Newton

From MessagePad to iPad: 20 years on, the Newton's impact can still be felt

An anniversary of sorts quietly passed us this weekend: Saturday, August 3rd, marked the 20th year since Apple began selling the Newton MessagePad, its then-groundbreaking tablet device with handwriting recognition. While the device was never hugely commercially successful, its development, creation and sale inevitably, inexorably lead us to where we are today, a "Post PC world" dominated by touch-sensitive smartphones and cellphones. The Newton's influence can even be felt in Apple's Mac line, with products like the MacBook Air.

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Newton OS running on iPhone, iPad via Einstein emulator

Forget iOS 4.2, what you really want is Newton, Apple's original handheld OS, running on your iPhone and iPad, right? Well, if you're one of the many uber-passionate Newton faithful, you probably do and there's a project underway to make it a reality.

Einstein is an open-source project to run (via emulation) the Newton OS on modern hardware. It was written and released by Paul Guyot several years ago. It’s quite an amazing piece of work.

The project got a shot in the arm earlier this month when Matthias Melcher got it up and running on iOS and posted a video of himself running it on his iPhone. Being a Newton fan since my original MessagePad in 1993, it was quite a sight to see.

Matthias mentioned he didn’t have an iPad yet, so I grabbed the source and built it for my iPad so I could take a little movie and share

Right now it's slow and required a Newton ROM that can't be legally distributed outside Apple, but there's seldom a obstacle smart, dedicated developers can't hurdle to get cool stuff done.

If you've wanted your Newton to live on beyond the original hardware, check out the video after the break.

[Steven Frank/Panic, TUAW]

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Apple posts new "What is iPad" TV commercial

Apple has released their second iPad TV commercial and it focuses on "what is iPad?". The voice is older and more gravelly. The music is slower and more deliberate. Just like the iPad, it takes its time. It also focuses the imagery on idealized use cases and puts the attention where it should be -- on the features.

iPad is thin. iPad is beautiful. iPad goes anywhere and lasts all day. There's no right way or wrong way. It's crazy powerful. It's magical. You already know how to use it. It's 200,000 apps and counting. All the world's websites in your hand. It's video, photos, more books than you can read in a lifetime. It's already a revolution and its only just begun.

It's an interesting direction for Apple advertising. Seems like smart one too.

Video after the break.

[Apple.com via MacStories, 9to5Mac, MacRumors]

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Newton Developer Returns to Apple as Marketing VP

Apple has hired Michael Tchao as Vice-President of Product Marketing reporting directly to Senior Vice-President, Phil Schiller. What's noticeable about this new hire, however, is that Tchao has worked for Apple before -- he's one of the original developers of Apple's Newton message pad.

Apple, Tchao, and all involved are being mum on what Tchao's specific roll at Apple will be, but rampant internet speculation has, of course, gone something like "ZOMG! iTablet!"

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The Four Pillars of PIM -- TiPb of the Iceberg

Recently our friends at sister site TreoCentral pointed us to this snippet: Apple was seriously interested in purchasing Palm back in 1997.  This is interesting for all sorts of reasons, but chief amongst them for me is this: Had the deal gone through, we might have seen the iPhone not only come to market earlier, but possibly seen it prevent other smartphone manufacturers (like RIM) from being able to compete.  It's an interesting 'what could have been' scenario: just as Apple was killing off their Newton line, it would pick up the Palm Pilot and add functionality to it at presumably a more rapid pace than Palm did.

It's also notable that even back in 1997, the powers-that-be in Apple recognized that they would need to transition from a strictly-computer company to a consumer products company:

A perhaps little known fact: in the Summer of 1997, Steve Jobs called Eric Benhamou, 3Com's CEO (the company owned Palm). "Give me the Palm and come and join my Board of Directors. Only Apple can make Palm a true consumer brand." Nothing happened. Apple's foray into the product segment had to wait ten more years.

Of course, neither Apple nor Palm were in a position to really get things moving quickly at that time.  Palm would have to wait until their first (of many) convoluted ownership shakeups sorted itself out and Apple itself was still in the midst of redefining itself for the Steve Jobs era. The parallels between Palm now and Apple then are also fun to think about -- both in dire need of a turnaround, both written off by much of the industry, and both have/had Jon Rubinstein playing a key role in revitalizing hardware.

I could go on and on playing "What If?" but instead there's something else that this little snippet brings to mind: Palm got something right with the original Palm Pilot way back in 1997 and I really wish Apple would take a closer look at that 1997 tech.

Read on to find out what Palm got right way back in the mid to late 90s.

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