WANT: Apple Newton
It’s 1993 and the business industry is going digital. New handheld devices made their way to the market from notable manufacturers like HP, Psion and Sony. A slew of names were given, from pocket to handheld computer, but nothing stuck. Not until Apple launched their Newton – that’s when the generation of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) really started.
The Newton was a decade in the making. The developers fought naysayers, software bugs and poor manufacturing to launch their innovative PDA. Its features include handwriting recognition, intelligent scheduling, contacts, notes and easy access to fax.
It could connect to any computer and printer, with its “Connection Kit” and “Print Pack”, and was one of the first handheld devices to recognize natural handwriting and use a basic form of artificial intelligence to pull together relevant information. When you wrote “Lunch with Lisa tomorrow” and tap the “Assist” icon, the Newton interpreted the phrase and opened a meeting form, filled out with the information for your contact named “Lisa” and tomorrow’s date.
Its launch was not very successful – their competitors, especially Palm, had already secured the market with comparable products. Though it has a loyal user base, it never succeeded the way it should have; the idea behind it was too far advanced for the technology available at the time.
That could be why the developers for the Newton went on to work for Apple and help create the first iPod… but that’s for another want-list.
Interested in the history of the Apple Newton? Here is a Gizmodo article detailing it rise and fall.