Jul 28, 2018

Flashback: General Magic was a failed 90s startup ahead of its time

Old Silicon Valley nostalgia descended upon a San Jose theater as "General Magic," a recently released documentary about a 90s startup by the same name, held its local premiere on Thursday (its initial debut was at the Tribeca Film Festival in April).

Why it matters: Though the company in the movie — an offshoot from Apple — ultimately failed, its original software product was a precursor to the PDA (personal digital assistant) and eventually the smartphone. It was also an assembly of some of Silicon Valley's future technology stars, including Tony Fadell (later co-creator of the iPod), Megan Smith (later Google exec and U.S. CTO), and Andy Rubin (later Android co-founder), among others.

Second act: As Fast Company's Harry McCracken notes, after its initial idea failed, General Magic worked on a virtual assistant, "the Siri of its time," he says. That didn't work out well either and the company shut officially down in 2002. The company also developed General Motors' OnStar in-car communications system, which still exists today.

Go deeper: Read CNET's overview of the premiere; Fast Company's take on lessons from General Magic

There is no wider release date for the movie yet.

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Debate night: Candidates' last face-off before Super Tuesday

Sanders, Biden, Klobuchar and Steyer in South Carolina on Feb. 25. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.

Coronavirus spreads to Africa as U.S. soldier in South Korea tests positive

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

A 23-year-old American soldier stationed at Camp Carroll in South Korea has tested positive to the novel coronavirus, as the outbreak spreads to more countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 80,000 others, mostly in mainland China. Public health officials confirmed Tuesday the U.S. has 57 people with the novel coronavirus, mostly those repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health