Before the iPad, there was the eMate

Back in 1997 I had the opportunity to Dover, DE and teach an abbreviated course in basic HTML to a group of teachers at an education conference. It was great fun, people built rudimentary websites, and a splendid time was had by all.

After the course was finished I wandered around the exhibitor area, stopping for an extended period at the Apple booth. You can imagine my excitement when I saw--and played around with--Apple's newest gadget: the eMate 300. At the time it was the coolest looking gadget around, with its translucent green body, stylus-based screen, and complete portability. It even had a tripod mount on the bottom!

As the owner of a Newton 130 I was keen to spend some time with this beast, and I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved the thing. It presented the promise of being able to do real work on a Newton device. I adored my Newton, but its impracticality was its Achilles heel. Without a keyboard, it was useless for anything more than entering short sentences or phrases. Plus its size made it damn near impossible to carry around in one's pocket without first investing in a pair of suspenders.

The eMate 300, however, was different. It had a built-in keyboard, so I could type in a bunch of text quickly and not have to hope that the Newton's character recognizition would get even half the words right. And while this was also too large for any pocket, it was light and came with a carrying handle molded into the case. Best of all, like all Newtons, it was instant-on. This was a highly portable computer, was ready to go within a second of being powered on, and it was inexpensive. Conceptually, it was almost the iPad.

For better or worse, Steve Jobs killed the entire Newton line when he ascended to the CEO spot at Apple. The eMate was no more. It was sad, but now that I have an iPad 2, it's okay. I even tracked down a cheap eMate 300 a few years ago on Ebay. One of these days I'll also get a power supply so I can use it!

In the mean time, I dug up a brochure I picked up at that conference and scanned it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!