Tag Archives: Mike Daisey

The Dystopian Consequences of Utopian Societies

Since the dawn of civilization, we as human beings have been assigned the seemingly impossible duty to create the ideal utopia. Our founding fathers wanted to present future generations with a nation founded on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but as our country ages, so do some of its original values. We now understand the extensive list of flaws in the nation’s original Constitution and since then have revamped to mold it into the current understanding of human-worth within modern society.  So what have we found? Mike Daisey shows us the commercialized attempts at a utopia: Disney World, Burning Man, etc., but what about the Everyman’s utopia? As in most scenarios, when we have nothing left, we rely on the teachings of literature and the arts as a form of escapism—specifically the genre of utopian fiction.

First used by Sir Thomas More in 1516, the word utopia derives from the Greek word “eutopos,” translating simply to “good place.” More’s work of fiction, A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining, of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia, otherwise known as A Fruitful and Pleasant Work of the Best State of a Public Weal, and of the New Isle Called Utopia, otherwise known as Utopia, is believed to be the first published piece of utopian fiction. The novel caused quite a stir during the 16th century because although some of the successful Utopian practices were comprehensible, More also demonstrated the ease of sac-religious institutions; divorce, euthanasia, and marriage within the parish. On top of that, More was also a devout member of the Catholic church—this did not go over well. Although Utopia has become less common in the world of academia, it is still viewed as the novel that really started it all, inspiring many of the utopian novels we read today.

blog photoMap found in Thomas More’s Utopia

The 1931 utopian fiction novel, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has become a staple in high schools’ literature curriculum. Exploring a world compacted with reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation, and operant conditioning, Huxley paints a portrait in which the arts are almost non-existent. Instead, society is governed by science, technology, and manual labor. Before birth, embryos are assigned a caste and their lives follow the path laid out for them by the government. Freedom to choose your own life is gone, but what Huxley makes us question is the value of knowing the truth. Would you rather know what could be or continue your life in unknowing blindness?

Similar to Huxley, Suzanne Collins explores the same consequences of a genetically altered society in her 2008 trilogy, The Hunger Games—yet it is not studied in public schools. In a post-apocalyptic nation striving for order and progress, The Hunger Games displays the social stratification of predetermined castes when each year 24 children from 12 districts are placed in an arena and forced to fight to the death. The game is always televised as a reminder to the rest of the country that the Capitol holds all the power. It is no surprise that this attempt at a utopia quickly turns into chaos, disorder, and dystopia very quickly. But even with all of the violence and mature themes, The Hunger Games is still classified as a young adult novel.  In the last few years, Katniss Everdeen has become a pop culture icon of strength, skill, and bravery of the millennial generation and District 12 has become a common metaphor for poverty and oppression. There is even a Hunger Games inspired theme park in North Carolina where for four days you can learn archery or indulge in luxuries of the Capitol, all at your own risk of becoming Tribute.

So what is it about these works that draw us to them? Time and time again we see utopian fiction result in dystopia, yet it is a genre that thrives in our society. Are we trying to convince ourselves that we are capable of creating our own Utopia? Or perhaps we believe that through the power of text, action can be invoked? Each work shows us the dire consequences of such an attempt. Maybe what makes utopian fiction so enticing is that no one has yet to actually achieve it. Once we reach our utopia, then what?

– Emily Wilson, Communications Assistant

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You can do WHAT in the lobby?!

The word is getting out about our lobby experience for American Utopias. The design team’s goal was to create the look and feel of a camp at Burning Man as though it were conceived and built by Disney Imagineers. They also wanted to create an environment that had no factual, think-y data but instead to evoke feelings and emotions, and to stimulate the senses in a way that is playful, fun, and visceral, in order to prepare the audience for the work that follows. Here is a sneak peek:

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There’s even more to experience, but you’ll need to head on over to Woolly for American Utopias to find out what!

