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This Week in Apple History
by Owen Linzmayer
& Bryan Chaffin

March 7-13: Newton Pioneers Prepare To Leave, MessagePad 2000 Ships, Bunnies, Columbus
March 8th, 2004

In many ways, the Newton represents everything that is both good and bad about Apple, especially the Apple of the Sculley era. It was a model of bringing a totally new paradigm to market, even though Apple failed to capitalize on that paradigm. More poignantly, this failure was largely due to mistakes at the top.

This week in Apple history, some of the brightest minds at Apple met with CEO John Sculley to ask that the Newton be further developed outside of Apple. Mr. Sculley, who felt a personal ownership of the project, was not keen on the idea, and those bright minds soon left.

Coincidentally, it was this week in 1997 that Apple shipped the second to the last Newton, the MessagePad 2000.

This week in 1998, "Columbus" first reared its head under that name. There was much misinformation in some of the mainstream reports on Columbus, which eventually turned out to be the original iMac.

That same week, Apple unveiled one of its most popular TV commercials in recent years, "Bunnies."

This week in Apple History:1955:

March 7-13

1989: Apple ships the Mac IIcx (US$5,400), a compact version of the successful Mac IIx with only three NuBus slots.

1990: Discouraged at the resignations of project leader Steve Sakoman and his protector Jean-Louis Gassée, the core of the Newton team (Bill Atkinson, Steve Capps, Marc Porat, Andy Hertzfeld, and Susan Kare) meet with CEO John Sculley to discuss forming a new company to develop the device independent from Apple. In July, many of these team members would leave to form General Magic.

1997: The MessagePad 2000 begins shipping. Apple referred to this particular Newton as a "handheld Internet computer," a departure from previous Newtons, which were billed as PDAs.

Apple CEO Gil Amelio gives a keynote address at InternetWorld, where he discusses publishing and content creation.

1998: Apple unveils the Apple Store for Education, the company's first online sales engine for education customers.

Steve Jobs presents keynote at Seybold.

Rumors of a secret set-top device at Apple first surface. News.com reports that the device is code named "Columbus," and that it will be a consumer set-top device. Reuters quickly publishes its own story saying the device would be announced at NAB. CNBC then reports that Columbus will be an education-oriented device that has a built-in 9" display. Columbus ended up being the original iMac, a new Mac with a built-in 15" display.

Ousted Apple exec Ellen Hancock lands at Exodus Communications.

Apple debuts "Bunnies," a very popular commercial in which an Intel "bunny" (dancers dressed in lab suits known as "bunny suits) is toasted by the G3 to the tune of "Burn, baby burn."

Apple hires Tim Cook from Compaq to be Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations.

2000: Future Power and its parent company, Daewoo, agree to stop selling the E-Power (US$799), which Apple alleged illegally copied the trade dress (industrial design) of the original iMac. Apple also announces a settlement against SOTEC, the maker of eMachine's attempt to sell an iMac knockoff.

2003: Apple CFO Fred Anderson publicly says at the Morgan Stanley Semiconductor & Systems Conference that R&D is the key to future growth at Apple. This is important in that Apple's competitors have ceased R&D investment in the pursuit of making Wintel PCs as cheap as possible, while many question Apple's path of keeping Mac prices high enough to support its R&D efforts.

is the author of Apple Confidential 2.0: The Definitive History of the World’s Most Colorful Company, published by No Starch Press earlier this year (US$13.97 - Amazon).

is the editor of The Mac Observer, and was egged on, in-part, in his obsession with the Mac by Owen's first book, The Mac Bathroom Reader.

You can send your comments directly to Owen and Bryan, or you can also post your comments below.

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