Apple Wiki
Apple Wiki

The Apple Interactive Television Box or ITV,[1] also internally identified as STB (set-top box), is a television set-top console that had been in development by Apple Computer before the launch of the Pippin platform.[2] Some third party sources have also called this the "Pippen",[3][4] though no Apple documentation refers to it as such.[1]


The ITV was based on an Apple Macintosh LC 475 running a customized version of Macintosh System 7.1.1 with support for MPEG-1 playback through QuickTime software and a C-Cube CL450-P160 decoder.[1][5] It included processors from Brooktree, Motorola, Philips, Texas Instruments, VLSI Technology and Xilinx.[6][7]


  • STB1: Early prototype designed by Apple in 1993 and assembled in Austin, Texas for internal technology trials. The generic case contains a modified 25MHz Macintosh LC 475 logic board connected to an audio/video board (part number AP2336-02) with SCART, and RF ports.[8] The RJ45 port supported the G.703 standard for T1 and E1 networks. 100 units were produced for British Telecom.[9]
  • STB2: Interim prototype which did not go into mass production.[2][9]
  • STB3: Near-final design assembled in Ireland and assigned FCC ID: BCGM4120 for market trials in the United States. Some specimens included SCART connectors for consumer testing in Europe.[10] v6.B and v7.0 ROMs were used.[11] One specimen appeared to support a faster 33MHz 68LC040 processor.[12] Unneeded components, such as the floppy disk controller,[13] were eliminated to streamline cost. 2,800 units were produced for British Telecom.[9] Apple also bid to provide units to Bell Atlantic.[14]



Mac84- An Early Apple Set Top Box Prototype from 1993! -The original Apple TV STB-

After internal testing at Apple in 1993,[6][8] British Telecom conducted a technology trial of model STB1 in March 1994 with 60 employees in the Suffolk town of Kesgrave.[9] Testing in Europe was carried out in partnership with Belgacom, British Telecom (BT), and Telia Company.[15][16] Market trials with model STB3 began in Farsta, Sweden in May 1995 and expanded to 2,500 households near London in the following autumn.[17]

BT Voyager 2000 Interactive TV System screenshot

Screenshot of BT's interactive services menu.

The UK version of model STB3 was branded by BT as the Voyager 2000 Interactive TV System and was deployed in Colchester and Ipswich.[18][19] The year-long trial included 8 schools and 4 public access points. Services included on-demand television, educational content, games, online shopping and banking.[20] The user interface and video animation were designed by Dot New Media.[21]

Apple and Bell Atlantic conducted trials in six states in the United States.[10][22] Network functionality was provided by Oracle Media Net, which would download a "stack", a multimedia runtime application that was authored with Oracle Media Objects.[9] Interactive educational programming was provided by The Lightspan Partnership.[17] For units tested in the Washington, D.C. area, MPEG-1 content was streamed at 1.5 Mbps over an asymmetric digital subscriber line, a technology that was being developed by Bell Atlantic subsidiary Bellcore.[23][24] Bell Atlantic ran their service trial on four nCube servers, which could each store up to 10,000 feature-length films.[25]



Macworld Expo-SF 1996 Report

(skip to 2m30s for ITV)

Apple unveiled the set-top box at the multimedia pavilion of the NAB Show at Las Vegas in April 1995.[14] At the NCTA Cable Show in May 1995, Apple outlined its milestones for market trials of its interactive television technology.[17]

At Macworld Expo San Francisco in January 1996, Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki showed off a Pippin Power Player prototype running alongside an ITV model STB3 at Apple Computer's exhibit.[26]

We believe ITV has the potential to be the low-cost portal to the information superhighway.[17]
— Rick Shriner
Vice President, Apple Core Technologies


Though support for MPEG-2 and Super Nintendo games were being considered,[9][27][28] further development was cancelled after the ITV was deemed not to be commercially viable.[6]

BT GameCart[]

The rare British Telecom GameCart has a Mini-DIN-8 serial port that would allow content to be downloaded from a Voyager 2000 Interactive TV System (BT's version of the ITV) to a Super NES console. Games available for digital download during British Telecom's Ipswich test included Super Mario All Stars and F-Zero.[29]

Aftermarket usage[]

Apple ITV startupscreen

Apple startup screen from an STB3.

