20 Year Reunion of the Newton Team

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Earlier this month I attended the 20th Anniversary for the Newton – Apple’s most notorious product. It was pretty cool to see so many people after such a long time. For the first time in a long time, I was the youngest guy at a tech gathering.

Even though the Newton was a commercial flop, the project itself was pretty amazing. It was my first job out of college, and I had no idea what I was getting into. I wasn’t really up on Silicon Valley, or Apple history for that matter. But here I was, a week out of school and surrounded by some of the brightest people around. Folks may joke about the Newton, but back when I started in 1992, it was the hottest thing going on in Silicon Valley.

I had a long chat with John Sculley and his wife. I asked what he was thinking about the upcoming “Jobs” movie. He was actually pretty cool about it, even joked that he’s looking forward to be cast as the villain.

There were a couple guys there with actual functioning Newtons. They were gratuitously beaming information back and forth. I have a three generations of devices myself, none of which still work.

Even though the group was pretty small when I started, maybe 50-60 people, I was surprised how many people still remembered me. To them I was the kid who pestered them to do usability studies and submit handwriting samples.

Newton Message Pad 2000 Beaming to Original Message Pad

Newton Message Pad 2000 Beaming to Original Message Pad

David Temkin, Marge Boots, and Me.

David Temkin, Marge Boots, and Me.

Scott Petry, Me, David Temkin, Martin Ganholm, Marge Boots

Scott Petry, Me, David Temkin, Martin Ganholm, Marge Boots

The reunion itself was put together by Michael Tchao and Steve Capps, the guys who pitched the original product idea to then CEO John Sculley. It was held at a brew pub no less than 100 feet from Apple’s main headquarters at Infinite Loop. There were easily 100 or more people there, many of whom have gone on to way bigger things. As tacky as this sounds, there was easily more than $300M in personal wealth walking around. My percentage of that is considerably smaller.

Over the years I have stayed in touch with many of the folks I met there and forged some great meaningful friendships too.