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Newton MessagePad

The Newton MessagePad H1000 was the first Apple product with a touchscreen.

A touchscreen is an input device that allows a user to interact with a computer or mobile device by touching the display screen.


The earliest versions used beams of infrared light that were projected across the screen surface. Interrupting the beams generated an electronic signal identifying the location of the screen. Software would interpret the signal and perform the required operation.[1]

Usage by Apple[]

Apple PenLite prototype, 1992

The PenLite would have been the first touchscreen Mac if it had not been cancelled.

The first device from Apple Computer to use some form of touchscreen was the Newton MessagePad H1000, first released to the public in August 1993.[2] However, its touchscreen required a passive stylus for detection through electromagnetic resonance, like that of a Wacom tablet.[3][4] During the 1990s, Apple had also developed stylus-based Mac prototypes, such as the PenLite, which were not released to the public.[5] The first touch-based device from Apple that did not require a stylus was the 2nd generation iPod, which was released in July 2002 with a Touch Wheel for simple circular gestures.[6] In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, the first device with a multi-touch display that used capacitive sensing to detect complex gestures from multiple fingers without the need for a stylus.[7] In October 2016, Apple released a MacBook Pro with a small multi-touch-capable Touch Bar above the keyboard.[8]


  1. Touch screen at the Free On-Line Dictionary Of Computing. 1995-04-13.
  2. The Story Behind Apple’s Newton by Tom Hormby, Low End Mac. 2013-08-06.
  3. What the Apple Newton taught us about UX 27 years ago by Jesse Freeman, UX Collective. 2020-07-04.
  4. AES VS EMR | Choosing Between Wacom, iPad Pro, and Microsoft Surface Tech by Kishore Sawh, SLR Lounge. 2018-06-22.
  5. Michael (November 27, 2006). Apple Prototypes: 5 Products We Never Saw. AppleGazette. Splashpress Media.
  6. Identify your iPod model: iPod, Apple Support. 2020-04-10.
  7. "Touchscreen technology basics & a new development", CMOS Emerging Technologies Research, May 2010, pp. 1–13. 
  8. Apple unveils groundbreaking new MacBook Pro, Apple Inc. 2016-10-27.

External links[]


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FOLDOC logo This page uses GFDL licensed content from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing.