📲 Your Smartphone Owes It To General Magic—A 90s Startup That Didn't Succeed 🙏

“The greatest people are self-managed, they don’t need to be managed. What they need is a common vision. Once they know what to do, then they’ll figure out how to do it”
— Steve Jobs

If it wasn’t for General Magic, there’d probably be no smartphones as we know it, which started a whole new app economy and a gazillion of new companies.

Some of these companies lowered the barriers of entry to investing and saving :freetrade:.

General Magic was a group of people mostly from the Apple Macintosh division. Apple spun it off in late '80s after the group lost its chief visionary (Steve Jobs was ousted by the board) and, in February 1995, General Magic had its moment of glory on Wall St.

I’m too lazy, so you can read the rest about General Magic on its Wikipedia page :rofl: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Magic

TL;DR

General Magic was ahead of its time. It invented a portable device, which also led to the creation of Newton at Apple, by coming up with things similar to what we call a touchscreen, a USB, multimedia, networking (before WWW).

They created an iPad and iPhone in early-mid 90s, when most people never owned a desktop PC.


(the phone on the left was drawn in the 80s, the device on the right was the first “smartphone”)

General Magic was regarded by some as the Fairchild Semiconductor of the 90s. Fairchild’s ex-employees created Intel and AMD—all powering our devices today with tradable stocks available for us to buy and sell. Fairchild probably started the entire Silicon Valley thing, as people who started it moved to the West Coast after being fed up with Bell Labs and other bureaucratic companies who weren’t innovating fast enough.

The important thing is that failure of that company, which was initially like an R&D centre full of some of the top minds (think Xerox PARC in late 1970s, which came up with the graphical user interface and a computer mouse), influenced many inventions that we all use every day.

iPhone and Android

iPod and iPhone was co-created/co-designed by a guy who was just a college graduate working with GMagic legends. He later founded Nest which makes smart thermostats, smoke detectors and many other things—it was sold for over $3 billion to the largest search company.

The Apple Watch project is led by a GMagic veteran.

Android OS was created by an ex-employee.


(she has also been a CTO of an entire country)

The documentary

The film about GMagic was released to the public this year:

Available on iTunes, Google Play Store, Amazon, etc etc.

Cheers to them :clinking_glasses: and their tenacity:

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Maybe a bit off topic, but that reminds me of picture I saw the other day of a Buick from 1987 that had a touchscreen computer in the dashboard

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