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Decades before the iPad, Apple's Newton tablet system was deemed a massive failure

September 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

A computer that "fits in the palm of your hand" that you can write on "like a notepad" that turns your scribbles into text on the screen. Sound familiar?

That was CNN's description of Apple's Newton tablet when it was first unveiled in 1992 at CES, the electronics tradeshow.

Billed as a technology that would revolutionize people's lives, the Newton struggled for several years before Apple finally killed it off in 1998.

But many of those technological features underpin a device that today has helped make Apple the world's most valuable public company, with its market cap exceeding $2 trillion last month — the iPad.

The Apple Pencil, a stylus that Apple first launched in 2015 and has since upgraded, is also a modern version of the original Newton's note-taking digital pen, with much of the same functionality.

Apple predicted that Newton would trigger a "huge industry that links information and telecommunications" by the early 2000s.

Given the smartphones and tablets that are now essential to our daily lives, that prediction has definitely come true — but the Newton wasn't quite the direct catalyst it was touted as.

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