Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs flip-flops on the Newton

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The Newton MessagePad 2000 brought many upgrades to Apple's doomed PDA line.
The Newton MessagePad went from hero to zero overnight.
Photo: iFixit

September 4: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs flip-flops on the Apple Newton PDA September 4, 1997: The writing is on the wall for Apple’s Newton product line as Steve Jobs tells executives at the newly spun-off company not to bother moving into their new offices.

It’s quite the turnaround for the Newton division. Only months earlier, it was being portrayed as large enough to become its own company.

Apple Newton fans need to be in Seattle on September 28

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Love Notes to Newton traces the history of a device ahead of its time.
Newton documentary will be accompanied by a Q&A from original MessagePad team.
Photo: Love Notes to Newton

Love Notes to Newton, a documentary about Apple’s ill-fated but influential Newton MessagePad, is getting a big screen showing. The documentary will be shown at the Living Computers Museum + Labs in Seattle, Washington on September 28.

It’s accompanied by a Q&A session with several members of the original Newton team who worked at Apple. If you’re an old-school Apple fan, this is a great opportunity to get the inside story.

Today in Apple history: Apple exec bets his wine cellar on Newton

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The Newton MessagePad looks gigantic next to an iPhone.
A daring bet means a very public deadline for the Newton MessagePad.
Photo: Blake Patterson/Wikipedia CC

March 25: Today in Apple history: Apple executive Gaston Bastiaens bets his wine cellar on Newton March 25, 1993: Apple executive Gaston Bastiaens bets a journalist that the eagerly anticipated Newton MessagePad will ship before summer ends. The prize? Bastiaens’ well-stocked personal wine cellar, worth thousands of dollars.

The bet takes place at the CeBit trade show in Hanover, Germany. Bastiaens’ outburst comes in response to a reporter’s needling. The gamble not only gives the Newton a release timetable, but also a price: under $1,000.

Meet the loyal Newton fans who keep the device alive and kicking

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Keeping the light on. A group of enthusiasts who keep their Apple Newtons aglow.
Keeping the light on. A group of enthusiasts who keep their Apple Newtons aglow.
Photo: Adam Tow

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugGrant Hutchinson has never owned an iPad. He does, however, own some 15-dozen Newton devices, a few of which he uses every day to help manage tasks, a schedule and software clients.

Why would Hutchinson cling to and even rely on a clunky obsolete digital message pad, an Apple failure so big it inspired f-bomb rage in Steve Jobs and a week’s worth of damning Doonesbury comic strips?

Hutchinson is just one of a few thousand people worldwide who collect and even use Apple’s first mobile computing device, discontinued in 1998 after a number of incarnations over a rocky five-year run.