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On display at the Bolo EPFL, Lausanne, France. (Image: Rama & Musee Boloe)
1987 — Apple Newton
Jumping forward a decade, we witnessed the introduction of the Apple Newton. This was produced during Steve Jobs' hiatus from the company, and not finding it worthy of the Apple name, he killed it when he returned to take over the helm at Apple.
The Newton MessagePad was a large PDA that tried to do a variety of tasks with inconsistent results. The stylus was used to write naturally anywhere on the screen. The Newton would transcribe the handwriting to digital text for use in the PDA functions. While this handwriting recognition was advanced for its time, it was not accurate enough to make most users comfortable.
The Newton eventually had a modem option for getting online, a true advancement in mobile technology.
The Newton, cancelled in 1998, still has an active user community, and can be found online for purchase even today. The team responsible for the handwriting recognition in the Newton went on to form Ritepen, the folks behind Evernote.