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All Together Now: two hundred years of American public assembly

excerpted from the AMERICAN UTOPIAS playbill

Even before the Declaration of Independence, a public demonstration in Boston Harbor proved the political impact that could be unleashed by Americans taking nonviolent action together. In what became known as the Boston Tea Party of 1773, residents of the Colony of Massachusetts dumped a British shipment of tea into the harbor to protest the British Parliament’s Tea Act, which they believed amounted to taxation without representation. Parliament’s response was to end Massachusetts’ self-government and shut down Boston’s commerce; this helped inspire the First Continental Congress and, as tension between the colonies and the British Empire escalated, the start of the American Revolution in 1775. Since American independence was established, American law has shaped – and been shaped by – the power of public assembly.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the most common public protests in the US were strikes and labor demonstrations. Despite eruptions of violence, the efforts of nineteenth-century labor demonstrations culminated in the establishment of the Department of Labor and Commerce, and a Secretary of Labor in the President’s Cabinet, in 1903.

The beginning of the twentieth century also saw public assembly put to use by the women’s suffrage movement. Several organizations such as the Women’s Political Union imported the tactics of parades, street speakers, and pickets from the English women’s suffrage movement. It was not until after several large, some violent, protests did President Wilson declare his support for women’s suffrage, and the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified in 1920.

The mid-twentieth century ushered in the Civil Rights Movement, which further demonstrated the power of peaceful protest to change American life and law. The efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, JR. and his colleagues to advocate for integration and racial equality paved the way for so many civil rights advances that his method of nonviolent protest inspired countless other movements around the world.

The power of public assembly and the delicate dance between demonstrators and the laws that regulate demonstrations continues into the twenty-first century. Legal battles recently flared again after the Occupy Wall Street movement began in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in 2011, and quickly inspired parallel Occupy movements across the country.

For the full story, read the note in the American Utopias playbill.

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What We Monologue About When We Monologue About Monologues

Hey, what did you do this weekend? Oh yeah? The beach? Cool, well, I –  Oh, you went parasailing? That’s really – A secret midnight beach party? With an open bar? Brittany Spears invited you to the VIP lounge?! Well, shut up. I had a cool weekend too, alright? You want to know what I did this weekend? I mean, what I did this weekend besides watch random Olympic events (Canoe Slalom anyone?) and feebly “work out” to stave off the overwhelming sense of my own physical inadequacy in comparison to these athletes?

Well, I spent nearly five hours of my weekend sitting quietly in a dark room while a large, passionate and frighteningly articulate man berated, seduced, interrogated and confided in me. No, it wasn’t date night. I was watching two interrelated monologues by Mike Daisey: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and The Orient Express (Or, The Value of Failure), which wasperformed at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in a special workshop presentation.

OH MY GOSH, huge surprise! I totally lured you in with that intro, right? You thought I was starting a new gossip and nightlife column on the Woolly Mammoth Blog. Instead, I’m going to perform my own monologue (see what I did there) about monologues. A meta-monologue. I know; it’s a huge disappointment to all of us.

Now, I know I wasn’t the only one sitting in the audience of The Orient Express who’d just been to The Agony and the Ecstacy, and, to further complicate this Venn Diagram, I imagine that of the segment of the audience who were there seeing both monologues nearly back to back, I wasn’t the only one who’d seen some of Mr. Daisey’s other work, like How Theatre Failed America or The Last Cargo Cult. And of that minority, maybe even a few had been to Woolly Mammoth in previous seasons to see Josh Lefkowitz’s monologues at Woolly. So, with all this said, I may be making an unfair assumption, but I believe I was one of the few, if not the only, person who was there not because of the controversy and press surrounding Mike Daisey, or because of the low price (free) of the tickets, but because I’m a real fan of monologues as a theatrical genre. I mean the real introspective, storytelling, “non-fiction” kind of monologue written and performed by artists like Mike Daisey and Spalding Gray and Eric Bogosian. They get me going, get my brain working, my heart thumping, my juices flowing.

