One of the eMate's biggest strengths as a portable learning machine was its set of built-in applications included in 8MB of ROM. With a push of a button, users could call up an integrated office suite that included word processing, spreadsheet, and drawing capabilities.
Apple also offered NetHopper, a Newton-based Web browser, and a Eudora email client on CD-ROM (installable through a Mac connection) as a nod to its Internet capabilities. Users could add a modem or ethernet card to a PC Card slot on the side of the machine to hook up to the Net, but Apple did not include any network adapter in the box.
A colorful legacy
To this date, no sales records for the eMate have ever been released, but many believe that the machine, which was highly regarded by the press, had the potential to be a best-selling product if Apple had made it more widely available.
In September 1997, the eMate received a significant endorsement as a product with a "bright future" from an authority no less than Steve Jobs himself as part of an email to a customer. The about-to-be interim CEO clearly appreciated its vision and design, although the eMate, first announced in December 1996, originated from an Apple without Jobs.
Ultimately, Steve Jobs knew that Apple could only survive in that troubled time if it focused on its core business (the Macintosh), so the entire Newton line met its end in early 1998, much to the chagrin of Newton fans everywhere. The eMate died with it, but its legacy lives on. Its innovative visual design helped catalyze a new era of success for Apple, and its role as a low-cost learning machine for kids has now been fulfilled very well by the iPad.