1993: Apple Newton MessagePad
Looking like a Star Trek tricorder, the Newton MessagePad line exploded onto the market like a $700 supernova, and burned out almost as fast as the original Star Trek series. Sporting a pressure-sensitive 336-x-240-pixel display and trendily terse app names (Notes, Names and Dates), this one-pound, 7-x-4.5-in. computer introduced the term personal digital assistant (PDA) into the lexicon.
But the MessagePad was ahead of its time. Released with half-cooked handwriting recognition during Apple's Jobs-free John Sculley era, Newton's shortcomings were lampooned on The Simpsons and in Doonesbury cartoons. The project never gained the traction it needed, so Apple abandoned it after five years, allowing other companies to dominate the handheld market -- for a while, at least.