Apple Electronics: Contained in the Beatles’ eccentric know-how subsidiary

Say the phrase Apple right now and we consider Steve Jobs’ multi-billion-dollar know-how firm that spawned the iPhone and the Mac pc.

However a decade earlier than the California-based agency was even based, the Beatles-owned firm Apple Electronics was engaged on a number of pioneering innovations ‚Äď a few of which have been precursors to generally out there merchandise available on the market right now.¬†

Apple Electronics was led by Alexis Mardas, a younger electronics engineer and inventor initially from Athens in Greece, recognized to the Beatles as Magic Alex. 

He died on at the present time in 2017, aged 74, and was one of the vital vibrant and mysterious characters within the Beatles’ story.¬†¬†

Wearing a white lab coat in his London workshop, Mardas created prototypes of innovations that have been set to be marketed and bought.

These included the ‘composing typewriter’ ‚Äď powered by an early instance of sound recognition ‚Äď and a telephone with superior reminiscence capability.¬†

Additionally in growth was a robotic assistant, about two toes tall, that may have scooted across the dwelling on a observe performing errands. 

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Alexis Mardas in his small workshop in Boston Place in¬†Marylebone, central London. He was described by John Lennon as his ‘guru’

He additionally created a small digital digicam for £50 that may very well be plugged instantly right into a TV display screen to show photographs, and an automated gentle dimmer to be used in cinemas and theatres. 

‘It have to be remembered that none of those had even been considered by others on the time, though most of them are actually in widespread use,’ Mardas mentioned in an announcement revealed by the New York Occasions in 2010.¬†¬†

‘For instance, an digital digicam is now generally used, as is the “reminiscence telephone'” and what was then known as “the composing typewriter” and is now often known as voice recognition.¬†

‘All these merchandise have been invented by me and we have been within the technique of patenting most of them in the USA.’¬†¬†

The Beatles reportedly meant to donate all of the income comprised of the innovations to assist the world’s handicapped and underprivileged folks. 

Alex Mardas (Magic Alex), head of the electronics division of The Beatles' Apple business venture, pictured in 1968

Alex Mardas (Magic Alex), head of the electronics division of The Beatles’ Apple enterprise enterprise, pictured in 1968

John Lennon was initially very taken with Mardas after assembly him by John Dunbar, proprietor of the stylish London Indica artwork gallery. 

Lennon launched¬†Mardas to the opposite members of the Beatles as his ‘guru’, and he joined the electronics division of their bold new document firm in February 1968.¬†¬†

Apple's logo still adorns Beatles products released today

Apple’s brand nonetheless adorns Beatles merchandise launched right now

Mardas was given his personal workshop ‚Äď in Boston Place in Marylebone, London ‚Äď to develop the gadgets to be patented and bought by Apple.¬†

By that November, the Beatles had spent £100,000 equipping the small laboratory, which might have value £20,000 a 12 months to run. 

At the moment, the innovations have been going by a global patenting course of with the purpose of promoting and promoting them in outlets world wide; a number of Apple Electronics concepts are nonetheless listed on Google Patents right now. 

However by the summer time of 1969, Apple Corps was haemorrhaging cash at an alarming price and Apple Electronics was swiftly closed down by the band’s new supervisor, American businessman Allen Klein.¬†

Because of this, Mardas’ innovations at Apple Electronics ‚Äď a lot of which have been demonstrated to a Day by day Mail reporter in 1968 ‚Äď by no means progressed previous the prototype stage.¬†

Madras later returned to Greece and handed away in 2017, however his memorable concepts now epitomise the joy of the late Nineteen Sixties. 

The ‘reminiscence telephone’

Mardas appearing in a short promo video for Apple Electronics. The subsidiary had plans to patent devices, sell them in shops around the world and use the profits for social good

Mardas showing in a brief promo video for Apple Electronics. The subsidiary had plans to patent gadgets, promote them in outlets world wide and use the income for social good

Similar to right now’s good audio system comparable to Amazon Echo and Google Dwelling, the reminiscence telephone was voice-activated and by no means required a single handset to be lifted to make a name.¬†

It might keep in mind as much as 100,000 telephone numbers and ring any of them up when requested, and, if the particular person known as took their time to reply the telephone, it performed music or gave the caller the most recent Inventory Alternate figures.

