype from the iPhone we know today except for the OS it runs.
You navigate through the menu by circling your finger around the click wheel just like how you would on an iPod. One only needed a firm press on the center of the click wheel to confirm an action when on a preferred menu item
Steve Jobs originally placed Tony Fadell and Scott Forstall in a competition to make the best mobile phone operating system for the iPhone. Fadell got the assignment to enlarge the iPod's current OS while Forstall focused on coming up with an OS based off the Mac's. Of course, Forstall won and the rest is iOS history.