With interactive services no longer available, default installations of ITVs are no longer fully functional.[30] Set-top boxes containing a red flash ROM SIMM are capable of booting Mac OS 7.6 to 8.1, but then video is not displayed due to lack of compatible video drivers. File sharing can be enabled and the set-top box will identify itself as a Macintosh 470 Series, Machine ID: 89.[31]




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Apple Interactive Television Box, Apple Computer. 1995. Archived 2013-06-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Apple Set Top Box by AnubisTTP, Industrial Alchemy. 2006-10-28.
  3. This is the original Apple TV, from 1996 by Matthew Panzarino, The Next Web. 2011-09-15.
  4. Apple Pippen: the Apple TV Precursor, NOT the Game Console by Adrian Covert, Gizmodo. 2011-09-16.
  5. Apple Interactive Television (DSPs) by Jim Abeles, Flickr. 2008-04-25.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Apple TV Prototype Sells on eBay for 46 Bucks by Brian X. Chen, Wired. 2010-05-05.
  7. Apple Interactive Television (CPU) by Jim Abeles, Flickr. 2008-04-25.
  8. 8.0 8.1 An Early Apple Set Top Box Prototype from 1993! by Mac84, YouTube. 2018-06-08.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 BT Interactive TV Trials, p.117-137 by B. Whyte, BT: Telecommunications Series: Multimedia Telecommunications. 1997.
  10. 10.0 10.1 1995 Apple Interactive Television Box by Kevin Rye, Apple to the Core. 2012-04-12.
  11. Apple Interactive Television Prototype ROMs by Jim Abeles, Flickr. 2008-04-30.
  12. Prototype Apple TV predecessor from 1995 sells for $46 on eBay by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider. 2010-05-05.
  13. One chip I notice is conspicuously missing is any type of IWM. by Keith Kaisershot, Twitter. 2018-12-04.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Apple pushing into interactive TV market. by Mark Berniker, Broadcasting & Cable. 1995-04-17.
  15. Le précurseur de l’Apple TV : Apple Interactive Television Box by Pierre Dandumont, Le Journal du Lapin. 2011-09-18.
  16. Apple Interactive Television Box (Japanese, Shift JIS) by Danbo, MACお宝鑑定団. Accessed 2018-12-28.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Press Release: Apple Computer Announces Latest Interactive TV Milestones at NCTA, Apple. 1995-05-08. Archived 2000-09-16.
  18. Apple Set Top Box by Mark Johnson, Flickr. 2007-04-04.
  19. BT Ipswich Trial, p.33 by John Laycock, DEC User. 1995-01.
  20. BT Voyager 2000 interactive TV system, 1995, Science Museum Group. 2014.
  21. BT iTV Trials, Dot New Media. Archived 2002-12-05.
  22. This is Apple’s original AppleTV, from circa 1996. by RandallB, Tumblr. 2011-09-15.
  23. Oracle and Bell Atlantic Plan a New TV Service by John Markoff, The New York Times. 1994-01-10.
  24. Oracle Hopes to Steal A March on Microsoft by John Markoff, The New York Times. 1994-02-15.
  25. Oracle, p.121 by S. Shiva Ramu, Cyberspace & Repositioning Of Corporations. 1999.
  26. Macworld Expo/SF 1996 Report by Koya Matsuo, YouTube. 2016-05-10.
  27. Any idea what this is? by Cameron James, Assembler Games. 2016-07-09.
  28. BT joins forces with Nintendo, Telecompaper. 1995-06-28.
  29. BT's Long Lost Super Nintendo ‘Interactive TV’ Service Trial Cartridge Discovered by Cauterize, RetroCollect. 2016-07-13.
  30. The Low Down on the "Mysterious Mac Thing" Part 2 by Doug B. Landry, The PowerBook Zone. 1998. Archived 2001-02-09.
  31. Apple Set Top Box (Revisited) by MrMacintosh09, Apple Fritter. 2006-08-21.

See also[]

  • Apple MPEG Media System (1995), adds the MPEG-1 chipset from the ITV to some Macs.
  • Apple TV Tuner Card (1994), adds television tuning capabilities to some Macs.
  • Apple TV (2007-present), Apple's current digital media player and microconsole.
  • Mac mini (2005-present), Apple's small desktop computer which added HDMI output in 2010.
  • Macintosh TV (1993-1994), Apple's first attempt to integrate a computer and television.
  • Pioneer MPC-LX200-TV (1996-1997), the only Macintosh clone with television capabilities.
  • Pippin prototypes (1995-1997), developmental consoles for the Pippin platform.

External links[]