August 24th, 2009
CNet’s David Morgenstern looks at Apple’s past, kinda-funny present, and future prospects for some sort of netbook, starting with John Sculley’s Knowledge Navigator device and ending with our good friend the eMate:
The Web is awash with visions of a forthcoming Mac netbooks, or an iPhone with a keyboard, or simply a mobile Mac that’s less expensive than the current product line. All of these imaginings are as likely as one made by an Apple thinktank some 20 years ago and another by the Onion.
The Onion piece is the great MacBook Wheel, and the 20-year-old project is Sculley’s dream of a truly personal digital assistant.
Morgenstern took a similar look back when the One Laptop Per Child’s XO laptop was released a few years back:
One big difference between the eMate and the XO are their screens. The eMate had a small backlit LCD that offered 16 shades of gray and a 480×320-pixel resolution. The XO provides a full-color 7.5-inch LCD with 1,200×900 resolution. Remember that the XO supports a web browser and the eMate didn’t.
He goes on to say that the price different between a new eMate and a new XO are significant.
Seems the eMate is Apple’s evidence for thinking small, rugged, and affordable for whatever the situation – netbooks or third-world rescue efforts – calls for.
February 25th, 2009
John Sculley’s original idea, the Knowledge Navigator – a hyper PDA of sorts, with stellar artificial intelligence and a bit of personality.
The Newton could be said to be the realization of Sculley’s concept. Watch the video, and let me know what you think. You can also download Apple’s video from UNNA.
Seems like the iPhone and our always-networked Macs are bringing some of the ideas of the Knowledge Navigator to life, but we still have a long way to go in the AI department.
December 24th, 2008
“The Newton in 1998 looks remarkably unchanged from the Newton in 1993, with the exception that the handwriting now works and the screen is readable. Why wasn’t it miniaturized; cost reduced; why didn’t [Apple] learn from the great success of the Palm Pilot that simple tasks like data synchronization with our desktop PC are really useful; etc.?”
- John Sculley, former Apple CEO and Newton pioneer
July 23rd, 2008
How does the Newton MessagePad stack up against former Apple CEO John Sculley’s original Knowledge Navigator idea?
I’ve been doing some thinking, but in the meantime, check out this thorough post by Daniel over at Roughly Drafted on how the Newton came to be, how it failed to fully realize Sculley’s vision, and how Apple may, indeed, come up with the next big platform that could set all our devices free.
“The original intent of the Newton project was not to design a PDA, but to deliver a new tablet-based computer that would leap over the existing Mac user interface,” he says.
Everyone says how the Newton was a great idea, maybe ahead of its time, not really marketable, too darned big, and so on. It seems to me the Newton, along with the iPhone, iPod, and software like iChat, the idea behind an all-encompassing device that does everything from schedule meetings to video conference has already come to pass. The MessagePad may have just been the first match to light the fuse.
The Newton actually suffered from a number of fatal flaws; some of its issues relate to Apple’s new platform, which promises to solve many of the same issues that Newton was intended to cover. The main problem with the Newton was in its hardware execution: turning the concepts behind it into a product that could sell.
There have been shorter posts on why the Newton failed here before, but this in-depth article goes about and beyond any explanation I’ve ever read.
April 14th, 2008
Forbes.com has a list of the best Apple innovations ever. The Newton is where you land in the photo gallery, which then takes you to the obvious iPod and iPhone. The Forbes lists the MessagePad because:
What It Does: A commercial failure, this software put a computer with an elegant touch-screen interface in a user’s pocket.
Why It’s Great: Apple’s pocket computer failed first, setting Apple up for success with the iPhone.
Isn’t it funny how so many web sites are doing Apple-related lists? And most of them include Newton, for good or ill? And how much of life can really be put into “top ten such-and-such” lists before it loses some of its magic?
Soon, I’ll bet.
It’s like reading those magazine covers that brag “10 best ways to please your hubby” or “Five easy ways to flatter abs.” Are we so dumbed-down we need it broken up into list-sized chunks?
Speaking of which, I’ll have a “10 best things to do with your Newton” post coming up soon.