Now, to be honest, I’m the kind of person who gets excited by a great New Yorker article or by someone reading out loud to me, so if you’re thinking, “Uh, the The New Yorker?  Reading out loud? So Lame,” then you might want to leave. But, as a consolation prize, here’s a great YouTube video. Really though, I think the comparison between a well written monologue and a well written New Yorker article is apt. There’s a certain way in which both are constructed, esoteric observations, descriptive metaphors, digressive anecdotes, and cold information jutting off like ribs from a central narrative spine made up of the author’s personal experiences on a trip to China or following a celebrity or researching Shakespeare or investigating the spread of Dengue fever. In some sense, it’s an ethnographical approach to storytelling; by inserting themselves into the narrative and subject matter, the author’s cultural biases and personal proclivities are made evident, making space in the narrative for matters of subjectivity and cultural relativism. But what’s so beautiful about the monologue is that, unlike just about any other narrative form, is that everything – its creation, presentation, and reception – happens at the same time, in front of the audience, in the same room, united within the single figure of the monologist.

The first monologist I saw perform was the afore-mentioned Josh Lefkowitz, when he performed as part of the 2006 Washington, DC Fringe Festival. I was a young and impressionable 16, an aspiring and apparently terrible actor just introduced to Stanislavski, The Actor Prepares, objectives, beats, spines and super-spines. I was filled with theatrical jargon and misconceptions about what constituted “real” theatre. But, when Josh walked on stage, sat behind the table that was the only set piece in the tiny room, and began talking to us, the audience, without pretense, without character, without objective, I was blown away.  I was blown away by the form’s immediacy, it simplicity, its intimacy. That someone would sit there and with the self-bearing honesty of a confessional, talk about their life, their passions, their family. In the monologue, Josh mentioned a couple other monologists, but in particular he talked about Spalding Gray. When I got home, I sat down in front of YouTube and watched the entire film version of Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia. You can too, if you like. Then, I bought up book versions of all his monologues. I even read his collected journals (really interesting by the way). I was, and still am, fascinated by the connection that Gray forms with his audience. I could feel it even through the computer screen. I felt like I knew this man, and that he was speaking directly to me. And in some sense, he was. Gray never wrote down his monologues, rather creating rough outlines in journals and on legal pads, from which he would perform the monologue in real time. In that way, the monologue could be different every time. Gray would perform a monologue over and over again, and based on the audience’s response and his own perception of how it went, would add or subtract text, move passages and words, try a new inflection or add a pause. Through that process he would crystalize and refine the shape and content of his monologues, all based upon his relationship and his perceived relationship with the audiences he had in front of him.

And that’s exactly what was so fascinating about watching Mike Daisey perform The Orient Express, a brand new piece and is still finding its exact form. In The Agony and the Ecstasy it is clear that Daisey, over the course of much iteration, has found exactly the right metaphors, the exact words, perfected when to quip and when to shout, when to draw the audience in and when to excoriate them. But, with The Orient Express, he’s still in the process of distillation, and watching him search for exactly the right way to say something to make it clear to us, was evidence of just how much his monologues are based upon that basic interaction between performer and audience. If he sensed we hadn’t understood something, and who knows exactly how one feels that, he’d try to refine whatever image he’d just presented us with to make it clearer. Often, he’d make several passes over the same point, approaching from different angles, burrowing into its marrow, ear cocked to hear just how we, the audience, reacted to each pass.  And midway through the play, as I sat in the dark way up in the second to last row of the balcony watching this process, I realized that my laughter, my shifting in my seat, my nodding, my gaze may affect some small part of The Orient Express, and that was truly exciting.

~ Sam Lahne, Literary Assistant

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From Mike Daisey – Why I Am Still Performing THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY

The Washington City Paper cover story by Chris Klimek uses a classic journalism storytelling technique: it asks a question at the end of its first movement that serves as the thesis around which the story turns. The question is:

“Why is Daisey still performing a play that brought him so much disgrace?”

