Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Feb 2006 20:43 UTC
Apple LowEndMac has an in-depth article on the origins of one of Apple's most elusive products: the Newton. "Sakoman's end goal for Newton was to create a tablet computer priced about the same as a desktop computer. It would be the size of a folded A4 sheet of paper and would have cursive handwriting recognition and a special user interface. To run the enormously demanding handwriting recognition software, the tablet would have three AT&T Hobbit processors." By the way, as most BeOS fans like myself know, AT&T's Hobbit processor has been part of another elusive product.
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I disagree. Apple killed the Newton, not Palm. The sales figures were quite strong for both the Newton MessagePad 2100 and the eMate when they were axed. For that brief point in time they were in fact outselling the WinCE devices and were holding their own against Palm (at least according to all the sales figures that were getting tossed around back then). Newton was also its own independent company that had been spun off from Apple; Apple went out of its way to reabsorb it and then kill it. At least two other companies tried to purchase the various Newton technologies, and Apple declined.

Why did Apple kill the Newton? Well, the conspiracy theorists of course always insisted that it was part of that 150 million dollar deal with Microsoft. I personally suspect that the two bigger factors were that the eMate was seen to be cutting into the Mac laptop line and that Steve really just didn't personally like the Newton, seeing it as being the brain child of the ones who ousted him from Apple not so long before.

The Newton had outstanding technology for its time; so good, that there still really is no true replacement for close to its price. I wrote a bit about this very fact on my blog ( ) but the fact that there's still an active user community (see details about the World Newton Conference at ) with lots of active development (read about the Einstein project or the Newton book project I'm personally working on ) should also help demonstrate that it has some good points going for it. Other would-be PDAs would do well to emulate some of its interface and features.

Part of what really still makes it stand out is that its interface was designed from the ground up to be used with a stylus. It's actually practical to use a Newton while commuting in a standing-room only train.

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HOA1 Member since:

I agree. Apple killed the Newton. I was was developing software on the Newton team at Apple when all this happended. I still have my Newton 130 and 2000. I still use it for taking notes because it beats writing on paper and not being able to perform text searches.
Apple was doing poorly financially, Sculley was turning the helm over to his second in command (Spindler) and some new multimedia hardware products were being developed (probably instead of the Newton.) The Newton marketing team was being dissolved and all of a sudden Andy Capp (the "vision" behind the Newton) left the company. That pretty much told the rest of us that the product was no longer of great interest. The Palm's introduction and early success was probably one of the factors, but not the major one.
Apple was floundering and didn't know what to do. It kept on "milking" the Mac technology for all it was worth but it wasn't worth much anymore. After a lot of management shifting I was let go from Apple and in the News I saw Apple slowly throwing their best product out the door. What a shame -- but then Apple was good at shooting itself in the foot 9 times out of 10 (Great technologies, but mediocre management, and some bad luck.)

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