5 Apple communicators and tablets that came out long before the first iPhone

Many users of modern smartphones and tablets mistakenly believe that Apple did not manufacture mobile devices until the first iPhone and iPad. However, in the arsenal of “Yabloko” there are several such devices.

The devices were not revolutionary at the time of their release, they did not move the industry forward and did not collect thousands of “emojis” during their presentation.

Now we think about not the most successful line of gadgets in the history of Apple.

How things were at Apple without Jobs

All the gadgets described below were designed and manufactured by Apple during the absence of one of the company’s founders – Steve Jobs… He left his brainchild at the end of 1985.

The company lost its charismatic leader and deviated from the course he had set. Since the early 90s, Apple has been trying to launch completely new products and clinging to customers in different niches. So, for example, from 1994 to 1996 Cupertinians produced three models of color cameras QuickTake, which did not gain wide popularity and did not particularly stand out at the level of the lineup Kodak and Fujifilm.

A more typical product line for the company, which was as close as possible to the offered range of computers, became communicators Apple Newton.

In those years, the very term communicator or PDA did not yet exist. At the development stage of Apple Newton gadgets, they were called personal digital assistants (PDA). This concept was introduced by John Sculley, who led Apple from 1983 to 1993.

It was Scully who took the place of Jobs as head of the apple company and began to apply his marketing knowledge gained during his work at Pepsi-Cola.


This is how the first concepts of tablets and PDAs from Apple looked like

At the design stage, the developers envisioned Newton as something between a modern smartphone and a tablet. Marketers have already worked through an advertising campaign for the product and saw the main target audience for designers, architects and engineers. The gadget was supposed to allow you to store and edit documents of different formats, make handwritten notes or sketches.

What came of this – see below.

1. MessagePad или Original MessagePad

The first MessagePad, also called the Original MessagePad (OMP) or H1000, was unveiled by John Scully on May 29, 1993 at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago. The gadget went on sale only 14 months later at the end of the summer of 1994.

The heart of the novelty is the ARM 610 processor with a clock frequency of 20 MHz. On board was 4 MB read-only memory and 490 KB operational… Most of the front panel was occupied by a black-and-white matrix with a resolution of 334×240 pixels.

The dimensions of the first Apple Communicator were 184.75 x 114.3 x 19.05 mm. For comparison, the dimensions of the current iPad mini are 203.2 x 138.8 x 6.1 mm. Weighed the MessagePad 400 gr.

The device was equipped with an expansion slot PCMCIA II, which initially allowed you to connect memory cards and external drives, and then learned to interact with other peripheral accessories. On the case there was a connector popular at that time RS-422 for connecting external input sources.

To power the device, 4 replaceable AAA batteries were used, which were completely discharged after 5-6 hours of continuous load.

The gadget was running under the operating system Newton OSdeveloped by Apple. Initially, the system supported English and German.

The price of the device was from $ 900 to $ 1569… In the first few months, the company managed to sell more than 50,000 copies MessagePad.

A powerful advertising campaign and an overly praiseworthy presentation during the announcement of the gadget formed overestimated expectations among buyers, which were replaced by disappointment in the first six months of MessagePad sales.

The main feature of the model – handwriting recognition, worked extremely poorly. The device took a very long time to learn the handwriting of the owner, which required regular manual addition of the words used to the database.

The operating system was very crude, had many bugs, and the autonomy of the device did not allow using it for one working day.

It was impossible to connect the gadget to the computer out of the box, it was required to purchase a rather rare cable and download special software.

2. MessagePad 100 и MessagePad 110

The first MessagePad existed on the market for only 7 months, and during this time the Cupertinians have done a lot of work on the bugs. The result was the release of two followers of the first communicator model at once in the form MessagePad 100 and MessagePad 110… Gadgets appeared in March 1994.

Basic model MessagePad 100 completely repeated the appearance and dimensions of its predecessor. The dimensions matched up to a millimeter, and the iron completely copied the original.

The main difference was a key update of the Newton OS 1.2 operating system and the addition of a third French interface language. The software has been improved, bugs have been fixed, and the handwriting recognition system has been seriously improved.

Senior model MessagePad 110 received increased dimensions 203.2 x 101.6 x 30 mm., the same processor was installed inside ARM 610 (20 MHz) and 4 MB read-only memory… At the same time, we increased the amount of RAM (from 490 KB to 544 KB) and expanded the disk space available to the user.

At the same time, the display slightly lost in resolution and could display 320 × 240 pixels. It was proposed to use 4 AA batteries for power supply, which made the gadget more autonomous.

The devices were on sale for more than 8 months, and then another six months were not withdrawn from sales after the release of the next model.

3. MessagePad 120 и MessagePad 130

The next two generations of MessagePad continued to exploit the tried-and-true hardware platform and came out with minor changes.

Introduced October 1994 MessagePad 120 received a modification with 8 MB of permanent memory and a RAM module increased to 639 KB.

