Maybe Apple’s Newton Ended Up Influencing…Everything

The pioneering PDA failed, but the team behind it didn't.

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Marie Domingo

Fourteen months ago, I celebrated the 20th birthday of Apple’s Newton personal digital assistant by using a vintage Newton for a while. I had fun, but I also concluded that the Newton, in its brief lifetime, evolved in the wrong direction and that Steve Jobs was right to kill it.

Alumni of the Newton team recently held a 20th anniversary reunion — which they did to commemorate the anniversary of the PDA’s release. (My story marked the anniversary of its announcement — back in those days, it wasn’t all that startling that Apple started talking about the Newton eons before it was ready to release.)

My friend Phil Baker, who joined Apple before the first Newton was released to work on the second-generation model, attended the reunion, and wrote about it for the San Diego Daily Transcript. And part of his piece is an incomplete list of the products and companies that members of the Newton team ended up contributing to, which include everything from Internet Explorer to WebEx Hotmail to Postini to Beats to, yes, the iPhone and iPad.

It’s a reminder that a lot of really talented people worked on the Newton — and that even though most of them moved on to projects that weren’t obviously Newton-like, their experiences working on it helped shape an array of successes in other areas of technology.