The reminiscence telephone was allegedly capable of determine who was calling and¬†reply to its proprietor’s voice.¬†¬†

Alex had saved a prototype of the reminiscence telephone in his workplace, utilizing a number of of its nifty options which can be evocative of right now’s private assistants.¬†¬†

Mardas informed the Day by day Mail in 1968: ‘It rings me up each morning from the workplace by itself.¬†

‘I inform it at night time to ring me at a sure time and the place I’ve to go ‚Äď the following morning at dwelling the telephone rings me from the empty workplace and tells me to stand up and the place my first appointment is.’

The Bell Phone Company of America provided Apple Electronics 1 million {dollars} (£416,000 on the time) for the system, in keeping with Mardas.

Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon and George Harrison are pictured with others watching Pattie Harrison modelling at the Revolution club in Mayfair. Between Lennon and Harrison is Mardas

Cynthia Lennon, John Lennon and George Harrison are pictured with others watching Pattie Harrison modelling on the Revolution membership in Mayfair. Between Lennon and Harrison is Mardas

Color-changing paint 

Beatles guitarist George Harrison fondly remembered this invention, which had the potential of adjusting the color of steel onto which it was painted. 

The paint, which was initially clean and seemed like a thick enamel, lined a skinny piece of steel with two wires popping out of it.

When it was linked to an influence supply, it lit up a brilliant, luminous inexperienced, in keeping with Harrison, who needed to coat his Ferrari in it so it could gentle up at any time when he pressed down on the brake pedal. 

‘We requested, “Are you able to do different colors too?” ‚Äď “Positive, no matter you need”,’¬†Harrison remembered in an interview within the Nineteen Nineties for The Beatles Anthology ebook.¬†

‘The again of the automobile can be purple, however solely once you stepped on the brake.

‘The remainder of the time the entire automobile can be linked to the revs on the gearbox ‚Äď so the automobile would begin off fairly boring and as you shifted by the gears it could grow to be brighter.¬†

‘You may go down the A3 and cross someone and it could appear to be a flying saucer.’¬†¬†

George Harrison had plans to use Mardas' colour-changing paint on his yellow Ferrari (pictured) while driving down the motorway

George Harrison had plans to make use of¬†Mardas’ colour-changing paint on his¬†yellow Ferrari (pictured) whereas driving down the motorway

The document jammer

The document jammer, which took six days and £10 to supply, was capable of stop any vinyl document being recorded onto tape.

Apple Corps had labored out that for every vinyl document bought, as many as eight folks taped pirate copies at no cost.  

Mardas reportedly developed the system to transmit a high-frequency sign onto a vinyl document when it was being minimize. 

This might imply that when anybody purchased the document and tried to repeat it, all they might hear on the tape was a bizarre grinding noise. 

The document jammer was set to be given free to 200 world corporations the place vinyl information have been manufactured.

Apple Electronics would have charged a small royalty for each document performed utilizing the jammer ‚Äď estimated to have been greater than 100 million information a 12 months.¬†¬†

'Magic Alex' in his studio. Alexcompany, Apple Corps

‘Magic Alex’ in his studio in Boston Place, London. Alex was the Beatles’ private inventor and head of the electronics division of the corporate, Apple Corps

The new-cold plate 

The new-cold plate had began as a technique to cool transistors however developed into what would have been a revolutionary system for the house kitchen.

It consisted of plate, round one-sixteenth-of-an-inch thick, powered by the mains or a battery. 

