Apple Patent Outlines Mac In A Keyboard

Retro computing move. Patent from Apple imagines Magic keyboard with a built-in Mac, allowing user to just attach screen, mouse

Apple could be borrowing a retro idea for a new Mac computer device, that utilises the form factor of its Magic keyboard.

The new design concept was first discovered by Patently Apple, after the US Patent Office last week published a patent that Apple had applied for in August 2021.

The patent revealed that Apple is integrating a Mac computer into what looks like a Magic keyboard. This portable unit then be picked up and moved to a desk and plugged into a monitor and mouse at the home or office.

Fig 2- Apple patent

Old concept

This concept seems aimed at staff returning to the office or opting for hybrid working models, where staff need a device that can used at home, and then simply carried to the office and plugged into the corporate equipment there.

The idea of a combined keyboard and computer however actually harks back to the early days of personal computing in the home, with devices such as the Commodore 64, Sinclar Spectrum, or BBC micro.

All of those devices were a combination of a keyboard and computer, that needed to plugged into a screen and other peripherals.

So the Apple patent, while being reported as a completely new concept, is actually a fairly old one.

“A computing device can include an enclosure that defines an internal volume and an external surface,” says the patent. “An input component can be positioned at the external surface.”

“A processing unit and a memory can be communicatively coupled and disposed within the internal volume,” it ads. “A singular input/output port can be positioned at an orifice defined by the enclosure.”

Apple Patent

“The singular input/output port can be communicatively coupled to the processing unit and the memory,” the patent states. “The singular input/output port can be configured to receive data and power and configured to output data from the processing unit.

“The computing device can include an air-moving apparatus to move air along an airflow pathway,” it concluded. “The enclosure can include a thermally conductive base.”

Apple’s patent filing for the device can be found here.

Of course, the patent does not mean Apple has firm plans to actually develop, build and launch it.

And it does pose the question as to why a person would not just purchase a Macbook, which actually has a screen.