Apple’s iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch weren’t Apple’s first venture into ARM-powered system-on-chip mobile touchscreen computing. Nearly 16 years ago in March, 1997, Apple released the eMate 300—a
non-Mac clamshell laptop with an ARM processor running Apple’s Newton 2.1 PDA system software.
Marketed only through Apple’s education channels and selling for $799 (at a time when the entry-level Mac PowerBook 3400c started at $4,500 less-inflated 1997 dollars), the eMate was pitched as a
low-cost laptop computer for children, and it remains nominally the least expensive laptop Apple ever made. Although, adjusted for inflation, both the entry-level 11″ MacBook Air and the
stripped-down education only 13″ MacBook Air, both at $999, are now cheaper.
The eMate’s targeted user demographic helped explain the peculiar, somewhat toy-like styling of its translucent aquamarine and black plastic enclosure. Incidentally, the eMate was also Apple’s
first colored computer, preceding the original Bondi Blue…