[NTLK] Random historical thoughts...

From: Maurice Sharp <msharp_at_mac.com>
Date: Mon Nov 06 2006 - 14:59:18 EST

Hi folks,

Wow, I got some quick responses, and all asking for history... I will
do some random bits now and do something more thoughtful later...

I started in the Newton group around July or August of 1992 as an
Intern. I was an intern with the Advanced Technology Group and
looking to extend my stay... Larry Tessler (then in charge of
Newton), asked me to build the Newton Toolkit using Macintosh Common
LISP. I built the prototype of the tool that was used for all the
early third party developers... the prototype also heavily influenced
the shipping tool (written in C++)

As that internship was drawing to a close, I ended up getting a full
time job in Newton DTS (Developer Tech Support.) I would eventually
manage that team. I left in 1997, about 6 months before Newton was
officially killed (though it was already dead.) I ended up at Palm,
when they were about 150 people (but that is a different story.)
While in DTS, I was "Dr. Llama", the person who wrote up or bugged
others to answer questions for the Mac developer magazine, then in
the Newton developer info.

Newton was a great place to be for a lot of the time. We knew we were
working on a new kind of device, something that could change how
people worked and played. We also like having fun... a few
examples... One of the people in DTS could buy Silly Putty in bulk.
He asked people if they were interested, and how much they wanted.
The result was receiving 2 50lb bricks of Silly Putty.... Standing on
silly putty is the weirdest feeling! And have you ever tried to cut a
50lb block of silly putty into 1-5lb pieces... quite a challenge, and
very messy if you do it the wrong way. I have a video about that
somewhere. The other video I created was called Modeminos (did a
quick Google search, and it looks like someone has posted it: <http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=teW7a8lOwYY>) That happened when we ended up
with a 4,000 extra modems and an email asking if anyone wanted one.
The other thing I remember is the DTS group doing skits at every
developer conference (I was usually the instigator.)

I remember working with the prototypes of the MP100. In the early
days we had math recognition in there as well... unfortunately the
engineer who wrote that ended up having a child and could not be
there to fix bugs... I do have a prototype MessagePad (called NotePad
back then) that has a beta build... I will have to check if math
recognition is still working.

I remember the run up to the OMP release... we declared alpha, we
declared beta, we declared alpha again, and then Baston said "Ship
It"... and we did. The intro was lots of fun as well... and the
reception was interesting, even with "Egg Freckles" I also remember
the 110, we did a production run with clear cases that turned out to
be not quite right... those become the thank you's for the people who
worked on "Lindy" I still have mine.

I do remember the constant back and forth between marketing and
engineering. Engineering thought smaller was better, marketing wanted
bigger (think pen interface/tablet size.) One interesting skunkworks
project was to get it really small. Some company had released
something called the Pilot... some enterprising engineers got ahold
of one, gutted it, and built a functional Newton inside... it was
considered too small. History may have been different (though the
cost of a Newton that size would have been considerably more than the
Pilot ever was.) I would guess that one-off still exists somewhere.

My fondest memory was soon after we released. We wanted to get a lot
of developers trained, so my manager (and great friend and mentor)
Gabriel Acosta-Mikulasek (was Acosta-Lopez), put together a 1 week
training course with DTS... during the summer we ran that course 6
times in a row... 6 weeks of training developers at about 30 odd a
class. Exhausting but very fun. We had some really great third party
developers for Newton... some of whom are still around doing Palm OS

That's all for now... if you have specific questions, I could do my
best to answer.

Maurice Sharp

This is the NewtonTalk list - http://www.newtontalk.net/ for all inquiries
Official Newton FAQ: http://www.chuma.org/newton/faq/
WikiWikiNewt for all kinds of articles: http://tools.unna.org/wikiwikinewt/
Received on Mon Nov 6 14:59:23 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Nov 07 2006 - 06:30:00 EST