Friday, August 3, 2018

Leaving NeXT for General Magic

Chris MacAskill:

And yet, this little company with the world’s coolest name and logo, had the most compelling vision I had ever heard: a little battery-powered device that let you write electronic postcards that float up to what they called the cloud, and from there to a friend’s device. I have wondered 1,000 times how that call changed my world when I said yes.


Unlike the first iPhone, we had applications and AT&T was building a marketplace on their network. My favorite was maps from StreetLight that gave you turn-by-turn directions.


When it became clear we had a brilliant vision 10 years before it was technically possible, General Magic came to an excruciating end. Tony went on to build the iPhone, Andy Rubin built Android, Pierre Omidyar built eBay, Megan Smith became VP of Google and then America’s CTO, Kevin Lynch built apple Watch…I could keep going.

Previously: The Secret Call to Andy Grove That May Have Helped Apple Buy NeXT.

Update (2018-08-07): Jack Wellborn:

I am not arguing that the Macintosh, NeXT, and the Newton weren’t without their flaws, or that even these quotes are inaccurate, but rather that we all know about these products because they did ship and were used enough to have their flaws made widely known. People bought and used Macintoshes. They bought and used Newtons. They even bought and used NeXT workstations. You can’t criticize or even debate General Magic on the merits of their products, because they didn’t ship anything in large enough numbers for anyone to care about let alone criticize.

You want me to know how great General Magic was? Great, me too! I want to know all the crazy ideas, all the awesome people involved, how fun it was to be there, why it didn’t work out, and where these ideas ultimately ended up.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Jeez, I had found one of those Sony Magic Link devices in my boxes a few years ago and didn't remember anymore what that was about. It still worked, though (I also owned several Newtons, of course). Gave it to a computer museum. I hope they realize what they got there.

I am sad that I never saw one of these devices in person. So many cool OSes and hardware platforms, so little time.

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