August 3, 1993: Newton Debuts

by Chris Seibold Aug 03, 2011

Apple was counting on the Newton to replace the Mac as the company's primary source of income. Then President John Sculley had thrown all his weight behind the project and the engineers who worked on the device read like a cast of Apple All-Stars.

The Newton was nothing if not interesting. The device featured stylus based input which allowed users to write notes which would then be (inaccurately) converted to text and sketch diagrams. The Newton didn't stop there, it also featured and infrared port for trading digital business cards and of course a scheduler. So much functionality in such a small device was unheard of and Apple would trade a Newton for a mere $700.

Not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past Apple had already licensed the Newton to other manufacturers, specifically Sharp. Armed with the Newton, licensing and an untapped waiting to be conquered the Newton was introduced (some argue prematurely) on August 3, 1993.


  • The PDA has had a problematic history.  The true PDA market (iPaq, Palm etc) seems to have dropped off significantly.  Are those awful Windows-based phones picking up the slack, or is everyone bored with stylus-based computing?  I have had a Palm and a couple of iterations of iPaq - but they have all had problems and now my iPaq sits on the desk as a (very problematic) GPS Navigation device for those times when I have to drive somewhere new.

    If there is life in the idea, Apple might resurrect the Apple PDA - the Neo Newton?  or iDate ?  hehe

    I always thought the Newtown was just too big…

    sydneystephen had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 124
  • I was fortunate enough to be working for TV Science and Tech show in the 90’s and we visited and filmed with the Newton group under strict NDA’s, we met those working on hand writing recognition and interviewed team members and finally received a copy of the Knowledge Navigator video. After the Apple people left us, we all looked at each other and said “Gee it’s ...Big” had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 1
  • He he. smile The Knowledge Navigator videos are stunning, aren’t they? They represent everything we think Apple is about, more, everything we think technology should be about. Very, very good stuff.
    While the Newton (in each of its iterations) was quite a bit too big to take everywere, it is perfectly sized to actually work on. All those iPaqs and Palms with their stampsized screens and sometimes fuzzy micro-icon sputtered GUIs… they make for good PIMs. But so does my Smartphone. To this day, only the Newton provides the level of screen real estate that is comfortable to actually work on. UMPCs might be getting there if they shed some weight and gain battery life. Or rather say “a lot” of both. Yet for some reason it seems impossible for GUI designers to swag a few Newtons off eBay in order to see how a good pen-based interface works.

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