February 27, 1998: Apple discontinues work on the Newton MessagePad product line, the series of personal digital assistants the company launched five years earlier.
“This decision is consistent with our strategy to focus all our software development resources on extending the Macintosh operating system,” Steve Jobs says at the time. “To realize our ambitious plans we must focus all of our efforts in one direction.”
October 4, 2011: With the unveiling of the new iPhone 4s, Apple introduces the world to Siri.
A groundbreaking example of AI in action, Siri’s debut fulfills a long-term dream at Apple. The company first predicted such a feature in the 1980s — with the Siri launch coming at almost the exact month Apple envisioned.
A few weeks ago, we posted the video above to show how Apple saw Siri and the iPad coming back in 1987. We didn’t tell the story behind the video though, which is equally fascinating.
Back in 1986, Apple CEO John Sculley had a conversation with Apple Fellow Alan Kay, the revolutionary American computer scientist who coined the phrase “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Kay pointed out to Sculley that almost all of Apple’s profits at the time came from the 512K Macintosh, Aldus PageMaker, Adobe’s Postscript and Apple’s LaserWriter 2.0 printer… all inventions that were lifted from Xerox PARC.
Then Kay said something chilling. “Next time, we won’t have Xerox.” Unless Apple started incubating its own great new ideas, the company would stagnate and wouldn’t have any new products down the road.
The result of Kay’s challenge to Sculley was this 1987 conceptual video of the Knowledge Navigator.