November 7, 1997: Apple releases the Newton MessagePad 2100, the last and best iteration of the company’s early line of handheld devices.
Among its improvements over previous generations, the MessagePad 2100 packs expanded memory, enhanced speed and upgraded communications software. Nevertheless, the Newton’s fate is sealed. Steve Jobs, freshly returned to Apple, will scrap the product line within months.
August 2, 1993: Apple debuts the MessagePad, the first product in its Newton line of handheld personal digital assistants.
The most unfairly maligned product in Apple history, the Newton is a revolutionary device. It predates Apple’s push toward app-based mobile devices 14 years later. Often dismissed as a failure, the Newton ranks near the top of the list of Apple’s most influential creations.
The Newton MessagePad is probably the single most underrated product in Apple’s entire history. Now, thanks to a new eBay auction, you can get your hands on one of the rarest Newtons ever created.
The clear, limited production prototype Newton MessagePad 110 was given out to a select few people at Apple’s 1994 developer conference. Apple only ever made a few hundred units. If you’re quick, you could own one. For a price, of course.
May 29, 1992: Apple demonstrates the Newton MessagePad for the first time, showing how the upcoming PDA can be used to order a pizza and pull off other time-saving tricks.
Hailed by Apple CEO John Sculley as “nothing less than a revolution,” the Newton is Apple’s first major new product since the Macintosh eight years earlier. During the Newton demo at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Apple shows how people can customize a pizza by moving topping icons on a symbolic pie, then fax the order straight from the device.
May 22, 1997: Apple spins off its Newton division. The new company’s first job? Selling the MessagePad 2000 PDA.
Newton Inc. also has a mandate to 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,” says Sandy Benett, former vice president of Apple’s Newton Systems Group and chief operating officer of the new venture.
Instead, it turns out to be the beginning of the end for the ahead-of-its-time Apple PDA.
April 19, 1994: The executive in charge of Apple’s revolutionary new product line, the Newton MessagePad, parts ways with the company.
“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 division, is leaving due to his failure to make the Newton a financial success.