Today in Apple history: Newton spins off as its own company

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Newton MessagePad 2000
Things were looking up for the Newton MessagePad. Until they weren't.
Photo: iFixit

May22May 22, 1997: Apple spins off its Newton division as its own company, to be led by former vice president of the Newton Systems Group Sandy Benett as Chief Operating Officer.

The new company’s goal is to market and sell the new MessagePad 2000 PDA, as well as develop new technologies and market existing ones. “We have a solid business plan and a strong management team in place to optimize the value of Newton technology for corporate users and take Newton technology into a new era,” Bennett says.

Instead, it turns out to be the beginning of the end…

Today in Apple history: The best Mac portable to date

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Powerbook 5000c-2
Do you remember the PowerBook 540c?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

May16May 16, 1994: Apple launches the PowerBook 540c, one of the best laptops in its history.

Part of the innovative 500 series of PowerBooks, the 540c is the laptop to own in 1994. Blisteringly fast, packed with innovative features, and offering the best notebook display on the market, it’s a triumph on every level. Although for $5,539 ($9,139 in today’s money), it had better be…

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs spells out a new strategy for Mac OS

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Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs introduced the world to OS X.
Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC

May11 May 11, 1998: As part of his mission to turn Apple around, Steve Jobs spells out the company’s Mac operating system strategy going forward.

The company will ship Mac OS 8.5 and the first customer release of an OS called Rhapsody that fall, he says at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. The big news, however, is that Apple is hard at work creating a major new operating system called OS X, scheduled to arrive the following year.

Today in Apple history: PowerBook G3 gets thinner, lighter and bronze-er

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Powerbook
Do you remember the PowerBook G3 Lombard?
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

May10 May 10, 1999: The third-generation PowerBook G3 comes in 20 percent slimmer and 2 pounds lighter than its predecessor, but most people remember the laptop for its “bronze” keyboard.

Although it doesn’t get a new name to distinguish it from previous laptops in the lineup, fans call it “Lombard” after Apple’s internal code name (or simply the “PowerBook G3 Bronze Keyboard”).

Today in Apple history: 1997’s ‘MacBook Air’ weighed 4.4 pounds

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pb2400
The PowerBook 2400c was Apple's ultra-thin laptop of its day.
Photo: Apple

May8May 8, 1997: Apple launches the PowerBook 2400c laptop, a 4.4 pound “subnotebook” that’s the MacBook Air of its day.

The PowerBook 2400c both predicts the future rise of speedy, lightweight notebooks, while also paying tribute to Apple’s past with a design that echoes the original PowerBook 100 in appearance. Even years later, it remains a cult favorite among many Mac users.

Today in Apple history: Apple’s first watch is a freebie for upgraders

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watch
Apple's first watch was... well, just a watch, actually.
Photo: Jonathan Morrison

May 2 May 2, 1995: Apple enters the wearables space with its first watch, a timepiece with no fitness-tracking tech, no on-screen notifications and a whole lot of 1990s styling.

The (real) first Apple watch comes two decades before wearables will become a thing. A regular wristwatch, the freebie gadget is available as a special mail-in offer to System 7.5 upgraders.

Today in Apple history: Beginning of the end for Mac OS Copland

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luke
Copland never saw the light of day.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

April 26 April 26, 1996: Apple’s eagerly anticipated, but much delayed, Copland operating system for Mac suffers a fatal blow when the senior VP in charge of the project leaves the company.

David C. Nagel, Apple’s chief technologist, previously promised Mac OS Copland would ship to users by mid-1996 at the latest. With that deadline no longer appearing accurate, he leaves Apple for a job running AT&T Laboratories.

It’s yet another sign that Apple’s top-to-bottom operating system upgrade is in major trouble.

Today in Apple history: Rumors fly that Canon might buy Apple

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moneyapple
Apple was up for sale in the 1990s.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

April 21 April 21, 1995: Rumors swirl that Canon (yes, the Japanese camera company!) might take over Apple in either a partial or complete acquisition.

Speculation grows about a possible deal after Apple reveals its latest earnings, which show big improvement but still fall far short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Today in Apple history: Newton boss departs as device struggles

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Apple_Newton_and_iPhone
The Newton MessagePad wasn't the immediate hit Apple had hoped for.
Photo: Blake Patterson/Wikipedia CC

April 19April 19, 1994: The executive in charge of Apple’s revolutionary new product line, the Newton MessagePad, parts ways with Apple.

“We can’t say whether he fell or was pushed,” says an Apple spokesman. Reports suggest that the departing Gaston Bastiaens, general manager of Apple’s Personal Interactive Electronics (PIE) division, is leaving due to his failure to make the Newton a financial success.