Remember When: The NY Times on Apple’s First Tablet
Posted 01/26/2010 at 11:09am | by J.R. Bookwalter
On this day of pre-tablet anticipation, it’s interesting to look back and see what the press had to say about Apple’s first attempt at the form, the Newton Message Pad.
Longtime Apple fans will no doubt fondly remember Apple's Newton, a kind of precursor to the tablet rumored to make its debut tomorrow in San Francisco after months of speculation. The Newton had its roots as a Macintosh laptop in 1984 under Steve Jobs’ first tenure with the company, but after his forced departure in 1985 the project was scrapped.
The first chunk is particularly interesting in light of the iPhone’s debut in 2007: “The operating system is ‘communication enabled,’ which means, in theory, that all data can be faxed, e-mailed, beamed via infrared or sent to a desktop computer or printer. It is also ready for voice, video and other advanced technologies if or when they become available.
“The possibilities are grand,” the article continues. “For example, one can imagine cellular phone circuitry being shrunk to fit in the Message Pad's credit-card-sized PCMCIA slot, or a Newton being shrunk to fit in a cellular phone.” Who knew that it would take another 14 years to actually get to that point?
“The one-pound Message Pad, which is about the size of a slim video cassette, is unlike any other Apple computer, and indeed is unlike most personal computers,” the article describes. “It has a radically new operating system, a new microprocessor and a new mission: to become the first ‘anytime, anywhere’ pocket computer and communicator for business executives.”
Unfortunately, the review ultimately felt that Apple’s device was not ready for prime time: “The bottom line on the Newton Message Pad is that Apple promised too much and failed to deliver a useful device for everyday executive chores. On the other hand, the Message Pad practically hums with untapped potential, and six months (or moths) to a year from now it is likely to be a popular executive tool.”
Needless to say, that potential never got a chance to be truly tapped, so it will be interesting to see if the tablet reportedly being unveiled tomorrow at 10 am PST will finally break the Newton curse. Based on Apple’s success with the iPhone and iPod touch, we’d wager a bet that it just might.