Sculley: Newton Laid the Groundwork for Today's Mobile Industry

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, former Apple CEO John Sculley was asked about Jobs killing off the Newton, and what he thought of the product in retrospect. Sculley admitted that the Newton was "clearly too ambitious" but nailed "many of the concepts."

Perhaps most importantly, Sculley points out that Apple had to develop a new type of microprocessor to power the Newton, co-founding a company called ARM Holdings. Processors based on those developed for the Newton now power most of the smartphones and tablets in the world.



Well the facts are that we had to create a new microprocessor for the Newton as there was no low-powered microprocessor that could handle object orientated programming.

So when we were creating Newton we also co-founded a company called Arm.

Apple owned 47% of it, Olivetti owned 47% and the founder Hermann Hauser owned the rest.

Arm not only was the key technology behind the Newton but it eventually became the key technology behind every mobile device in the world today including the iPhone and the iPad.
Sculley is clearly proud of the fact that even though the Newton failed, the technology behind it succeeded.

In the interview, Sculley also discusses Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, which he says he hasn't read; his and Jobs' relationship; what he's up to these days, including a large investment in social health company Audax Health; and what he thinks of a possible Apple television.

(Image courtesy Flickr/Ivan Bandura)

Article Link: Sculley: Newton Laid the Groundwork for Today's Mobile Industry
 

Torrijos

macrumors 6502
Jan 10, 2006
381
17
Had Sculley let Jobs push Apple towards a mainstream consumer market, instead of the business crowd he favored, only god knows what world we would be living in right now.

Newton was great for its time (it even managed to read my horrible scribbles) but the state of the company was so dire that Apple had to renounce the project and worst still sell its huge shares of ARM. (imagine if Apple still possessed 47% of ARM for the iPod revolution and the subsequent iPhone one!)
 

Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
3,490
1,234
ABSOLUTELY.

I'm not sure how much of the Newton and its business plan was taken by Jobs, but the Newton was clearly a very advanced device. It just never had a chance because of the tech at the time. Similar to the Mac: it was an idea a decade or more before its time.

Jobs' and Sculley's eras at Apple were both fantastic, but they lacked a more sensational approach to froth a consumer base the way Jobs did after he returned. Newton would have succeeded if it was as touted as the iPod was in 2001/2.
 

cohibadad

macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2007
894
5
Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.
 

soco

macrumors 68030
Dec 14, 2009
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Yardley, PA
Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.
I was confused after the first 12 words of what you said, then I got to the "but" and was relieved. And that's the whole point. A lot of what Steve did was terrible. He was riddled with fault and poor choices, but it's one of those patterns that wound up ending on a positive.

Perfectly imperfect.
 

glutenenvy

macrumors regular
Sep 6, 2011
175
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WA
APPS give value

If the Newton had apps like iPhone/iPad/iPod has apps it would have had a chance to survive. Any tech is too quickly seen as junk if nothing new is available to update it.
 

nagromme

macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
12,546
1,186
Certainly: there are many stepping stones on the road to iOS (and other companies’ answers to iOS) and the Newton was a big one! It wasn’t the first tablet computer, but I believe it wad the first mainstream one, and certainly the first “good one.” Ahead of its time, and too much money for me, but it was neat.
 

johncrab

macrumors 6502
Aug 11, 2011
341
0
Scottsdale, AZ
The Newton may very well have been ahead of its time and may be the forbear of iPhone and iPad but this is just a cheap ploy by Sculley to make himself look like not so big of a jerk. He is responsible for transforming Apple into an expensive toy company and nearly sinking it and I really don't want to hear anything he has to say.
 

RodThePlod

macrumors 6502a
Sep 7, 2005
704
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London
If the Newton had apps like iPhone/iPad/iPod has apps it would have had a chance to survive. Any tech is too quickly seen as junk if nothing new is available to update it.
Newton did have apps like the iPhone/iPad/iPod! Granted, the whole end-to-end ecosystem wasn't there, or the ease of getting everything from an App Store, but there was a burgeoning developer community that supported Newton as well as the other PDAs of the 90s. (I fondly remember the many long hours I spent struggling with NewtonScript at the time :D)

In fact some of those Newton devs have grown-up into iOS devs...

RTP.
 

baloo1986

macrumors newbie
Mar 22, 2011
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Had Sculley let Jobs push Apple towards a mainstream consumer market, instead of the business crowd he favored, only god knows what world we would be living in right now.

Newton was great for its time (it even managed to read my horrible scribbles) but the state of the company was so dire that Apple had to renounce the project and worst still sell its huge shares of ARM. (imagine if Apple still possessed 47% of ARM for the iPod revolution and the subsequent iPhone one!)
Android would be dead.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Had Sculley let Jobs push Apple towards a mainstream consumer market, instead of the business crowd he favored, only god knows what world we would be living in right now.

Newton was great for its time (it even managed to read my horrible scribbles) but the state of the company was so dire that Apple had to renounce the project and worst still sell its huge shares of ARM. (imagine if Apple still possessed 47% of ARM for the iPod revolution and the subsequent iPhone one!)
I think it would be no were close to where it is today. Part of the reason ARM is so great is the fact that everyone can use it. Remember Apple does not have share very well with others and would not of let ARM get out in the open for others to improve on it.
Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.
In many ways Sculley saved Apple from Steve Jobs. If it was not for Sculley Apple would of died a long time again. Remember even Steve Jobs said if he was not fired from Apple he (Steve Jobs) would of caused it to go under. It forced Jobs to grow up and become better.

