Sometimes, good ideas take some time to flourish. Other times, they take a long, long time.
Take, for example, Apple’s Newton, the precursor to today’s ubiquitous personal digital assistants (PDAs). This prototype for a handheld computer, which the company rolled out in 1993, never quite succeeded on its own — Apple pulled the plug on the line in 1998 — but paved the way for several generations of similar devices from companies like Palm (not the mention Apple’s own iPhone, to which it bears some resemblance).
Or consider the widescreen plasma TV. Inside Sharp‘s booth during the Consumer Electronics Show, I recall seeing an early version stretched out across three large walls. The prototype –which displayed a crystal clear picture — must have been at least five to six feet wide, if memory serves.
That was in January 1992.
Next Monday, the annual CES kicks off in Las Vegas, with forecasts calling for 2,700 exhibitors and 100,000 (!) attendees, and the buzzword is green. Be it cellphones, appliances or TVs, the shared emphasis is on conservation: long-life batteries, ease-of-recycling, greater energy efficiency.
In 1992, I wrote an editorial on the emerging Green movement. What goes around, comes around. Eventually.