More sexiness — and eventually a striptease
The MessagePad 120, like all of its Newtonian brethren from the OMP to the MessagePad 2100, had a 5/12V PCMCIA Type II slot. Ejecting a PCMCIA card — as per normal at the time — was a mechanical affair, accomplished by pushing a knurled tab.
The MessagePad 120 was hardly a multimedia device, so a 2MB PCMCIA card would hold a hefty number of items. Non-bundled applications, as The Dude might say, would "abide" on a PCMCIA card.
A snug li'l rubber cover protected both the MessagePad 120's power-adapter port and its...
...standard Appleonian round, eight-pin, mini-DIN serial port, which supported RS422/LocalTalk connections.
Just to make things difficult — and cheap — Apple didn't put a simple on/off switch on the MessagePad 120, but instead used a "slide-to-start" spring-loaded number. Although I would have preferred a simpler set-up that could have sensed when startup had occurred, I could have lived with this pusher if it had been a bit more positive in its response.
Ah, the FCC-compliance notification. Some aspects of electronic devices do remain essentially the same, even after 15-plus years.
Next page: Software and soup
In a way this was _far_ more advanced than the iPhone/iPad
Back then, they actually thought about making a pen-based users interface. For example as far as I have seen, you could just write a name anywhere and select it to get the address of the person behind it. It actually tried to do more with the computer than just emulating physical devices.
That first false dawn
As it happens, I went to visit Apple on a fact-finding mission as the Newton team was being disbanded, and interviewed leading players. I was looking at different systems; the focus wasn't Newton but General Magic's "Magic Cap." We looked at a number of other systems too, focusing on PDA and mobile media technologies.
Magic Cap pioneered the approach that Apple used with iPhone - building a community of network operators. It showed promise, but it was seriously flawed, and the dead hand of operator control had the inevitable result.
At that time, Microsoft's abysmal WinCE was both confident and victorious. It was puny, unimaginative and annoying but it leveraged Windows and Office. But it always looked like the past, not the future. It wasn't good, it wasn't loveable, it was just there. Newton had the glimmers of loveability, but the tech was flawed and Apple just didn't _get_ networking.
I love the way that Apple has re-invigorated the smartphone world. To me, iPhone and Android look like today - they capture the best of what was already forming all those years back. But I'm still waiting for something that looks like tomorrow, and I have a suspicion that neither Apple nor Google has the vision for the jump from lean and useable touch OS to something truly new.
I'll stick with my Psion, thanks.