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The PenLite is a early tablet based on the PowerBook Duo chassis that was prototyped in 1992, but cancelled by management at Apple Computer due to potential market competition with the Newton.[1]


Early development prototypes, codenamed Scribe, were ready as early as 1989. A small number of near-final pre-production units, codenamed PenMac, were sent to Japan in Fall 1992 for testing. The test units ran System 7.1 running on a 25 MHz Motorola 68030 processor,[2] like the PowerBook Duo 210.[3] The near-final prototypes were compatible with existing Apple peripherals, such as the Duo MiniDock.[4] An extension called PenMac allowed the system to accept stylus-based input.[5] The stylus and digitizer were developed by Gazelle Graphics Systems,[6] which was acquired by Logitech in September 1993.[7] The digitizer provided input data to the internal Apple Desktop Bus through a Motorola 68HC05 microcontroller.[6]

The project was initiated by Tom Gilley at the Apple Advanced Technology Group and taken to Sue King at the portables division. Development was led by Paul Mercer, with design engineering by Gary Embler. Arno Gourdol was involved with development of the PenMac input extension. Backlight power supply components were developed in collaboration with Jim Williams at Linear Technology to provide low elecromagnetic interference with the digitizing sensor. After the project was cancelled in August 1993, the technology was licensed to Assistive Technology under the Macintosh clone licensing program and evolved into the PowerPC-based Freestyle tablet.[5][6][8]

Court case

In 2012, Gilley was subpoenaed to provide a video demonstration of the PenLite to show the history of Apple's tablet development in a patent court case involving Samsung.[9]

Video demonstrations


  1. Michael (November 27, 2006). Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw. AppleGazette. Splashpress Media. Retrieved on November 28, 2006.
  2. Apple tablet - scribe - penlite - penmac by Thomas Gilley, YouTube. 2014-11-11.
  3. Macintosh PowerBook Duo 210: Technical Specifications, Apple Support. 2017-07-26.
  4. Apple PenLite, un prototipo de TabletMac de 1993, subastado en eBay by Pedro Aznar, AppleSfera (Spanish). 2007-08-20.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Apple Lore: PenMac by Arno Gourdol. 2019-02-09.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Macintosh PowerBook Duo Tablet Computer (code named "PenLite") by Gary L. Embler, Inspirics. 2002-10-14.
  7. Logitech Acquires Gazelle Graphics by Jack Searles, Los Angeles Times. 1993-09-28.
  8. Pen Lite: The Apple Tablet that Newton squashed, My Apple Newton. 2010-03-11.
  9. Tom Gilley, LinkedIn. Accessed 2021-05-10.

See also

External links


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PowerBook Duo series
PowerBook Duo 210 · 230 | 250 · 270c | 280 · 280c | 2300c
Duo Dock · Duo Dock II · Duo Dock Plus | Duo Floppy Adapter | Duo MiniDock | PenLite
Third parties : E-Machines EtherDock · PowerLink Presentor | Newer Technology MicroDock · UltraDock | RasterOps DuoMate
Discontinued in 1997 and superseded by the PowerBook 2400c