Published in Notebooks

Press attempts to respin Apple’s greatest disaster

Spinning victory from defeat

On the anniversary of what is credited as one of Jobs’ Mob’s greatest disasters, there are moves in the Tame Apple press to tell us that the Apple Newton did not really suck at all. The Apple Newton is one of those toys which has gone down in history as being legendarily pants, along with Vista, the Kin, Zune, the HP TouchPad, and the Edsel.

On the anniversary of the release of the lemon, Wired is now trying to convince us that it was really a tablet and that it was ahead of its time. Firstly it was not a tablet, it was similar to other PDAs which were on the market at the time. It could take notes, store contacts, and manage calendars. You could use it to send a fax. Its main gimmick was that it could translate handwriting into text. It had the same ability to do this that Apple’s Siri has at finding an abortion clinic and Apple’s mapping gear to find an Apple store.

Apple had problems fitting all the parts into what it called a “dark, sleek and sculpted aesthetic” and the rest of the world called a small black tombstone. Wired blames Doonesbury for harming the Newton’s image. The comic ran a series on great Newton translating disasters. The reality was that this was one toy that Steve Jobs hated and he wanted it dead.

Jobs did not like it because of its poor performance and the fact it needed a stylus. Also he had nothing to do with the project which was invented by someone else. The moment he got the company back he killed the project stone dead. That should have been the end of it, but it seems Wired wants us to remember this turkey fondly.

It claims that if it had not been for the Newton, the ARM processor would not have taken off. It claims that many of the concepts that were in the Newton were adapted by modern tablets. That is, of course rubbish. The Newton was a souped up PDA of which there were loads of examples. Tablets were developed by Microsoft which failed to market them in the same way that Apple did later. Newton did not add anything to the technology pool.

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