Jim Marggraff, a former toy executive, seems to have beaten the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to the dream of pen computing.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

History suggests that the challenge will not be easily overcome. The promise of computing with a pen has led to some of the best-known failures in Silicon Valley’s history, including Apple’s hand-held Newton, and the Go Corporation. Go was a pioneering pen computer company that attracted some of the technology industry’s most famous executives, spent $75 million of the investors’ money and ended up with little to show for it.

And while pen computing has finally gained a degree of acceptance with consumers through devices like the Palm line of personal digital assistants and tablet PCs, those remain niche products, not the general-purpose machines that some pen computer pioneers envisioned.

Mr. Marggraff is familiar with this history, and that, in part, is why he has turned the very notion of pen computing on its head.

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Pen computing is a dream that many technologists have tried and failed. And yet, this toy executive seems to have succeeded.

And how did he do it? By challenging the whole concept of what pen computing is. He did it by trying something new, by thinking in new ways.