It’s a great question. It’s an essential question, and despite all the interviews and writing around this run no one has actually directly asked me this question, so I thought I would do my best to answer it today.

It’s been a hard thing to look clearly at myself and see how I failed to live up to my expectations. I abused the trust of the public, let down my colleagues, and I failed to live up to my obligations to my craft. In the wake of the This American Life retraction, I posted a full apology for my behavior which you can read here.

After the public story went quieter, it was time to really begin to examine what I should do. Rather than go silent, I decided to remove all of the material that was contested in the TAL retraction and rebuild the show.

To some, this may seem absurd—after all, the show has been discredited, so why bother? I won’t lie and say that there wasn’t a strong temptation to simply cancel everything. It would have been much easier to drop everything and move on.

But this story was always much larger than I am, and the central tenet of the show’s work—to connect the audience empathically with the brutal circumstances under which the things they use every day are made—is absolutely true and always has been. No one contests that—not TAL, who interviewed Charles Duhigg, not Apple’s own auditors, not the NGOs who have reported on these issues for years and years.

Simply put, my failure to live up to what this story needed from me doesn’t absolve me of the responsibility to tell it right.

It’s similar to what so many have been demanding from Apple—I want them to make it a priority to consider how they are building their devices, and to take real measures to consider human rights and living wages in the process of their manufacturing. Just as I expect Apple and other manufacturers to reform their ways, I needed to look to my own house and do the same.

If I expect them to build an ethical iPhone, then I had better build an ethical monologue.

Classically, people go to ground in literary or journalism scandals that involve falsehoods and the betrayal of the public’s trust. But I am not a journalist, nor is this a book. It’s a piece of theater, which only exists when it is performed. As a consequence, the very thing that makes it ephemeral affords a unique opportunity to do the right thing, and make this story work ethically in the room.

One of the interesting things about theater is that it is not a broadcast medium—it is a communal undertaking. People choose to participate in theater, and my obligation is to those who are participating in the room. People who do not want to hear this work have a simple alternative—they can stay home.

This new version of THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS has been performed in five cities since the closing of the show at the Public. Based on deeply unscientific exit polling, audience surveying, and random questioning after shows, we believe that only about half our audiences are even aware of the TAL retraction. Many nights the number feels like it may actually be lower.

This creates a fascinating environment: What does an artist owe his audiences, especially when they are coming in with radically different expectations? How do we shape a show that works for most people in the room?

Peter Marks, the head critic for the Washington Post, said this in his review:

“Daisey does not use this revisit to Woolly to analyze his behavior in this affair, the unfortunate distraction that has turned Jobs’s “Agony” into Daisey’s. It’s a major disappointment…what’s missing is Daisey’s mind trained on the task of deconstructing his actions. Is that as important as the question of how thousands of Chinese workers are treated, making the products we love? Of course not. But it wasn’t Daisey’s listeners, or the media, that prompted this need. It’s unfortunate that some of us want the matter to intrude, however artfully this storyteller might weave it.”

While I can understand the desire for me to explain my actions, I think doing so in the course of AGONY/ECSTASY would be unethical because it would make the show more about me than about the very real issues and real people the show addresses.

Instead, in this new version, I try to make it very clear that I am a storyteller. I remind audiences, point blank, that they do not need to believe anything they hear on this stage, and urge them to find tools to investigate for themselves beyond the theater.

I think the new version also touches more deeply on the connections between rural China and the Special Economic Zones, and the circumstances that make work at Foxconn and other manufacturers an attractive option for many. It endeavors to humanize and complexify those relationships without letting the crimes that have been committed, and how we share that responsibility, off the hook.

The six minutes that were cut gave me the time to do this. Artists are thieves; this piece would have been nothing without the work of so many who know far more about China than I ever will and took the time to talk to me about it, or whose works I learned from. Time on stage is precious, and I have tried to make something that I hope does service to that time.

