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Personal Digital Assistant - Apple Newton MessagePad, 1993 Object Reg. No: HT 13352

Summary:
Newton MessagePad comprises a tablet with a pressure sensitive screen and stylus, plus a cover.

It is the world's first personal digital assistant (PDA). This first Newton MessagePad was known as Model OMP (Original Message Pad) and was introduced in 1993.

It was a personal organiser which supported handwriting, text and drawing. The various functions available included recording and viewing appointments and calendar notes, setting alarms and entering repeat events and keeping a ToDo list. Applications were called Notes, Names and Dates, and ran under the Newton operating system. The Newton had a removable memory card. It was in reality a hand held computer. It supported infra-red connection with other devices, including printers and other computers and other Newtons. Its key features were its fax and email capabilities, its personal organiser applications and its ability to recognise and interpret words hand written on its screen. An amazing capacity to 'parse' language was inside this tiny device.

Apple's innovation was to transform the handheld calculator by giving it a large pressure sensitive screen, a stylus (which replaces the mouse) and a simplified version of the Macintosh graphical interface, to invent a whole new computing concept - the personal digital assistant.

Unfortunately, the word-based handwriting recognition engine in the Newton gained more attention for what it couldn't do than what it could. Following the return of Steve Jobs in 1997 as Acting CEO, a restructuring of Apple took place. Apple was returned to its core business and part of this was the abandoning in 1998 of the Newton and the eMate (a keyboard based Newton derivative released to the education market).

Following the axing of the Newton from the Apple range, some ex-Apple employees founded Palm and produced a smaller hand held personal organiser, the commercially successful Palm Pilot.

Nick Miller (The Age, Insight 3, 14 April 2007) says: 'If ever an idea was before its time it was the Newton. Its handwriting, recognition, calendar and email software would be familiar to anyone with a modern PDA. But at the time it was pricy, a bit too big, a bit unreliable and just too bizarre'.

The donor used this Newton in a large business for the remote input of data.

This item is part of a representative collection of hardware, software, trade literature and promotional material that documents the history of the Apple company, and its contribution to, and impact on the computer industry and society.
Description:
Tablet
Cover
Manual
Video
Cable
Power adaptor
Statement Of Significance:
The Newton is the world's first personal digital assistant (PDA).
'If ever an idea was before its time it was the Newton. Its handwriting, recognition, calendar and email software would be familiar to anyone with a modern PDA. But at the time it was pricy, a bit too big, a bit unreliable and just too bizarre.' Nick Miller (The Age, Insight 3, 14 April 2007)
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Tim McLaughlan, 2006
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 25 mm (Height), 112 mm (Width), 182 mm (Length)
Dimension Comment: Dimensions of Tablet

More information

Tagged with: computers, computing, input devices, personal digital assistants pdas, portable computers, tablets, wireless data communications, writing instruments, making history - apple computer collection
Themes this item is part of: The significance of the Apple Newton badges, Internet Macintosh User Group (iMug) Collection, The Apple Computer Story - Apple Loses its Way 1991-1996, The Apple Computer Story - Portability 1977 onwards, Information & Communication Collection
Primary Classification: COMPUTING & CALCULATING
Secondary Classification: Digital Computing
Tertiary Classification: microcomputers
Inscriptions: The tablet has the Apple Logo inscribed and the word 'MessagePad'
Manufacturer: Apple Computer Inc, Cupertino, California, United States of America, 1993

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