When the first whispers of an Apple tabletstarted going around, we’d found it amusing that Apple hired back an old Newton PDA developer. Now that the mythical device is closer, we’ve been reminiscing more about Apple’s original tablet.
In the late 1980s, Apple appeared to be in the middle of a resurgence. John Sculley had forced out the volatile Steve Jobs in 1985, and a cadre of older, more experienced executives focused on building the Apple and Macintosh brands. The company was beginning to grow complacent, working to protect Macintosh revenues at the cost of interoperability and new technology.
John Sculley, Apple’s CEO, had toyed with the idea of creating a Macintosh-killer in 1986. He commissioned two high budget video mockups of a product he called Knowledge Navigator. Knowledge Navigator was going to be a tablet the size of an opened magazine, and it would have very sophisticated artificial intelligence. The machine would anticipate your needs and act on them.
One video showed a college professor working with the device to effortlessly prepare a lecture while the computer created the graphics and simulated different models. Sculley believed that such a device would be the next big thing in the computer industry, and he desperately wanted Apple to be the company to develop it.