eMate still a crowd favorite

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.

emate300-smAs 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”…


One response to “eMate still a crowd favorite”

  1. Adam Rosen says:

    ORIGINAL BLOGSPOT COMMENTS:

    ralleywolf said…
    Hey it does seem pretty cool. It kinda reminds me of the OLPC.
    March 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Adam Rosen said…
    I’ve had that same thought – both are small, green and have carrying handles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the eMate was part of the inspiration for the OLPC design.
    March 15, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    aftermac said…
    Somehow, I don’t think that the iPad will eventually evolve into a clamshell form-factor as the Newton did, but I do think that would appeal to the netbook crowd more than a tablet. The eMate is a really interesting footnote in Apple’s history. I’d like to add one to my collection someday.
    March 15, 2010 at 8:32 PM

    Genghis7777 said…
    However others have had the thought that an iPad might evolve into a clamshell-ish design and developed it into this concept: http://myapplenewton.blogspot.com/2010/03/retro-computing-rolltop.html
    March 16, 2010 at 8:20 PM

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