Feeds

Before the iPad, there was the Newton

MessagePad 120 – it didn't suck

The essential guide to IT transformation

'This is the end / Beautiful friend'

A Newton 2.0–equipped MessagePad 120 was, as I mentioned above, far superior to the earlier 1.x-equipped MessagePads. Version 2.0 brought such niceties as printed-handwriting recognition, auto-expanding text macros, a new (and faster) Connection Kit for backup to Mac and PC, an Ink Text capability that added cut-and-paste and word-wrap to unconverted handwritten text, and a lot more.

But it was too late. The earlier iterations' foibles — especially their capricious-before-you-trained-it handwriting recognition that was lampooned by such notables as Doonesbury and The Simpsons — had made the Newton platform a laughing stock rather than a cool, forward-looking must-have.

On Friday, February 27, 1998 — not long after his return to power at Apple — Steve Jobs released the news that we Newton aficionados had already known for some time: the MessagePad series was dead.

Newton MessagePad 120 - date stamp

(click to enlarge)

One final note. When I opened up my MessagePad 120, I discovered the above stamp on the inside of its metallic paint–sprayed case bottom. Note the date: November 4 1994. My 120 was a Newton OS 2.0 model — which wasn't released until the end of 1995.

Either Apple made a pile of MessagePad 120 case bottoms at the end of 1994 and expected another batch to be needed sometime in 1995, or the devices simply weren't selling up to projections and there was a warehouse somewhere in Taiwan that held a lot of unassembled cases for a lot longer than Cupertino had intended. ®

Bootnote1

A little help? On the top of the MessagePad 120's logic board is one prominent chip: a Zilog Z8503008VSC — and I'm at a loss as to what its function is. My guess is an I/O controller, but I assume that some experienced (and ... ahem ... "seasoned") Reg reader might be able to help me out. Here 'tis:

Newton MessagePad 120 - unknown Zilog chip

You gotta love the hand-drawn QA markings

Bootnote2

Care for a bit of Newtonian time travel? Check out the video that shipped with these li'l buggers. Much may have changed since August 1993, but marketing is forever:

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?