From the New York Times’s original review of the Newton MessagePad:
The bottom line on the Newton Message Pad is that Apple promised too much and failed to deliver a useful device for everyday executive chores. On the other hand, the Message Pad practically hums with untapped potential, and six months (or moths) to a year from now it is likely to be a popular executive tool.
…When it was first described publicly more than a year ago by Apple’s chairman, John Sculley, the Newton was said to be a combination pen-based computer, personal organizer, fax and data communicator, and wireless messaging system.The Newton is indeed full of promise, but that’s not the same thing as fulfilling the promises.
I’m just trying to think of a situation where today’s Apple would release a product that had more “untapped potential” than actual usefulness.
The original iPhone, maybe? It didn’t have apps, cut/copy/paste, or any of the things we all take for granted now. But then we didn’t have to worry about faulty handwriting recognition. Today, it seems a new Apple product must have an immediate pick-up-and-use aura. Potential comes through iteration, sure, but you’re not left holding a device that inspires a yawn – or a question of its practical aspects.
The opposite argument is that apps didn’t come to the iPhone until a year after its launch, and then the whole world seemed to open up. With the Newton, it took until at least Newton OS 2.0 to get things in motion.
The kicker of Peter Lewis’s review comes at the end: “The possibilities are grand. For example, one can imagine cellular phone circuitry being shrunk to fit in the Message Pad’s credit-card-sized PCMCIA slot, or a Newton being shrunk to fit in a cellular phone.”
One can imagine, indeed.