[NTLK] Announcing Leibniz

Steve White stepwhite at gmail.com
Sat Feb 18 17:54:10 EST 2017

Leibniz is an emulator for the Runt based Newtons – OMP, MessagePad 110/120/130, Motorola Marco, Sharp ExpertPad, and even the NuBus ARMistice boards.

It isn’t meant to compete with Einstein.  As I see it, Einstein has an eye towards the future, whereas Leibniz is firmly rooted in the past. 

My primary motivation in creating Leibniz was to emulate two pre-production Newtons I have – a pre-release Newton Notepad, and a ROM image used with the ARMistice NuBus board. However all of the Runt devices are very similar, so it ends up being able to run able to run a total of nine ROM images I’ve dumped.

For it’s primary purpose, I think the two systems are interesting for Newton aficionados. And that’s why I created this — so others could experience them, without me having to ship a IIci or Notepad around.

The ARMistice image contains a lot of logging, so you get to see neat things logged to it’s standard out and WallyScript windows, as can be seen here:


As a comparison to it’s original environment, a Mac Iici with the ARMistice NuBus board and Egger software:


The ARMistice image also has what I’ve nick-named a “debug drawer”.  In the lower left corner of the extras drawer, there’s a little quarter-circle:


Clicking on that reveals a new drawer:


Lots of fun things in there.

For the Newton Notepad image, it’s splash screen says “C O N F I D E N T I A L”, which amuses me.  But more importantly the ROM has a built-in “Guided Tour”, which shows a Newton UI that is subtly different than what shipped. It has a built in “Game”, handwriting recognition meets the classic Snake game? This was new to me, but I admittedly have never seen the “Getting Started” PCMCIA card that shipped.   And some icons & text in the Extras drawer differ from what shipped.  It does a minimal amount of logging to it’s standard out.    

As well as running Newton OS, it’s able to run the diagnostics that was built in to all of the ROMs.  This can be checked out by using the “Hardware” menu in Leibniz, and picking “Diagnostics Reboot”.  I know Lindy diagnostics has been documented before, but the diagnostics on the OMP seems relatively undocumented.  I only learned of it a couple of years ago due to the “OMPRepairManual.pdf”, and as some list members may remember, actually utilized this to dump my first batch of ROMs (Notepad, OMP 1.3).

Leibniz is available for download, complete with (crummy) source code from:


As stated earlier, I’ve been able to successfully run a total of 9 ROM images with Leibniz.  The other seven are:

1) OMP v1.0
2) OMP v1.3
3) Sharp ExpertPad v1.05
4) MessagePad 110 v1.2
5) MessagePad 120 v1.3
6) MessagePad 130 v2.0
7) Motorola Marco v1.3

(Download links for all nine ROMs are on the Leibniz github page)

ROM dumping on the v1.x devices was a mystery to me.  To the best of my knowledge, third party native code wasn’t supported until v2.0.  This eliminated being able to run Paul Guyot’s ROM dumper.  Hammer and Newtsbug wouldn’t work with v1.x.  And my previous method utilized diagnostics mode’s “Memory Dump and Edit”, but it’s fairly agonizing to do, wasn’t something I could easily have other people do, and Lindy diagnostics no longer had this screen.

I had been intrigued for some time with an “easter egg” in the v1.x software, where in the Extras drawer you tap the top right, followed by the top left, and you’re presented with a sheet with three options, one labelled “Serial debugger”. About a year ago I set out to figure this out – and was able to, especially thanks to some old information from philz.  Effectively the underlying protocol is the same as what Hammer and Newtsbug uses, it just lacks the “frame encapsulation”.  

Armed with this knowledge, I forked Steven Frank’s NewTen to add ROM dumping capabilities for both v1.x and v2.x devices.  All you need is a serial connection to the Newton, and it’ll walk you through the rest.  This is available from:


If you have a Runt based Newton running a different version than the 7 listed above, I’d very much appreciate if you could dump the ROM from it.  Partially from a preservation aspect, and partially to see if it’ll run under Leibniz.

And if you happen to have ROMs for the NuBus boards, I’d really love to see those.  


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