Apple‘s short-lived but cult-appreciated Newton PDA was “15 years too early” according to ex-CEO John Sculley, who also believes the tech company could “revolutionize” the TV world by taking it back to “first principles.” Sculley, who took over as Apple CEO in the 80s in a move that led to Steve Jobs leaving the company, told the BBC that he believes “televisions are unnecessarily complex.”
“The irony” Sculley observes, “is that as the pictures get better and the choice of content gets broader, that the complexity of the experience of using the television gets more and more complicated.” That’s just the sort of challenge Apple has faced in other tech segments and succeeded at, he argues; indeed, the original iPhone is seen by many as a turning point in smartphone UI and design.
As for the Apple Newton – a project begun during Sculley’s tenure at Apple, and axed by Steve Jobs upon his return – the BBC asked whether he was frustrated by seeing the proliferation of smartphones today when he helped create what was arguably their precursor. It seems, though, that Sculley is sanguine about the limitations of technology in the late 80s and 90s:
“Newton was probably 15 years too early. I’m not a technologist. I didn’t have the experience to make that judgment but we were I think right on many of the concepts. The product clearly failed in terms of taking on such an ambitious goal. I think in hindsight there is a lot of good legacy there with the Newton. Even if the product itself never survived the technology did” John Sculley