At the recent South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) event. former Apple (AAPL) CEO John Sculley discussed the early days of what would become the world’s most valuable company. The Newton MessagePad was one of Apple’s first forays into mobile, an industry the company would change many years later. The return of Steve Jobs to Apple saw the death of the Newton platform, which he considered a failure that he terminated upon his arrival.
Sculley also talked about how Apple needed a more power-efficient CPU for its portable devices and it found just that with the ARM architecture.
“No microprocessor existed that would allow you to do graphics-based software,” Sculley said while discussing the origins of the ARM project.
Larry Tesler, one of the two men who headed Apple’s ARM project, recommended that the company design its own microprocessor, a practice that the company still employs today.
Finally, Sculley talked about how the MessagePad introduced handwriting recognition, a feature that was heavily promoted yet widely panned by users. Sculley revealed, however, that the handwriting feature wasn’t supposed to be central to the MessagePad’s functionality.
“Handwriting was never intended to be a very important aspect of it,” he said. “It was really much more about the fact that you could hold this thing in your hand and it would do a lot of the graphics that you would see on the Macintosh.”
A video of Sculley’s speech follows below. (58:34 mark)