It was capable of abruptly warmth itself to 250 levels Celsius in 20 seconds and funky to twenty-eight levels beneath zero in one other 20 seconds ‚Äď successfully meant to be a two-in-one system for storing or serving meals often served at completely different temperatures.¬†¬†

The Day by day Mail’s Denis Holmes examined the invention in a tour of the lab in 1968, calling it ‘so refined that it’ll open a brand new period in kitchen cookers, refrigeration and air-con’.¬†

Watch this historic Apple Electronics promo 

Holmes mentioned: ‘I put my hand on the plate and Alex pressed a change ‚Äď I counted 5 and needed to snatch my hand away.¬†

‘I put my hand again, the change was pressed in the other way and my hand began to stay to the ice-cold steel.’

Mardas mentioned that some firms had provided to purchase the system to verify it by no means noticed the sunshine of day.

He informed Holmes: ‘Provides are pouring in from corporations who wish to purchase it and drop it within the river with our promise by no means to make one once more, as a result of each cooker and fridge will probably be outdated in a single day.’¬†¬†

The composing typewriter

Mardas took two months and £400 to invent this automated machine, which seemed identical to an ordinary typewriter. 

However the prototype system, designed for folks within the music publishing business, featured an early instance of sound recognition. 

The silent automated typewriter would pay attention as somebody performed music on an instrument or sang to it. 

As she or he did so, the typewriter wrote out music and lyrics it heard prepared for the writer to take to print. 

Mardas and the Beatles have been at all times pretty tight-lipped on how such gadgets truly labored on the premise of secrecy. 

John Lennon mentioned in 1968: ‘We have learnt on this completely happy enterprise world that spies in brown raincoats and sun shades go round, and so you’ll be able to’t say something a few product till it is out.’¬†¬†

The robotic housewife 

An thought for a robotic housewife was in growth however by no means created ‚Äď described as a long-term challenge that wanted extra money and time.¬†

The subservient system was two toes tall and formed like two big tennis balls, one on high of the opposite. 

The higher sphere had¬†eyes, nostril and mouth ‘only for enjoyable’, whereas the decrease sphere may very well be affixed to a system of rubber tracks positioned across the dwelling.¬†

This might permit the robotic, which might have been bought for £50, to zip round the home, cleansing, sharpening and making tea.  

The Beatles at manager Brian Epstein's house on May 19, 1967 for the launch party of their eighth album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band founded Apple Corps the following year

The Beatles at supervisor Brian Epstein’s home on Might 19, 1967 for the launch get together of their eighth album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Membership Band. The band based Apple Corps the next 12 months

The ‘nothing field’ – an Apple Electronics invention?

Mardas is commonly mentioned to have given Lennon a ‘nothing field’ ‚Äď a small black field with eight lights in numerous colors that flashed in a random sequence.

Lennon, who saved it in the lounge of his six-bedroom home in Weybridge, Surrey, used it to enhance the results of an LSD journey ‚Äď particularly the flashing colors, which have been harking back to hallucinations.¬†¬†

‘Usually he would stare on the blinking nothing field Alex had introduced to him or on the partitions and shadows till the medication wore off,’ mentioned¬†Peter Brown, board member at Apple Corps, in his 1983 ebook The Love You Make.

Nevertheless, Mardas was not the system’s inventor. It was truly invented by US retail firm¬†Hammacher Schlemmer and launched to the market in time for Christmas 1962.¬†

Hammacher Schlemmer’s advert for the nothing field described the lights as blinking repeatedly ‘in no recognisable sample and for no obvious purpose for practically a 12 months’ till the battery ran dry.¬†

The novelty captured the flowery of the Beatles, who bought a whole bunch of them as presents, in keeping with the agency’s web site.¬†

The 'nothing box' as it appeared in an ad. Its eight lights flashed continuously 'in no recognisable pattern for nearly a year' until the battery ran dry. It's often described mistakenly as an Alexis Mardas invention

The ‘nothing field’ because it appeared in an advert. Its eight lights flashed repeatedly ‘in no recognisable sample for practically a 12 months’ till the battery ran dry. It is typically described mistakenly as an Alexis Mardas invention¬†

Different ideas that have been attributed to Magic Alex he later denied he had ever tried to invent, together with an X-ray digicam that might see by partitions and paint that may make objects invisible.

