Eulogy: General Magic

Remember Magic Cap? Telescript? Those AT&T Commercials? I always thought that General Magic would eventually tap that next big thing. I mean, the company's name just oozes tech success no?

Alas, it was not to be:

... The grinding demise stands in stark contrast to the company's audacious beginnings. Founded in 1990, General Magic initially sought to change the way the world computes by developing more intuitive computer interfaces. Rabbits roamed free around the office to inspire creativity, said sources, and reinforce the "magic" part of the brand. Apple and Motorola were early investors.

One of the first projects to emerge was Magic Cap OS for handhelds, which let people set their own rules for message alerts and acquiring information. The company formed alliances with Sony, Philips and British Telecom, among others.

With AT&T, for instance, the company helped create AT&T PersonalLink, which let PDA users receive and send faxes and e-mails and perform calendar functions. Motorola used the MagicCap OS on its Envoy PDA while Sony used the OS on its MagicLink PDA. An IPO took place in 1995.

... In 1996, as the Internet boom began, General Magic came up with Telescript, a software-agent technology that would search the Web and automatically retrieve information such as stock quotes and airline ticket prices.

... Throughout these years, finances were somewhat precarious. Losses, layoffs and management reorganizations were periodic events. From 1990 to mid-1996, the company lost more than $74 million.

Ahhh... always sad to see a neat tech company fail. Let's all bow our heads.


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