Sculley in many ways saved Apple by firing Steve Jobs and forcing Jobs to grow up.
 

Kaibelf

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Apr 29, 2009
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Whatever helps you sleep at night, Sculley.
 

IzzyJG99

macrumors 6502
Oct 26, 2007
336
6
I viewed the Newton as too ahead for it's time. It was a proof of concept, though. That it could be done and could have the potential to work.
 

coder12

macrumors 6502a
Jun 28, 2010
512
3
The Newton had a beautiful logo, I love it! The iPad doesn't have an emblem really; not that it needs one.

 

tyche

macrumors 6502
Jul 30, 2010
411
61
Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.
Think on this. Jobs wanted the Apple ][ line dead and immediately. He was fully prepared to kill it off and only wanted to focus on the Mac line. You know Jobs, out with the old and in with the new and damn the consequences.

It was Sculley who paid attention to what was keeping Apple afloat (Apple ][ sales) and supprted that cash cow until it finally wasn't viable. By then, 5-6 years later the Mac line was finally bringing in the money. If Jobs would have stayed it's quite possible Apple would have died. Sculley kept things running quite well it was the other CEO's that nearly ruined them.

I kow everyone wants to think Jobs was perfect but he failed at Apple, at NeXt, and at Pixar (selling hardware / software) - he got saved when their shorts and movies became huge hits. It wasnt until his return to Apple where he stuck lightning.

Anyway Sculley get too much of a bad rap. He's not histories greatest monster.
 

nylonsteel

macrumors 6502a
Nov 5, 2010
725
20
re original article

funny & interesting about fate

steve "hired the wrong guy"

he then reinvents himself at next

then its the second coming of steve back ay aapl

and now look at where aapl stands
 

cubist

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Jul 4, 2002
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I loved my 2100, but it couldn't sync with anything reliably. Yes, I tried newtsync.
 

Bob555

macrumors newbie
Dec 10, 2011
4
0
Cancelling Newton

I sensed when Steve cancelled the Newton, or else it was expressed in circles, was that apple had a strategy, and it passed right through Newton.
In essense, continuing with Newton would have made a shambles of their mobile computing strategy of getting 15 years ahead of the competition and making a mobile computing hardware strategy that no one could follow.
They are at the cutting edge now, I think that with the patent lawsuit and what they have in the wings, the competition will always be behind the curve, and fall further and further back.
If apple had tried to ride forward with the Newton, competition would have eaten their lunch every time.
Instead apple has built a strategy and did not come out with it, which they would have had to if they had continued to innovate with the Newton.

That's why they had to cut from the Newton. If they had Newtons law of what goes up has to come down would have been seen in spades.
Now what apple puts up, keeps going up and up and up.
That's what Steve wanted. For apple to never come out with something others will copy without having a strategy that puts them above whatever the competition does to copy them.
I think we will all see this in spades more and more, with a family of devices and electronics interconnected in ways the competition cannot match, and always being way ahead of the competition as they innovate.
 

Benjamins

macrumors 6502a
Jul 15, 2010
646
83
Newton was years ahead of it's time.

I'll always treasure my Newton 2100.

----------

I think Sculley is trying to take credit where credit isn't due.
say what you like about Sculley, but he did lead Apple to spearhead the PDA/Tablet market.
 

Macman45

macrumors G5
Jul 29, 2011
13,199
133
Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
Boy does this article take me back. I remember the Newton, it's now on my list of collectable Apple products to obtain. The ARM technology is the key here, but as posted above I suspect that had Apple been more organised, the Newton may well have continued and evolved.

It's legacy is still here for us all to enjoy in other products.
 

Bob555

macrumors newbie
Dec 10, 2011
4
0
Newton was years ahead of it's time.

I'll always treasure my Newton 2100.

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say what you like about Sculley, but he did lead Apple to spearhead the PDA/Tablet market.
I think your right. It was a little like apples team on the macintosh before steve jobs discovered it.
It showed that this was clearly the way apple should innovate and the quality of the newton was the 'apple way'.
It was a bit of genius like the macintosh idea and team had and Steve knew it was the way to go.
It only got cancelled because Apples strategy was to come out with things the competition could compete with in very short order and at a cheaper price, with quality close enough.
The lack of that vision and foresight by Scully lead to products that were beginning to be inferior to the competition to meet them on price.
Apple can't get by like that and Steve knew it.

Feel good about that nothing the newton ever could have been will equal the pdas apple will produce now, thanks to waiting and setting it up right.
Scully saw what the future was, but did not know how to successfully bring it about, Steve Jobs saw it to with Scullys input, but he knew how to pull it off.
And apple will be forever and in spades.
They will simply innovate, making the competition jealous and try to copy, and never let it out unless their is a strategy that makes the competition inferior regardless of what they try having several moves, to unlimited moves, of the chess board down
 

thewitt

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2011
2,102
1,518
Newton was very interesting at the time, though it had significant challenges. I still have one, with every accessory made...

Sculley was a cancer at Apple. He was a horrible CEO at that semiconductor company he ran as well...