Before the iPad there was the MessagePad


Scan originally appeared in Wired 01.05, November 1993

Now that Apple yesterday released their advertising hounds, let's take a look back: Before the iPad, there was.... the MessagePad!

Yup, that was actually what it was called.

This baby was launched in 1993, ran on 4 AAA-batteries, giving it a ridiculously low battery-life, and sported the Newton operating system from Apple. It was highly anticipated, with hype going two years before the launch, which the actual product had a hard time catching up to. From Wired’s own recap of the product in the same issue as this ad was brought:

“Much like the original Macintosh 128K machine, the Newton has its share of flaws, bugs and limitations, but it’s still an amazing device that heralds a major revolution in personal computing”
Does this at all sound familiar to you?

In 1997, Apple followed up with the MessagePad 2000 (ahh, the golden age of millennium product names):

Scan from Wired May 1997

This 2k version was rather well received on the market, bringing in a bit of extra dough for Apple. This was in the struggling years, before the bubble and before the effects of the Second coming of Steve Jobs could be seen from the outside, when pretty much all stories about Apple was on the angle of when they would die.

Oh, and despite what you might think when reading the above, I totally believe in the success of the iPad. I've reserved a seat in my couch for it, and my moms next computer is going to be an iPad.

Comments (4)

"Newton is for all your mobile professionals out there who like cool stuff." Classy.

My goodness, I forgot how big the original MP was. To see it in someone's hand in the commercial is disillusioning. I have an original MP and a MP120 in the basement, and sold my 2100 when the selling was good. I still miss it though. I even have the developers kit!!!

While the iPhone does so much more, so much better (for the most part) I still miss the FUN that was using the NewtonOS. I still think the 3 soups that allowed extensions to the base format was killer. So many wonderful extensions were created by the likes of Adam Tow (HyperNewt), Hardy Macia, and so many others made such a rich and fun experience.

I'm always having to remind folks that for the most part, Graffiti Handwriting Recognition was a keyboard plug-in on my MessagePad (original). Palm then came along and came up with a device that was cheaper, smaller, in-elegant, but dang, is would sync your outlook contacts, notes, and appointments. So with syncing and handwriting recognition that worked nearly flawlessly, it was swamped by Palm's success.

Sorry, you've got me going down memory lane here...

Ah, thanks for sharing the second Newton video. Hadn't seen that one yet.

The Newton's battery life was killer. I can go weeks on a single set of AA batteries on my MessagePad 110. Beat that, iPad.

Actually, before the MessagePad moniker stuck, the original name for the first Newton device was NotePad.

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