[NTLK] iPhone is not the new Newton (was Re: New members)

Mark Rollins mark at mrollins.com
Sat Dec 26 17:31:38 EST 2009

I'd have to dissent on this opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I had used a Newton since "day 2" and over the  
years enjoyed it a lot, finally closing the chapter around 2004 with  
an MP2000 (upgraded) with a Dr. Newton brand serial plug modification.

I had fun using, exploring and learning, whether it be one of the  
first to find the hidden setup menu on the OMP, to getting the eMate  
"how to" books released as free PDFs, to trying to get Dragon released  
as unsupported freeware (came as close to emailing the owners of  
Dragon who had just sold Dragon to L&H; a bit of Newtrivia, Dragon was  
originally in Newton MA!). Although it wasn't me who released Steven  
King's "Riding the Bullet" as Newton book (as that would be copyright  
infringement). To this day I still enjoy occasionally dusting the  
Newton off to show my sons' friends or to bring to work; many people  
can't believe how advanced it was, for the time it came out.

Anyway, let me summarize what I see as the Newton's strength's and  

The Newton had at the time quire a respectable hardware setup; 160  
mHz, 2 PC card slots, 4 (or more ) MB or RAM. It had a long battery  
life, great user interface, and handwriting recognition. There were a  
good library of applications, as well as a way to make e-books  
available. You could record audio and email it to someone. With the  
proper data connection, the Newton could browse the Web, send email,  
and access certain documents on a server. There was a keyboard option  
which helped text entry, and with a network or IR connection the  
Newton could print. The screen could rotate manually for portrait or  

The Newton had some negative aspects. Price was high, I think I paid  
$1,000 for an MP2000, which is like $1,300 adjusted for inflation the  
year the 3G iPhone came out. The synch software had issues, on the Mac  
it worked fairly well, on the PC (as it was a subcontracted job)  
didn't work well. There was no GPS nor wireless communication built-in  
(save IR) so all this was done with battery-sapping cards (see http://www.mrollins.com/newtmerlin.html 
  - I didn't put "Warning - Warning -Warning -Warning" without good  
reason). There was no camera on the Newton, no color screen (although  
you could connect one). There was also a lack of "business" apps, be  
it Document to go, a PDF reader; heck, even FileMaker only had a demo  
working by the time the Newton was killed.

It is great to speculate what the Newton c. 2008 would have been (from  
1994 - http://www.mrollins.com/Images/futNewt.gif) but suffice to say  
that ship has sailed.

The iPhone is a 3G world phone, with WiFi and (limited) BlueTooth, at  
least 8 Gigabytes of storage, a color camera, and a color screen that  
eschews the use of a stylus; it also costs like $99 on up with carrier  
subsidy. The iPhone isn't perfect (the 3G is pretty close) but like me  
skipping from the OMP (upgraded) to the MP2000, I am assuming there's  
something that will blow away the capabilities of the 3G (S) on the  

First of all, the sync via iTunes seems to work very well (I am  
speaking here of iPhone OS3, compared to Newt  OS 2; I saw demos of  
Newt OS 3 and except for color support there was not much different).  
There's support for true Corporate email via ActiveSync ( through WiFi  
on the iPod Touch or that plus cell data on the iPhone). The iPhone  
does not need many apps to deal with data, as you can read email  
attachments as varied as PDF, JPG, RTF, XLS, even DOCx are supported.  
And certainly better than a Blackberry! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/opusmark/2678624578/ 
). There are a lot of business apps for the iPhone, from Documents to  
Go to PocketMoney (yes of Newton fame) to FMTouch for FileMaker  
databases. There's Dragon, as well as several e-book readers, a SLM  
for me works well, along with a lot of business specific apps as well  
as games.

The aspects about the iPhone that I do not like are that the battery  
life is limited. I get about 8-12 hours out of mine before below 10%  
charge. Fortunately the iPhone/iPod connector is ubiquitous - I've  
even charged mine in a pub on the Isle of Man! The iPhone is also more  
fragile that the Newton, I know that "back in the day" I had dropped  
mine several times with no damage; the screen cover helped. The iPhone  
really needs a tough case if you travel at all. The iPhone also  
suffers from what I call Apple's "128k-itis" - as the original Mac had  
128K of RAM, so why did the Newton have 170K of "heap" memory (of 4  
MB) and the iPhone 3G have 128 MB of RAM; sure it's 128 megabytes but  
this in on a platform with 8 GIGAbytes on up, so why not more?  Some  
may not like AT&T in the US, but I have had coverage no matter where I  
am (http://www.flickr.com/photos/opusmark/4096971890/) and I know many  
associates who call my office from a Verizon phone only to have it  
drop out. There is limited BlueTooth usability, fortunately this and  
other shortcomings are ameliorated by "jailbreaking".

One big criticism is Apple's view that nothing should "patch " the OS,  
to guarantee stability. While I agree with this (the iPhone is the  
most stable device I have ever used) it does limit a lot of things one  
COULD do. Fortunately there is "jailbreaking" (unlocking the  
underlying file structure). Why I jailbreak my iPhone.
I want Google Voice. (GV Mobile)
I want to be able to record video on my ancient iPhone 3G.  
(iPhoneVideoRecorder, although there is now an App for that)
I want to be to be able to tether my iPhone 3G connection to my  
MacBook via BlueTooth (MyWi)
I want to be able to stream live video with sound (Bambuser, although  
there is now an App for that, the same one!)
I want themes themes themes (Winterboard)
I want to force apps - when appropriate - to run in the background  
I want to be able to simulate the quality of a 4 Mp camera (ClearCam)
I want 5 icons in the "Dock" (5 Icon Dock)
I want digital zoom and the option to select lighting type (e.g.  
fluorescent) for the camera (Snapture, although there is now an App  
for that, the same one!)
I want pictures to appear in the list of names, not just each  
individual entry (Cyntact)
I want to be able to download and save files from websites (Safari  
Download Manager)
I want to be able to email said files as attachments (iFile)

If you want the best analogy, your Newton 2100 is like a Tucker auto,  
a device too far ahead of its time to be appreciated, and corporate  
politics (in this case internal with Apple as opposed to external with  
GM & Ford) served to kill the device.

I love my Newton.

I use my iPhone every day.

Mark Lee Rollins

"exNewt" on iTunes


Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2009 09:33:48 +0000
From: Edward Kenworthy <edward at kenworthy.info>
Subject: [NTLK] iPhone is not the new Newton (was Re:  New members)
To: newtontalk at newtontalk.net
Message-ID: <D259EF92-20F3-4CCC-BD61-E7FD777B6D84 at kenworthy.info>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

I'd agree with that. My iPhone is basically an iPod with a (mediocre)  
'phone attached. Which suits me as I use my iPod a lot and my mobile  
phone hardly at all so it saves having two devices. But a descendent  
of the Newton it is not.

On 26 Dec 2009, at 03:36, dograt at earthlink.net wrote:

> On Dec 25, 2009, at 6:42 PM, George Japaridze wrote:
>> ??????????,
>> ??? ????? ????? ???,
>> ???????? ????????
>> ???????, ????????? ???? 2100.
> And can you imagine what a small, slim, green and capable powerhouse
> the Newt would be if development had continued in, say, an alternate
> universe?
> I've heard people say the iPhone is the Newt's soul incarnate, but I
> don't see that at all.
> dave

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