In addition to the multitude of Macs in the VMM, I have several items from other Apple product lines which seem to fit the Macintosh Zeitgeist. The Lisa is one such product; the Newton is another.
As many Apple fans know, the Newton was the first Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). The brainchild of then-Apple-CEO John Sculley, the Newton was the grandfather of the Palm Pilot, Blackberry, and eventually – coming full circle – the iPhone and iPod Touch. The Newton MessagePad was the toy to have among the Digital Cognescenti of the 1990s, and remains in (limited) use to this day despite it’s forced euthanasia when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997.
Shortly before its demise, Apple released the Newton eMate, a small laptop (sub-notebook in modern parlance) designed for the education market. Colored Newton green, the eMate had a full Qwerty keyboard, a backlit touch screen (stylus based), an expansion slot, AppleTalk networking capabilities, and a sturdy, appealing design. It ran the Newton OS, not Mac OS, and was a task-based portable computer well suited for note-taking, drawing, record keeping, etc..
The eMate was not a big commercial success, but may not have been on the market long enough to generate sustainable momentum. In my collection the eMate is a perennial crowd favorite, particularly among kids under 10. Children (and many adults) visiting the Museum always gravitate to this system, intuitively understand how to use it, and comment that it’s a cool little computer. Not bad for a nearly 15 year old device! Cell phones of this era usually generate laughter.
It’s industrial design inspired the first generation Apple iBook (but alas, not its color scheme). However like many Apple products, the eMate and the Newton were ahead of their time. I’ve thought about this recently as the iPad makes its debut on the stage – another small portable computer, with keyboard input capabilities, a killer display, wireless networking, a sturdy design, and a task-based operating system. Wonder what it might do this time around?
The “e” in Apple naming schemes resurfaced briefly with the eMac a decade later, another education targeted model, but this has apparently been discontinued (and roundly trounced) by the letter “i”…