Apple Newton Announced

Apple Newton MessagePad

The Newton didn’t actually go on sale until August of 1993

May 29, 1992

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago, Apple Computer CEO John Sculley first announces the coming release of the Newton personal digital assistant to a group of reporters, explaining that the Newton “is nothing less than a revolution.” Although there was not a fully functioning prototype available, the Newton technology is demonstrated, including how to order a pizza by moving topping icons onto a pie and then faxing the order from the device.

The Newton is Apple’s first major new product line since the Macintosh was released eight years earlier. The Newton unveiling generates immediate buzz, but due to several factors, Sculley’s announcement will ultimately be considered a major mistake. The announcement itself tipped the company’s hand to its competitors and wildly inflated consumer expectations. The Newton’s release was delayed until August of 1993, and when it was released, it was not as user-friendly as expected. Specifically, the core hand-writing recognition feature was widely criticized as buggy and inaccurate. While the technology was greatly improved in subsequent revisions, the Newton never gained much commercial success, and shortly after his return Steve Jobs discontinued the Newton in 1998.

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