I do believe the work is stronger today than it was before; each audience member will make their own judgments, and that is wonderful. The show is not apologetic, because that would be terrible theater, and inappropriate in the show’s narrative arc. However, in the final moments of the show, at its climax, I do say this:

Steve Jobs, this genius of design and form, blinded himself to the most essential law of design: that the way in which a thing is made is a part of the design itself.

He forgot that.

And so did I.

It won’t be enough for many. That’s the way it is—it’s never enough, it can’t be. But I leave it there as part of the compact I have with those who choose to participate in it with me. And I say it because it is true.

Every night people walk in through the door who have never heard this story before, and I am honored to have the work of sharing it with them. When I talk to them after the show, and I can tell they are seeing their devices in a new way, I know that it would have been a crime to run away from my responsibilities and let this work die because of where I let it down.

The answer to why I am still performing this show that brought me so much disgrace is that now, when I tell it in the room, it brings me grace.

~ Mike Daisey, Creator and Performer of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs

You can read this post on his website, here.

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A Note from the Dramaturg – Apple in China REDUX

During a public forum at Woolly Mammoth with Mike Daisey earlier this year, Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz noted, “One might hope that the dialogue around this show helps the whole field engage in a discussion about the ethics and boundaries of documentary theatre. It combines two words – documentary and theatre – and while theatre is mostly about illusion, documentary is mostly about truth.”

With The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, Mike utilizes real life events and sparks our curiosity about how our electronic devices are made. The production has played a vital role in focusing national attention on labor practices at factories in China that manufacture products for Apple and other US companies.  Mike’s piece sits on a continuum of activist art that includes diverse sets of tools, goals, and rules of engagement. Some pieces on this spectrum adhere as closely as possible to documentary truth, whereas others utilize theatrical illusion to make their points in vivid and memorable ways. Wherever on the spectrum a particular documentary theatre artist lies, his or her first task is to help orient the audience as to how literally the story’s words should be taken.

Tectonic Theater’s The Laramie Project strings together verbatim content from interviews with a town’s residents and tries to make sense of the real-life murder of Matthew Shepard. Anna Deavere Smith performs text verbatim from interviews, but creatively weaves them together to create an emotional and intellectual journey for the viewer around a given issue. Ping Chong & Company’s community-specific oral history pieces often cast community members themselves as actors. Peter Weiss’ The Investigation draws liberally from the Auschwitz trial transcripts. In No Child… (performed at Woolly in 2008), solo-artist Nilaja Sun doesn’t draw from verbatim interviews, but performs her own memories as sketches of the children, teachers, and other faces of a Bronx high school. The structure, form and rules placed on each of these works are linked with the desired goal of each artist for what they hope the audience will be thinking when they leave the theatre.

Mike Daisey would describe his work as stories that weave together autobiography, gonzo journalism, and unscripted extemporaneous material that changes with every performance. Rather than utilizing verbatim text, Mike utilizes the lens of the individual. He lets his experiences work on him, simmer (often for long periods of time), and then reemerge in extemporaneous form. While Mike carefully outlines each section of his monologues, every performance is a fresh ‘retelling’ of the story. The type of theatre Mike has most frequently been associated with is the memoir tradition pioneered by Spalding Gray. Gray brought the monologue form into great popularity in the 1980s; in monologues such as Swimming to Cambodia, he made the personal and stream-of-consciousness political, and was mesmerizing doing it. It’s also possible to see some of Mark Twain in Mike’s work. Twain made the irascible raconteur political, and remained pithy and wise even when he was most outrageous. Mike’s works play on the experience-of-the-individual as political, and live in the tension between outrage and wisdom, and between comedy and tragedy.

How literally is the audience to take the words of this particular type of theatre? One notable aspect of Mike’s works is the trope of the bumbling non-expert, our ‘hero’ who will walk us through how he was transformed by a given experience. This hero is a visible investigator. In almost all of the documentary theatre examples given earlier, the investigator is invisible — only the found content is edited and formed into a theatrical whole. The invisibility of that investigator gives the illusion of objectivity – but as we know from documentary film, the juxtaposition and editing of material is always subjectively constructed. The ‘character’ of Mike, however, is front and center in The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs and Mike’s other monologues – constantly acknowledging the existence of narrative manipulation.