One other alleged thought was to construct a drive discipline round Ringo Starr’s drums that may have remoted drum sounds from the remainder of the microphones within the studio.¬†

Mardas mentioned in his 2010 assertion: ‘I as soon as had a dialogue with John Lennon about this subject. I mentioned that it was doable, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers.¬†

‘This might stop sound travelling over a sure discipline [but] I by no means prompt I’d make such a barrier.’¬†

Paul McCartney additionally remembered an thought Magic Alex had ‚Äď utilizing wallpaper that may act as loudspeakers ‚Äď that by no means materialised.¬†

Regardless of his efforts, Magic Alex was allegedly paid solely a traditional wage.

He mentioned in 1968: ‚ÄėFirms in America and Japan are providing me astronomical salaries to affix them.¬†Right here I simply take a number of kilos per week.’

Mardras left Apple Corps shortly after being tasked to equipment out the Beatles’ new recording studio in Savile Row ‚Äď a job that he was by no means capable of full, he later claimed.¬†¬†

‘I used to be designing and had truly completed a mock-up studio in Boston Place which, when prepared, can be moved into the Savile Row premises [but] this was destroyed and the gear taken away,’ he mentioned in 2010.

As for Apple Corps, the corporate had a well-known ongoing authorized battle over rights to the title ‘Apple’ from 1978, which lastly reached a settlement in 2007.¬†

Apple Corps nonetheless exists and oversees the Beatles’ empire, however its fascinating subsidiaries ‚Äď which additionally included Apple Retail and Apple Movies ‚Äď are actually sadly now not operational.¬†¬†


Apple Corps was based by the Beatles in 1968. Its fundamental function was to behave as a document label, beneath its chief division Apple Data, however different bold subsidiaries have been Apple Movies, Apple Electronics and the Apple Boutique, a retail retailer at 94 Baker Road in London.

In the meantime, People Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne based Apple Computer systems in April 1976 and began promoting the Apple II pc the next 12 months.

In 1978, the Beatles’ firm Apple Corps filed a lawsuit in opposition to Apple Laptop for trademark infringement.

This was settled three years later in 1981 for $80,000.

The settlement the 2 firms settled upon was that Apple Laptop would by no means enter into the music enterprise and in return Apple Corps would by no means enter into the pc enterprise.

In 1991, Apple Corps sued Apple Laptop once more, alleging that by including sound to its computer systems, the pc firm was in violation of the 1981 settlement.

This time Apple Laptop paid $26.5 million and agreed that though it might be concerned in digital music, it could not package deal, promote or distribute any bodily music supplies, comparable to CDs.

The climax of this dispute got here after Apple unveiled iTunes in September 2003 and Apple Corps as soon as once more sued Apple Laptop for breach of contract. 

Apple Corps alleged the web iTunes music retailer violated the contractual settlement that the 2 firms had the place Apple Laptop wouldn’t enter into the music enterprise.

The primary query that the court docket needed to resolve was whether or not Apple’s iTunes on-line music retailer distributed bodily copies of music, comparable to CDs.

This case was heard within the Excessive Courtroom of London in 2006 in entrance of single choose, who finally dominated in favour of Apple Laptop.

iTunes’ distribution format was strictly digital, which means it bought music that may very well be performed on digital gadgets comparable to private computer systems and iPods.

Lastly, in February 2007, Apple Inc (because it had been rechristened the earlier month) and Apple Corps reached a settlement of their trademark dispute.

Beneath this settlement, Apple Inc owns all logos associated to ‚ÄėApple‚Äô and licenses sure logos again to Apple Corps for its continued use.¬†¬†¬†

Apple Corps continues to be operational, however the American firm successfully clawed the title ‘Apple’ from the London agency over the course of the authorized battle.¬†

Apple Corps continues to be operational and oversees the Beatles’ enterprise, nonetheless.

In accordance with the Mirror, firm accounts filed to Apple Data Restricted for the 12 months till January 2019 present that the Beatles made £50,244,899 over a 12 months. 


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