Green Comes to Light

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.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow

One thought on “Green Comes to Light

  1. The rollout of the Apple Newton was also in January of 1992 — at the very same CES where Mike saw the Sharp widescreens. On January 7, Apple CEO John Sculley referred to the Newton as a “personal data assistant,” a term which became market-modified to “personal digital assistant” as added functionality was incorporated into the devices.

    What bugs me, however, is that since that time I’ve gained weight and lost hair, while Mike look’s exactly the same!

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