Newton was Apple Computer's first attempt to create a mobile platform for the handheld market. A series of devices were released from 1993 to 1997 by Apple and third-party companies, all running various versions of Newton OS.
The Newton project was begun by Steve Sakoman around 1987 with the support of Apple executives Jean-Louis Gassée and John Sculley. However the scope of the project ballooned out of control with an A4-sized prototype, codenamed Figaro, which was expected to cost over US$6000 by 1992. Sakoman and Gassée left Apple to form Be, Inc. Sculley assigned Larry Tesler to salvage the project and Steve Capps was brought in after creating a working mockup in HyperCard. Three models were then planned: a larger 9 x 12 inch version codenamed Senior with a target price of $5000, a mid-sized 6 x 9 inch version with a target price of under $2000 that was quickly cancelled, and a small 4.5 x 7 inch version codenamed Junior with a target price of around $500 which would go on to become the MessagePad. Apple established a new Personal Interactive Electronics (PIE) division in 1992 to develop and market the devices.
Apple CEO John Sculley unveiled the first device, tentatively called the Newton NotePad, on May 29, 1992 during the keynote address of the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, Illinois. However, it was still beset by thousands of bugs when 4,000 prototype units went into production on May 26, 1993 for use at point-of-purchase displays at retail stores. The first MessagePad finally began shipping on August 3, 1993 at Macworld Expo Boston for the base price of US$699. However, there were accusations of price gouging as high as $897 of early customers who had waited in long lines. Third-party companies signed up for licenses to produce their own versions of Newton devices, with the Sharp Expert Pad PI-7000 being announced at the same time as original MessagePad. By 1995, tepid sales of the MessagePad 120 forced Apple to resort to rebates to help move inventory of devices and accessories.
The Newton Systems Group was spun off from Apple Computer on July 1, 1997 into a wholly-owned subsidiary company, Newton, Inc. The MessagePad 2100 was the first and only model to be released under the "Newton Technology" brand. The subsidiary was soon re-absorbed back into Apple after CEO Gil Amelio was fired by the board and Steve Jobs took over as interim CEO. Jobs cancelled the Newton on February 27, 1998, causing fans and developers to protest at the Apple campus in March.
Former Apple Newton developers founded Pixo, the company that created the operating system for the original iPod in 2001. The iPhone and iPad, released in 2007 and 2010 respectively, are considered to be spiritual successors to the MessagePad. A similar stylus did not appear from Apple until 2015 with the Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro. In 2020, iPadOS 14 introduced handwriting recognition for Apple's iPad line.
- MessagePad (model H1000), also known as "Original MessagePad" or "OMP".
- MessagePad 100, same specs as "OMP", but with a newer version of Newton OS.
- MessagePad 110
- MessagePad 120
- MessagePad 130
- eMate 300
- MessagePad 2000
- MessagePad 2100
- MessageSlate (unreleased)
Harris Network Support Systems
- Harris SuperTech 2000, based on the MessagePad 120.
- Schlumberger Watson, based on the MessagePad 2000.
- Sharp Expert Pad PI-7000, based on the Original MessagePad.
- Sharp Expert Pad PI-7100, based on the MessagePad 100.
- Siemens NotePhone, based on the Original MessagePad.
- Siemens Online Terminal, based on the MessagePad 2000.
- Newton: Products, Apple Computer. Archived 1997-07-07.
- The Story Behind Apple’s Newton by Tom Hormby, Low End Mac. 2013-08-06.
- Luckie, Douglas. Newton MessagePad. Michigan State University. Archived from the original on 2014-02-26.
- Its as easy as Apple PIE for Newton launch this week by Computer Business Review, Tech Monitor. 1992-05-25.
- Apple gets to the core of a consumer division by Mark Potts, The Washington Post. 1993-01-17.
- On this day in 1992: Apple CEO John Sculley unveils the Newton, Apple's personal digital assistant, at CES in Chicago by Jon Erlichman, Twitter. 2017-05-29.
- Happy 25th birthday, Apple Newton, you beautiful failure by Stan Schroeder, Yahoo! Finance. 2017-05-29.
- Newton steals the show at Boston Macworld Expo by Knight-Ridder News Service, The Baltimore Sun. 1993-08-09.
- Apple Announces Nationwide Rebate Program for MessagePad 120s, Apple Computer. 1995-05-10. Archived 1999-01-16.
- Newton, Inc. Unveils Fresh Corporate Identity and Announces New Company Headquarters in U.S. and Europe, Apple Computer. 1997-08-06. Archived 1998-02-04.
- Luckie, Douglas. MessagePad 2100/2000 with OS 2.1. Michigan State University. Archived from the original on 2014-03-23.
- Why did Apple kill the Newton? by David MacNeill, Pen Computing Magazine. 1998-06.
- 22 years ago (March 6, 1998) Newton fans staged a protest at Apple to express their displeasure in shuttering the Newton project. by SchnauzerLogic, Twitter. 2020-03-10.
- Little-known startup was behind iPod's easy-to-use interface / Firm's founder now working on the latest handhelds by Matthew Yi, San Francisco Chronicle. 2004-08-16.
- Remembering the Newton MessagePad, 20 years later by Benj Edwards, Macworld. 2013-08-27.
- Review: Apple Pencil is the best iPad writing tool yet … if you can handle the Pro’s size by Zac Hall, 9to5Mac. 2015-11-24.
- iPadOS 14 introduces new features designed specifically for iPad, Apple Inc. 2020-06-22.
- Newton at Apple (archived 1997-07-07)
- Newton FAQ at Chuma.org
- Newtonhonk before iphone and ipad
- Newton Glossary an almost definitive guide to Newton-related terms and trivia
- Newton Resurrection at Oocities (mirrored 2009-10)
- Newton Special Interest Group at Michigan State University
- NewtonTalk.net mailing list
- Newtman's Newton Site
- Stephanie's Newton Web Site (archived 2008-04-25)
- The Newted Community the home away from home for Newton users since 1999
- The ULTIMATE Newton (archived 1999-02-03)
- United Network of Newton Archives the largest single Newton-related repository
- AppleNewton.co.uk just another site about Apple Newton
- Apple Newton at Wikipedia
- Marketer's Dream, Engineer's Nightmare by John Markoff at The New York Times (1993-12-13, archived 2015-05-26)
- Remembering the Apple Newton's Prophetic Failure and Lasting Impact by Matt Honan at Wired (2013-08-05)