The main emphasis was again on software improvement. The device was sold with an update Newton OS 1.3, and a few months later received a major update Newton OS 2.0 with an additional set of applications and interesting features.

The gesture system, which is now used in iPadOS in conjunction with the Apple Pencil stylus, turned out to be quite successful. So to delete a word, you had to cross it out, and to highlight it, circle it. In addition, the device is adept at self-aligning hand-drawn geometric shapes. Everything worked exactly the same as the iOS 14 feature.

The rest of the parameters did not differ from MessagePad 110… In this form, the new device has been successfully sold for more than a year and a half.

In March 1996, the last gadget on the ARM 610 platform was released – MessagePad 130.

There was only one modification with a storage volume of 8 MB, but the amount of RAM almost doubled and amounted to 1199 KB… The user had 1361 KB at his disposal, which is almost 15 times more than was available on the first MessagePad model.

The black and white touchscreen display began to be equipped with backlighting, which made it possible to work in the dark or in low light. The rest of the parameters were the same.

Both devices had a completely identical body and dimensions to the MessagePad 110.

4. eMate 300

Cupertinians decided to develop the idea of ​​a personal assistant for the user and in March 1997 they released a gadget eMate 300… Outwardly, it resembled typical laptops of that time, but it worked on the hardware of the MessagePad line and was controlled by a mobile operating system. Newton.

EMate 300 was equipped with 6.8-inch touchscreen display with resolution 480 × 320 pixels… The screen displayed 16 shades of gray and was backlit.

For input, the user could use a stylus or keyboard, the size of which was approximately 85% of the standard keyboard of Apple computers.

All calculations were performed by the processor ARM 710a @ 25 MHz, the amount of permanent memory was 8 MB, and the RAM was 1 MB, expandable.

A port for connecting a headset and an infrared port for transmitting information to other gadgets with the same interface appeared on the case. The third revision PCMCIA port allowed connecting Ethernet adapters, modems, Bluetooth modules and other peripherals to the device.

The dimensions of the eMate 300 were 305 x 290 x 53.3 mm, and weight – 1.81 kg.

A built-in battery was responsible for the power supply, which was enough for 28 hours of continuous operation.

The main emphasis of the model was made on educational and educational institutions. The gadget received a translucent green plastic case and was sold at a price $799.

5. MessagePad 2000 и MessagePad 2100

Model MessagePad 2000 Introduced in March 1997 alongside the eMate 300.

The gadget was based on a new, more powerful processor StrongARM SA-110 with frequency 162 MHz… The storage capacity is 8 MB, and the RAM is 1 MB.

The screen still displayed 16 shades of gray, but the resolution increased to 480 × 320 pixels. The background illumination of the matrix has not gone anywhere either.

It is curious that in 2009 the edition CNET compared MessagePad 2000 from iPhone 3GS, and at the time of release, the MessagePad was announced as more innovative.

Seriously expanded the capabilities of the device not one, as in its predecessors, but two slots at once PCMCIA II… The eMate 300 has inherited the IR port.

Modification released after 8 months MessagePad 2100 did not have any special differences and was equipped with an increased amount of RAM up to 4 MB.

Both devices were on sale until early 1998.

What ultimately happened to the MessagePad line


This competitor’s gadget practically buried the MessagePad

Cupertinos have been producing gadgets running the Newton operating system for over six years, but the devices have never been considered bestsellers and did not have the expected success in the market.

Analysts attribute the series’ failure to a high price tag. The gadget originally cost from $ 900, and with the release of each new modification, the price tag rose even higher. By the time the most powerful models appear MessagePad 2000 and MessagePad 2100 buy a mobile gadget from Apple cheaper $1000 it was impossible.

The second reason for the weak public interest was the size of the devices produced. It is difficult to call a gadget with the dimensions of an iPad mini and a thickness of three centimeters mobile. Not every user was ready to carry such a device with him, which did not even fit in his pocket.

Do not forget about the capabilities of the PDA of that time. It was essentially a large notebook.

At the same time, it cannot be said that the market was unprepared for this class of devices. A competing model has become much more successful Palm Pilot, which was presented by a little-known company a year before the closure of the MessagePad line.

The device became very popular, it was sold in a year more than 1 million pieces, and the company itself continued to successfully move and develop the PDA market. The devices of this brand were more compact, had more functions and interesting chips, coped better with handwriting recognition, and most importantly, they cost less than apple mobile devices.

By the end of 1996, Steve Jobs had returned to Apple. He began to take a number of measures to bring the company out of the crisis, one of the steps was the complete closure of the MessagePad line. Gadgets were losing to competitors on all fronts and Steve understood the need for change.

The company took a ten-year hiatus, and in 2007 Jobs presented the first iPhone, but that’s a completely different story.


Source: iPhones.ru — Новости высоких технологий, обзоры смартфонов, презентации Apple by www.iphones.ru.

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