GUIdebook: Graphical User Interface galleryHome > Books > “Defying gravity”
Go backBooksDefying gravity

“Defying gravity” front cover
This image can be zoomed
Markos Kounalakis, Doug Menuez
Defying gravity
The making of Newton

First Glance Books, 1993
200 pages
ISBN: 0-9418-3194-9

I really wanted to recommend this book – a rare account of engineering efforts undertook to create Apple Newton – but I cannot do it with clear conscience. On the surface, “Defying gravity” should easily repeat the success of many stories of the birth of the Macintosh. But there’s something wrong about this book, something that – excuse the bad pun – defies description. Maybe it is the strange format? Or plain ugly visual design? Maybe it’s the peculiar page numbering scheme? Perhaps the stories are less captivating, and the photos too artistic? Might be all of that. However, the most important complaint from GUIdebook’s standpoint is that, save for two little photos, there’s absolutely no information about Newton’s unique GUI. The book glosses over the countless difficult decisions that must have been faced during its inception, instead focusing on yet another Newton stage presentation during yet another computer trade show. Pity.
Buy at

Back cover blurb

The following paragraphs are quoted verbatim from the jacket:

Defying Gravity: The making of Newton is an intimate and dramatic account of Apple Computer’s race to create a revolutionary new technology, once again drawing on its singular vision. Defying Gravity will explore the process by which an idea is born and translated into a product on which fortunes can be made or lost.

Defying Gravity chronicles the technological quest and business adventure story behind Newton. It will show the human side of America’s most innovative corporations’ risky effort to stay on top in a domain where winners and losers succeed each other with bewildering speed. A classic story of fire and corporate intrigue, where an unprecedented information and communications convergence provides the backdrop as Apple struggles to re-invent itself. They empower project teams within the company, form partnerships with potential overseas competitors, and design a new model for an American business seeking to compete in a new global economy.

Whether Newton succeeds or fails in the marketplace, it is a fascinating case study in late 20th century risk-taking entrepreneurshop.

What is Newton?

Newton is a technology comprised of intelligent handwriting recognition and communications software combined with a powerful RISC processor. The first Newton product is a portable, pen-based, hand-held computing device that goes far beyond the capabilities of a desk-top computer. It allows the user to easily capture, organize and communicate information. Apple calls it a “personal digital assistant,” and considers it to be its biggest market opportunity since the introduction of Macintosh.


Flying by wire (February 1991)01:76
Re-evolution (1985-1989)01:64
Survival strategy (The Sculley years)01:52
The 3 stages of truth (1990)01:42
Hack, hack, hoops, hack (1992-93)01:28
Storm clouds (second-half 1992)01:02
Crapshoot in Vegas (January 1993)00:78
Stage fright (March-May 1993)00:62
Defying gravity (May-August 1993)00:30

Page added on 26th May 2005.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.