The Newton is regarded as failure, but Jon Sculley, Apple’s ex-CEO, argues that it actually saved the company from going completely bust. It also helped to launch to ARM Holdings, the successful chip design company.
In an interview with Cult of Mac Sculley says when Apple wanted to build the Newton it wanted a new microprocessor. Apple and Olivetti (an Italian computer company) took a 47% stake in a struggling British company named Acorn to design the Newton chip.
Acorn eventually became ARM Holdings. It IPO’d in 1998, just when Apple was killing the Newton. And just when Apple was at a low point in its history.
Apple sold its stake in ARM, picking up around $800 million, says Sculley. Without that money Apple might have gone under. So the Newton (and ARM) wound up saving Apple in a very roundabout way.
Today ARM’s designs are at the core of the chips that power iPhones, iPods, iPads, and the Apple TV. So, you could say in another roundabout way ARM is now helping to keep Apple in business.