Rare See-Through Apple Newton Sells for $1,350

A rare version of an Apple Newton recently sold on Ebay for US$1,350. The see-through device appears to have been a promotional version of the Newton MessagePad 110 handed out at an Apple conference in the 1990s.

See-Through Newton

See-Through Newton
(Click the image for a larger version)

The Newton was the pet project of one-time Apple CEO John Sculley. It was the original hand-held computer and featured handwriting recognition and stylus-based input.

When the device first shipped, the handwriting recognition was highly unreliable. It was lampooned by late night talk-show hosts and viciously skewered in the popular Doonesbury cartoon strip. Although the feature was improved over time and led to the OS X's Inkwell feature (a subject for another time), the Newton never recovered from the reputation hit it took when it launched.


See-Through Newton Back
(Click the image for a larger version)

Though Apple worked up a major push with the Apple eMate and the Newton MessagePad 2100 in the mid-1990s, the product line was one of the first victims of Steve Jobs's efforts to pare Apple down to just a few profitable product lines.

That Newton was beloved of John Sculley probably sealed its fate when Apple bought Steve Jobs's company, NeXT, and brought him in to consult for then-CEO Gil Amelio. The Newton was quickly axed, though many of the devices survive in the hand of collectors today.

Enter this one. The Newtons that shipped featured dark gray cases like the one on the box this clear one shipped in.


Newton MessagePad 110 Box
(Click the image for a larger version)

Originally posted as a prototype, the seller on Ebay said that he received correspondence "from serious Apple collectors." Those people told him that it was more likely to be, "an extremely limited production model given to developers at an Apple conference."

He also said that those collectors gave him varying number for how many of these devices might have been made, from 150-1,200.

With Lid

See-Through Newton with the Lid Closed
(Click the image for a larger version)

[Via The L.A. Times]