Apple abandons the 'Newton' trademark logo

Apple recently abandoned the "Newton" trademark it has long held onto, even after development of the Newton was axed in 1997

UPDATE: The abandoned trademark is applicable only to Canada. As it turns out, Apple's US trademark for the Newton logo was abandoned back in 2004. Thanks to Erick Silva of MacRumors for the clarification.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he wasted absolutely no time in streamlining Apple's operations. Finding Apple's hardware offerings confusing and convoluted, he quickly shrunk down Apple's hardware lineup to just four offerings -  laptops for either consumers or professionals, and desktops for either consumers or professionals.

In the process, a number of projects were killed, including the Newton - the first PDA that famously came with temperamental handwriting recognition. While it's impossible to know for sure, it's been rumored that Jobs was especially keen on axing the Newton because it was the brainchild of John Sculley, the former Apple CEO who forced Jobs out of Apple in 1985.

Nevertheless, Apple has long since maintained a trademark for the Newton logo design even after development on the PDA was stopped dead in its tracks in 1997.

But after scouring through the website of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office recently, Patently Apple discovered that Apple abandoned the trademark for the Newton logo design on February 12, 2013.

I'd like to say that this marks the end of an era, but truthfully, the era of the Newton has been dead for quite some time now. What's more, the Newton logo below is terribly 1990s-esque. Indeed, the design below is reminiscent of a lot of Apple's marketing from the early-mid 90's.

And while we're on the topic of the Newton and handwriting recognition, it's interesting to note that Jobs back in 2003 explained to Walt Mossberg at the first annual All Things D conference why Apple wasn't keen on stylus computing and handwriting recognition.

I think it’s about handwriting input versus a keyboard. And, handwriting recognition has been tried over and over again and even when you get it really good, it turns out Apple, believe it or not, after all that pain they went through with Newton, has the best handwriting technology in the world now. It’s way better than anything else.

You know the problem? It doesn't matter. It’s really slow to write stuff. You know, you could never keep up with your email if you had to write it all out.

And so, it turns out people want keyboards. I mean, when I started in this business one of the biggest challenges was that people couldn't type. And one day we realized that death would eventually take care of this. And so, people know how to type now. And if you do email of any volume, you gotta have a keyboard.

Oddly enough, the stylus has experienced somewhat of a reemergence thanks to the surprising commercial success of Samsung's Galaxy Note.

It's also worth noting that John Sculley has retroactively said that handwriting recognition - which was arguably the Newton's downfall - was never intended to be the key selling point of the device.

“Handwriting was never intended to be a very important aspect of it,” Sculley explained in late 2012. “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.”

Of course, that's really hard to believe. I mean, take a look at this old commercial for the Newton titled "Intelligence by Newton." Every clip in the first 45 seconds shows someone using a stylus to write something on their Newton.

In any event, the fact remains that the Newton is still beloved by many as a device that was way ahead of its time.

via Patently Apple

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

IT Salary Survey: The results are in