Sculley: Newton Laid the Groundwork for Today's Mobile Industry

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In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC, former Apple CEO John Sculley was asked about Jobs killing off the Newton, and what he thought of the product in retrospect. Sculley admitted that the Newton was "clearly too ambitious" but nailed "many of the concepts."

Perhaps most importantly, Sculley points out that Apple had to develop a new type of microprocessor to power the Newton, co-founding a company called ARM Holdings. Processors based on those developed for the Newton now power most of the smartphones and tablets in the world.

Well the facts are that we had to create a new microprocessor for the Newton as there was no low-powered microprocessor that could handle object orientated programming.

So when we were creating Newton we also co-founded a company called Arm.

Apple owned 47% of it, Olivetti owned 47% and the founder Hermann Hauser owned the rest.

Arm not only was the key technology behind the Newton but it eventually became the key technology behind every mobile device in the world today including the iPhone and the iPad.

Sculley is clearly proud of the fact that even though the Newton failed, the technology behind it succeeded.

In the interview, Sculley also discusses Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, which he says he hasn't read; his and Jobs' relationship; what he's up to these days, including a large investment in social health company Audax Health; and what he thinks of a possible Apple television.

(Image courtesy Flickr/Ivan Bandura)

Top Rated Comments

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115 months ago
Had Sculley let Jobs push Apple towards a mainstream consumer market, instead of the business crowd he favored, only god knows what world we would be living in right now.

Newton was great for its time (it even managed to read my horrible scribbles) but the state of the company was so dire that Apple had to renounce the project and worst still sell its huge shares of ARM. (imagine if Apple still possessed 47% of ARM for the iPod revolution and the subsequent iPhone one!)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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115 months ago
The Newton had a beautiful logo, I love it! The iPad doesn't have an emblem really; not that it needs one.

Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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115 months ago

Had Sculley let Jobs push Apple towards a mainstream consumer market, instead of the business crowd he favored, only god knows what world we would be living in right now.

Newton was great for its time (it even managed to read my horrible scribbles) but the state of the company was so dire that Apple had to renounce the project and worst still sell its huge shares of ARM. (imagine if Apple still possessed 47% of ARM for the iPod revolution and the subsequent iPhone one!)


I think it would be no were close to where it is today. Part of the reason ARM is so great is the fact that everyone can use it. Remember Apple does not have share very well with others and would not of let ARM get out in the open for others to improve on it.

Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.


In many ways Sculley saved Apple from Steve Jobs. If it was not for Sculley Apple would of died a long time again. Remember even Steve Jobs said if he was not fired from Apple he (Steve Jobs) would of caused it to go under. It forced Jobs to grow up and become better.

Sculley in many ways saved Apple by firing Steve Jobs and forcing Jobs to grow up.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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115 months ago
Man, I never realized how big the Newton is :eek:

Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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115 months ago

Sculley was a horrible choice by Steve and it nearly killed Apple but in the end it taught Apple and Steve an invaluable lesson. As for whatever Sculley has to say today, /yawn. He should've stuck with selling sugar water.


Think on this. Jobs wanted the Apple ][ line dead and immediately. He was fully prepared to kill it off and only wanted to focus on the Mac line. You know Jobs, out with the old and in with the new and damn the consequences.

It was Sculley who paid attention to what was keeping Apple afloat (Apple ][ sales) and supprted that cash cow until it finally wasn't viable. By then, 5-6 years later the Mac line was finally bringing in the money. If Jobs would have stayed it's quite possible Apple would have died. Sculley kept things running quite well it was the other CEO's that nearly ruined them.

I kow everyone wants to think Jobs was perfect but he failed at Apple, at NeXt, and at Pixar (selling hardware / software) - he got saved when their shorts and movies became huge hits. It wasnt until his return to Apple where he stuck lightning.

Anyway Sculley get too much of a bad rap. He's not histories greatest monster.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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115 months ago
I viewed the Newton as too ahead for it's time. It was a proof of concept, though. That it could be done and could have the potential to work.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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