In watching the ‘character’ of Mike onstage, we see one man who has a question, and sets out on a Quixotic mission to answer it. We hear an account of his remembered experiences juxtaposed with the history of a technological innovation giant, Apple. As an audience, what is our reaction? We’ve just experienced a catharsis – we see our relationships with our devices in a new light. We’re also hungry to stock up on more information.The trope of this singular ‘hero’ inspires discussion and leads the audience to find out more beyond the story of this one man.This particular production paves a path for the audience to do that additional investigation – pointing us to those very reports, resources and tools. We, the audience, become the hero in our own quest to understand and take ownership of the most pressing challenges in our world today. The choice is ours.

The controversy sparked by The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has illuminated what happens when an artist falls off course. In his passion to advocate for fair labor practices, Mike allowed the audience to believe each detail of his story was literally true, although it lay squarely in that theatrical zone between truth and illusion. The citizen and activist Mike has a wealth of fact to bring to his craft. In the show, these facts are marshaled for the character ‘Mike’ in a compelling way. In the previous iterations of the production, in a few key instances the character ‘Mike’ was also granted license to report things that happened in the Specialized Economic Zone (the SEZ), though they did not happen directly to him. There was a gap between the facts of preparation and the performance itself. In the performance you are about to see, the six minutes of contested material have been cut, the complexities of the controversy incorporated, and new material added covering developments that have occurred since the production was birthed in 2010. This reframing adds another layer of complexity to how we view this narrative. If we look at the rules and specific form Mike has pioneered over his entire theatrical career, we can see that when it’s applied to the content of this production, a fascinating tension develops. A form built on remembrance of a personal quest can be an uneasy fit with a growing hot-button issue where the masses are clamoring for statistics, evidence, and specificity in order to usher change. It’s a challenge to frame The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs as not ‘factual evidence’ of the problem, but as a critical catalyst for the audience to look for more evidence themselves.

A transcript of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is available online, royalty-free, and has been downloaded over 100,000 times. Since late February there have been over 25 productions around the world with different actors and with different sets and stagings, adding another chapter to the life of this work. Last March, Mike  traveled to DC to appear on our stage to personally speak with Woolly’s audience about the role of truth and illusion in his work and take questions and comments. In addition to the ongoing examination of labor practices that it helped to spark, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs has continued to fuel a rigorous debate about the rules of engagement that govern documentary theatre. The irony can hardly be missed:  Mike Daisey has very publicly acknowledged his own specific failure in framing the last iteration of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.Yet it’s hard to think of another work of theatre in the past decade that has been so successful in focusing attention on a critical world issue.  This raises the challenging question:  what role does truth, and what role does illusion, play in that success?

~ Ronee Penoi, Production Dramaturg and Producer-in-Residence

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It’s Apple Pickin’ Season

As I’m sure you faithful Woolly Blog followers are aware, the remount of Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs is already underway. Tonight marks the opening of its three week run in our space. We are all excited to see how bringing this piece full circle will affect us, Woolly audiences, and Mike himself.

All that said; I’m happy to report that we have brought back the Apple Orchard for the run of the show… with one exciting addition! Check out what we have dusted off and are displaying in our lobby right now.

Apple IIe:

Released in January 1983 and originally sold for $1395, the Apple ][e was to be one of the most successful Apple computers ever (it was manufactured and sold for nearly 11 years with few changes). One of its defining characteristics was its ability to input and display lowercase letters for the first time. In 1984 the name was changed from Apple ][e to Apple //e, coinciding with the release of the Apple //c.

Apple ImageWriter II:

Released in September 1985 for $595, the Apple ImageWriter II was the first printer built exclusively for the Macintosh series. Because of the relatively small price and high printing speed, the ImageWriter series was extremely popular amongst consumer computer users. In 1990 the ImageWriter series was replaced by the ink-jet StyleWriter series.

