Today in History: Apple Introduced eMate 300, 1997
On March 7, 1997 — 18 years ago today — Apple introduced the Newton eMate 300, a low-cost (for its time, $799) personal digital assistant (PDA) designed specifically for the education market and young students. The “clamshell” and translucent casing design foreshadowed the curvy-designed iBook and first iMacs, but the eMate was not available to the general public — only to K-12 educational institutions at first. In May, Apple also announced that it would sell the eMate directly to parents of K-12 students, college students, teachers, and university faculty members.
About this time, Steve Jobs had already come back to Apple as a consultant to Gilbert Amelio, Apple’s chairman and CEO, and Jobs was advising Amelio to discontinue the Newton PDA product line, including the eMate. Jobs’s also knew that the Newton/eMate PDAs were the idea of John Sculley, the ex-Apple CEO who had been most responsible for pushing Jobs out of Apple. The eMate did not fit into Jobs’s vision for a unified operating system across all Apple products, as the eMate used the Newton operating system. Also, Jobs greatly disliked the eMate’s stylus, a pen for writing on the screen. In fact, Jobs has been quoted as saying, “God gave us 10 styluses,” while dramatically waving his 10 fingers. “Let’s not invent another.” Amelio disagreed with Jobs, and Jobs began working to discredit Amelio by referring to him as a “bozo” and a “buffoon” in private conversations. From this perspective, the eMate (and its termination in less than a year from its introduction) was pivotal in Jobs’s return to the top position at Apple.
Despite its short-lived life, the eMate 300 — with its unique design, translucent aquamarine coloring, bundled software (including word processing, drawing, spreadsheet, graphing calculator, address book, and calendar functions), and hundreds of Newton applications — was the conceptual ancestor of Apple’s MacBook Air and iPad.
•Apple eMate 300: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuLJ2dWaYP0
•Worldwide Developer Conference 1997 Steve Jobs explains how he wants to turn Apple around: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iACK-LNnzM&t=65
• Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451648537/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1451648537&linkCode=as2&tag=historyknowledge-20&linkId=YYO7ZDVHEQ7T5BAN
•Left: eMate 300. http://www.technologytell.com/apple/files/2012/12/ematelg.jpg
•Right Top: eMate 300 Pen (stylus). http://www.bprogers.com/pictlibrary/e/eMate%20300%20Pen%203.JPG
•Right Bottom: Steve Jobs showing his 10 fingers without a stylus in any of them. http://www.mac-history.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/steve_jobs_wwdc_1997.jpg