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TIL: Apple once built a Tetris-like game for the iPod 3rd generation, never released it

Apple iPod 3rd Generation prototype
Source: Apple Demo

Almost two decades ago, Apple was internally working on a Tetris-like game for the iPod 3rd generation. That's according to a rare prototype collector, Apple Demo, who got hold of an iPod 3rd generation prototype and found a game called 'Stacker' pre-installed on the device.

The game was never released to the general users, although Apple did bring games such as Solitaire and Brick to the iPod 3rd Generation down the line. There were other unreleased games on the prototype, including Block0, Chopper, and Klondike.

"Because we added games with later software release...," former Apple engineer Tony Fadell told the prototype collector when asked why the Stacker game was never released on the iPod 3rd Generation.

Nonetheless, Apple brought the original Tetris game to the 5th Generation iPod in 2006 with other titles, including Bejeweled, Pac-Man, Texas Hold’em, and more, through the iTunes Store.

A video published by Apple Demo shows the iPod prototype featuring a 'DVT 3' label at the back instead of the storage capacity. It is a shortened form of Design Validation Testing used to indicate that it was a mid-range prototype at "a stage when Apple engineers were perfecting the design of the iPod," Apple Demo said.

Furthermore, the serial number on the device reveals details such as it was manufactured in the fourteenth week of 2003, almost a month and a half before the official release. It carries the model number A1023, which Apple later used for its iSight Camera instead of an iPod model.

Apple iPod 3rd Generation prototype
Source: Apple Demo

The video also reveals that Apple preloaded two royalty-free songs to test the battery of the iPod prototype, which runs iPod software version 2.0d200. There are other differences from the regular iPod. For instance, the prototype houses a JTAG port. It has a custom serial cable possibly used to interface with the iPod and "looks to be handmade" by an Apple engineer.

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