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Today in Apple history: Newton MessagePad inspires mobile revolution

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The Newton MessagePad looks gigantic next to an iPhone.
The Newton MessagePad looks gigantic next to an iPhone.
Photo: Blake Patterson/Wikipedia CC

August 2: Today in Apple history: Newton MessagePad launch inspires mobile revolution 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.

Today in Apple history: Apple shows off the Newton for the first time

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The Apple Newton. Failure, or precursor of the iPhone?
The world gets its first glimpse of the Newton MessagePad, a device ahead of its time.
Photo: Blake Patterson/Wikipedia CC

May 29: Today in Apple history 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.

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 target: less than $1,000.