Remembering 1993 With Newton Commercials (QuickTime)!

by , 4:10 PM EDT, May 4th, 2001

The Newton was one of the most exciting technologies to come out of Apple during the reign of John Sculley. The Newton was a handheld computer that stemmed from a vision of Mr. Sculley's, then CEO of Apple, called the Knowledge Navigator. The Knowledge Navigator was actually more of tablet computer, but one of the products that came out of that project's R&D was the handheld Newton.

Unlike today's PDAs, a category of devices that the Newton itself gave birth too, the Newton was a true handheld computer. It did just about everything, including handwriting recognition at a time when Macs and PCs were running at 33 MHz, and while that made the Newton extraordinary, it also helped doom it to the dust bin of history. Its extraordinary features dictated a high price tag, especially for a new class of computing devices, and the fact that it didn't do everything perfectly upon release made it the butt of late-night jokes everywhere (Think The Tonight Show). The first Newton MessagePad released suffered from poor handwriting recognition, and though this was corrected, the Newton was never able to outlive that reputation.

By the time Apple had made the Newton just about perfect with the Newton 2000 and 2100, Steve Jobs had come back to the company and killed the product. This has widely been seen as having happened because the Newton was the brainchild of John Sculley, the man who stabbed Mr. Jobs in the back and fired him, even though Mr. Jobs had brought him to Apple in the first place. That's the popular mythology in any case. In reality, it is probably more a matter of Mr. Jobs thinking that the Newton was not Insanely Great Enough mixed with a bit of NIBS (Not Invented By Steve). Whatever the case, though Apple promised to replace the Newton with some other device "soon," we still are Apple handheld-less today. Hopefully the company is working on something along these lines, but Newton fans still number in the many thousands today.

Enter today's Remembering piece.

We received six old Newton TV commercials that Observer Jacob Fisher thinks weren't shown enough. Had they been shown more, he thinks we never would have heard of a li'l company called Palm. After watching the commercials, we are forced to agree. From Observer Jacob Fisher:

The first Newtons were introduced in August of 1993. The model shown in the ad is the original Newton MessagePad. This was replaced by the 100, 110, 120, and 130. Apple then introduced the 2000 and 2100, which in my opinion is the most useful computer Apple ever made.

Jacob Fisher

We are going to run two of these each Friday for the next three weeks. Today we bring you Gotham and Meeting.

Click the Thumbnail for the movie
(320 x 240 @ 4.2 MB)
Click the Thumbnail for the movie
(320 x 240 @ 4.1 MB)

Many thanks to Jacob Fisher!

If you have an old Apple ad for the Mac, the Apple ][ (or clones such as the Franklin), the Lisa, or any other Apple product, scan them in and send them to us, so that we can share them with other Mac fans. We are also looking for ads from the Mac cloners of the mid-90's such as Power Computing, Motorola, Umax, MacTell, Marathon Computer, PowerTools, and any others we have not mentioned. Feel free to make your scans quite large (high resolution) as we have had many Observers ask for printable versions. Check out our other Remembering articles too.

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