Newton Message Pad:

Released in August 1993 for $800, the Newton Message Pad was Apple’s first completely new product in many years. It represented Apple’s entry into (and perhaps creation of) an entirely new market: Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The PDA market was barely present when the Newton was released, but other companies were working on similar devices.

The Newton Message Pad featured a variety of personal-organization applications, such as an address book, a calendar, and notes, along with communications capabilities such as faxing and email. It featured a trainable handwriting recognition engine, but unfortunately this engine was notoriously difficult to use. While later Newton models would show improved handwriting recognition, the Newton’s reputation for poor recognition would haunt it for years to come.

Apple Quicktake 200:

Released in February 1997 for $600, the Apple QuickTake was one of the first consumer digital cameras. The QuickTake 100 and 200 models were only compatible with Macintosh computers, while the 150 model was also compatible with Microsoft Windows. However, none of these models sold well because other companies such as Kodak, Canon and Nikon entered the market with brands that consumers associated with photography.

iMac (Rev. C):

Released in August 1998 for $1300, the iMac was Apple’s computer for the new millennium. Aimed at the low-end consumer market and designed with the internet in mind, the iMac was positioned by Apple as the most original new computer since the original Mac in 1984, and came in a stylish new case design, with translucent “Bondi Blue” plastics. It also included a newly-designed USB keyboard and mouse. By January 1999, the Rev. C iMac came in five bright new colors: Blueberry, Strawberry, Lime, Tangerine and Grape.

iBook G4:

Released in October 2003 for $1099, the iBook was much smaller than its predecessor, the PowerBook G4 and included a faster G3 processor, more RAM, VGA out, stereo speakers, and a higher resolution screen. It also was the first Mac to include a “combo” DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive in the high-end model.

iPod mini 4GB (Second Generation):

Released in February 2005 for $199, the iPod mini was built around a one inch 4 GB hard drive, and raised the bar for portability in a hard disk music player. It was small enough to wear comfortably on an arm band, but large enough to hold nearly 1,000 songs. Apple believed that its small size and consumer appeal would make up for its high price. As Apple hoped, iPod mini’s sold extremely well—the demand vastly outstripped the supply long into the summer months.

The iPod mini was available in five metallic colors: silver, gold, pink, blue and green. In order to fit everything in such a small package, Apple had to change the layout of the buttons from the existing iPod design. The result, which Apple called a “ClickWheel” allowed users to use the wheel as a touch-sensitive scroll wheel, or push on the four corners to click the buttons.

MacBook:

Released in May 2006 (original) for $1099, the MacBook replaced the existing 12- and 14-inch iBooks and 12-inch PowerBook model, completing the transition of Apple’s portable computers to Intel Processors. At the time it was considered one of Apple’s best computers, and around 2008 became Apple’s best selling Macintosh in history. The original MacBooks were available in black or white, and was the second (after the MacBook Pro) Mac to adopt Apple’s “MagSafe” power connector. The MacBook was Apple’s first notebook to use features now standard in its notebooks, such as the glossy display, the sunken keyboard design, and the non-mechanical magnetic latch.

iPhone 3GS:

Released in June 2009 for $199, the iPhone 3GS included both specification and feature enhancements over it’s predecessor, the wildly successful iPhone 3G. The iPhone 3GS included a higher-resolution video-capable camera, an integrated Magnetometer, and Voice Control. It shipped with iPhone OS 3.0 (which was also made available for previous iPhone and iPod Touch models), which included software enhancements, such as cut & paste, pervasive landscape keyboard, search, internet tethering, and a voice memos application. In June 2010, both models were replaced by the iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for another post coming soon about our special artifact, coming to our space on August 4th. Hint? This famed Apple product was in the news recently.

~ Melanie Harker, Connectivity Associate

{& a special shout-out to Brooke Miller, our former Press & Digital Content Manager who helped compile this original blog post!}

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