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Early “Who Is Newton?” Commercial From Apple

You know, it’s no wonder that so many people thought the actual name of the MessagePad from Apple was “Newton” when the company was pumping out commercials such as this one.

The MessagePad was the well-known personal digital assistant (PDA) released by Apple in the 1990’s that really heralded some of the later things the company would do with Mac OS X, the iPhone and eventually the iPad.  (You can see an “unboxing” of the MessagePad that our own Jon Rettinger did early this year right here on the site.  While the Newton OS was around for about five years, I think the branding was part of what it kept it from ever really catching on.

apple_newtonNewton was an operating system that could be ported to various devices, but the true name of the PDA featured in this advertisement was named MessagePad. While Newton became the default name, it made it difficult for the OS to show up on other devices because it confused consumers as to what the heck any of the devices actually were.  And, to be quite honest, the same thing is kind of happening with Android phones just being called “Android” (“Hey, have you seen my Android?”) when the operating system is also being installed on tablet devices.  Luckily consumers are a bit more savvy these days and it isn’t as large of a problem.

This isn’t to say that the MessagePad didn’t have a lot of other issues, such as its famously bad handwriting recognition, but when you run ads for your product right out of the gate calling it by something other than its actual model name, you’re bound to have problems.  (Never mind the somewhat crappy “guardian angel” that looks more like an Angel of Death following you around …)


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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...


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