Apple fuels rumours of tablet launch with Newton rehire

Apple has rehired one of the original developers of the much maligned Apple Newton, according to a report in The New York Times – fuelling speculation that the company is poised to re-enter the computer tablet market.

According to the report, Michael Tchao joined Apple on Monday as vice president of product marketing. He will report to Phil Schiller, a senior vice president.

Tchao returns after a hiatus of 15 years when he left soon after the Apple Newton project was canned by Steve Jobs on his return to Apple.

During his absence, he has had a high-profile career, most recently as the general manager of Nike Techlab, the company’s technology arm, which designed armbands and running shoes that integrate with the iPod.

The Apple Newton was a PDA which had a handwriting recognition feature but, despite it being a relatively powerful device for its day, it had difficulty identifying its user’s cursive script. This soon became the butt of many jokes on the burgeoning World Wide Web - where users would swap examples of how their words were misinterpreted by the software.

Many other Newton alumni have also gone on to greater things, such as Jonathan Ive who heads Apple’s design engineering division.

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