Luke Dormehl for Cult of Mac:
2. August 1993: Apple debuts MessagePad, the first product in its Newton series of handheld personal digital assistants.
Newton, the most unfairly malformed product in Apple history, is a revolutionary device. There is Apple's pressure against app-based mobile devices 14 years later. Often dismissed as a failure, Newton ranks near the top of the list of Apple's most influential creations.
The Newton MessagePad launch at Macworld Expo in 1993 proved to be relatively low-key compared to the Macintosh debut in 1984. Still, Apple's new handheld device received a fair amount of press.
Unfortunately, some of this kind of parody took on Newton's technology. The handwriting recognition software took a particularly big hit. (It was forged in a Doonesbury cartoon and on The Simpsons.)
In fact, Newton's handwriting recognition actually worked impressively well. Think of two of the most amazing features (and again, let me remind you that this was a quarter of a century ago!).
First, Newton could recognize italicized handwriting and printed letters. Second, while it came with a 10,000-word library it could recognize from the box, it could learn new words that our iPhones do today.
MacDailyNews Take: Blast from the past:
Just when they got it right (Newton 2100), Steve came back and killed it. The Newton community continues to struggle today with handheld computers, which in many ways are still the best on the market. Newton technology was used as the basis for the Inkwell component of the Mac OS X Jaguar. – MacDailyNews, February 27, 2003