Wednesday, February 22, 2023

The Story Behind Apple’s Newton

Tom Hormby (in 2010, via Dave Mark):

Steve Jobs hired Sakoman in 1984 to help work on a laptop version of the Macintosh after the successful release of the HP Portable. When Jobs left Apple, these laptop plans were scrapped, and Sakoman helped lead the teams creating the Mac Plus, Mac SE, and Mac II.

He found the work uninteresting, however. He wanted to leave Apple to work on handheld computers, and he recruited Jean Louis Gassée to lead a brand new company that would be bankrolled by Lotus founder, Mitch Kapor. The plan fell through, since it appeared that Apple would probably sue the nascent company.

To keep the talented Sakoman from defecting, Gassée proposed creating a skunk works project to create an Apple handheld computer. Gassée got permission to start the project from Sculley (without telling him what was being researched), and Sakoman set to work.


Sakoman’s end goal for Newton was to create a tablet computer priced about the same as a desktop computer. It would be the size of a folded A4 sheet of paper and would have cursive handwriting recognition and a special user interface.

However, they ended up focusing on the smaller and cheaper Junior model.

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