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‘General Magic’ Uncovers The Firm That Tried Making The Smartphone Before Apple
By Yoon Sann Wong, 17 Jul 2018
General Magic might have been one of the most vital tech companies born in Silicon Valley, but few outside the San Francisco Bay Area have likely ever heard its name.
The highly enigmatic firm had operated by-and-large under a cloak of secrecy after it spun off from within Apple Computer to form a separate company in 1990.
Now, the story of how General Magic became one of the most important tech failures in Silicon Valley’s history gets unraveled in this eponymous film, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in February.
Its recently released official trailer sheds light on its story, team, and how John Scully—Apple’s CEO at that time—had gone on to debut Apple’s ‘Newton’ at the expense of General Magic’s original models.
While many know of the iPhone that changed the world, General Magic had, in fact, tried to introduce the smartphone some 15 years prior to the iOS device.
In 1994, General Magic shipped one of the world’s first handheld wireless personal communicators, essentially what’s called the smartphone today. Unfortunately, the supporting technology and the public just weren’t ready for such technology at that time.
Despite General Magic’s failures, its team members went on to become some of the most influential players in Silicon Valley.
This includes eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Nest founder and co-creator of the iPod as well as iPhone Tony Fadell, CTO of the US Megan Smith, Android inventor Andy Rubin, CTO of Adobe and Apple’s VP of Technology Kevin Lynch, Apple’s head of AI John Giannandrea, and WebTV co-founder Steve Perlman.
The film’s synopsis writes, “Featuring members of the original Mac team along with the creators of the iPhone, Android and eBay; these designers, engineers and entrepreneurs saw the future twenty years before it happened and have become huge influencers in the world of technology today.”
General Magic will premiere in Silicon Valley later this month, in the presence of more than 150 ex-General Magic employees.
Watch the trailer below.
[via Fast Company, video via General Magic, images via video screenshot]
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