One of the first products you could purchase online from Apple was a set of golf balls and tees. Not a golfer? Apple also offered a puzzle in a can, a paddle game, luggage tags, and even a onesie with the classic Mac OS Trash icon screen printed on the front. These forgotten items and nearly 100 more products came from the peculiar world of AppleDesigns.com, one of Apple’s earliest online shopping projects.
…even before the return of Steve Jobs, Apple was experimenting with retail online.
Apple called AppleDesigns “the Apple online department store.” The early website was featured on a full-page ad in MacWorld magazine and briefly listed on Apple’s website as a place to buy “Apple Softwear” and gifts for friends and family.
If you’ve spent enough time on Twitter or Reddit, you’re probably familiar with The Apple Collection, a catalog of vintage Apple apparel that the internet rediscovers every few years. According to long-time Mac user Hyram Hackenberger, AppleDesigns was the collection’s successor and final iteration.
Browsing AppleDesigns is a rush of pure 90s nostalgia. The site was a textbook example of early web design and was filled with bizarre but charming remnants of Apple history. Classic Mac expert John Siracusa tells me the look was inspired by themes from Appearance Manager, the Mac OS 8 and 9 personalization tool. Much of the site’s interface approximates Hi-Tech, a theme designed for the ill-fated Copland operating system.
The AppleDesigns archives end in 1998, shortly after the launch of the online Apple Store and the return of a more focused Apple under the direction of Steve Jobs. A more elegant lineup of Apple-branded gear remained exclusive to The Company Store at Infinite Loop for many years.