Feeds

Before the iPad, there was the Newton

MessagePad 120 – it didn't suck

High performance access to file storage

Take it off!

The MessagePad 120 is relatively straightforward to open up, either for simple repairs or just to satisfy nerdy curiosity — PDA Soft provides a clear set of take-apart instructions.

Back in the mid-1990's, however, snap-in wiring connections were more rare than they are today, so breaking an opened-up MessagePad 120 down into its constituent parts requires some soldering-iron dexterity, a skill I don't possess.

So here's my 120, merely opened up, and not fully disassembled — I didn't want to risk murdering my old friend.

Newton MessagePad 120 - inside

(click to enlarge)

Lying face down with its bottom removed, the battery bay (right) and PCMCIA card slot (left) dominate the MessagePad 120's main circuit board. Note that board-component spacing and layout is rather relaxed when compared to that of current handhelds.

Newton MessagePad 120 - ports (inside)

(click to enlarge)

Remember that DIN-8 serial port and speaker from a few pages back? Here they are again, en déshabille, flanking the MessagePad 120's seven-volt power input.

Newton MessagePad 120 - IR port (inside)

(click to enlarge)

The rear-facing infrared port uses a 1.5-by-1cm mirror to bounce the signal up to two horizontally mounted IR sensors and down from its one IR emitter.

Newton MessagePad 120 - ROM

(click to enlarge)

When running Newton OS 1.3, the MessagePad 120 had 4MB of ROM; when upgraded to OS 2.0, that ROM doubled to 8MB. These two Apple-branded chips, unlike any other of the 120's circuitry, ride on the handheld's bottom cover. I wouldn't bet my 'Pad on it, but my presumption is that they're the 120's OS-housing ROMs.

Newton MessagePad 120 - ROM sockets

(click to enlarge)

The two (ROM?) chips in the previous photo, mounted on the 120's case bottom, interface with the main circuit board mounted in the case top through the two sockets on the right and left of this photo.

Newton MessagePad 120 - recharger pads

(click to enlarge)

As mentioned above, Apple offered an optional NiCad Battery Pack for the MessagePad 120, which was charged through — what else? — an optional MessagePad 120 Charging Station, which was simply a dock into which you could slip your 'Pad or battery pack. Contact was made through two external pads, which then led through the bottom of the 120's case (left) and made contact with small pads on the the circuit board (right).

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.