“It Was A Good Idea, But It Was Just Several Decades Too Early”

John Sculley, the man who fired Jobs and oversaw the development of Newton, is interviewed by the Guardian about cloud computing, especially about health care in the age of the cloud. But he took a minute to explain why he thought the Newton digital assistant failed:

“Speaking of connected devices, might one of the flaws in the Newton have been it lack of connectivity – something that now exists through mobile broadband? Sculley has, of course, had a long time to reflect on this.

‘Well, I think the idea [of Newton] was right, it was just 20 years ahead of its time. So actually, a lot of people were able to see where the industry’s going, the hardest part is to figure out when it’s going to happen.

‘In the case of the PDA, the idea was right – that the content and communication and computing were going to converge – but I think we greatly underestimated that we needed broadband, that we need far more powerful devices, that we needed something a lot more powerful in the background which we now know as ‘cloud’ to be able to handle the tremendous amount of data, and connecting people up through social networking. So it was a good idea, but it was just several decades too early.’”


The instructional video that came with the Newton: