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Michael Tchao joined Apple on Monday as Vice President of Product Marketing. He will report to Phil Schiller, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Product Marketing.  This is a much different role than that which he had 15 years ago during his first stint at Apple.  You see, Mr. Tchao was one of the guys who convinced then-Apple CEO John Scully of releasing the groundbreaking but ultimately flawed Newton tablet back in the early 90’s.

Mr. Tchao is returning to Apple after 15 years away from the company.  He was at Apple as a Manager, Strategic Alliances, Multimedia Group for two and a half years and spent another four and a half years as Group Manager, Product Planning & Strategy, Personal Interactive Electronics.  It was at this role where he was part of the Newton team.

Although it is not clear what Michael Tchao is up to these days [ha!], he was largely responsible for the creation of the newton. Apple’s advanced R & D had been working for years on slate computers that read handwriting and beamed data across the room (‘Alien technology’ Mulder would say). Yet these technologies were meant to be incorporated in high-end $5,000+ super cool computers of the future. He and Steve Capps came up with the idea of using some of these technologies in a small consumer device to be sold today.

 The idea was completely rejected by the head of Advanced R&D at Apple. Yet, Michael believed this was such a great idea that he approached John Sculley directly while on the company plane over the pacific and made a successful pitch for the Newton project. Sculley had always hoped for such a device and was won over by the opportunity to father a revolutionary new paradigm in the field of personal computing.

Since then, he has had many other roles, most recently the as the General Manager, Nike Techlab/Nike+ where he was focused on the Apple iPod integration.

From the Times:

“He’s got the scars and the great ideas” about tablet computing, said another former Apple employee who worked with Mr. Tchao. He did not want to be named because the hiring was not yet public.

 This information goes beyond interesting, especially in light of the tablet rumors of late.  Here’s a video of Micheal talking about Nike+

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