[NTLK] NewtonTalk Digest, Vol 74, Issue 13

Forrest newton_phoenix at mindspring.com
Sun Feb 16 16:29:28 EST 2020

Frank, well thought out as always.

The question that came to mind for me, though, was this: as a veteran of small devices in the 90s (like probably most of us here), did the Newton really fail us because of its poor synchronization qualities, or are these things we now take for granted, so the disappointment is in hindsight?

For example: I remember being in a hotel room in New Mexico in the mid 90s, hundreds of miles from home, and marveling that I could type a two-page fax on my Zaurus ZR-5800’s tiny keyboard and send it to my boss’s office fax in Phoenix through the phone line; I could also email (using ATTNet email at that time) the same way, and receive as well. These are of course the days before WiFi (at least, widespread) and cellular service (again, widespread and inexpensive). And, that I could write an email virtually anywhere and, when I got to a landline that I could plug into, sent it off and read new ones as well.

These were not qualities exclusive to the Zaurus—pretty much all PDAs during this time could do the same. The Zaurus benefited from a physical keyboard, and its RuppLynx desktop synchronization was excellent. But in just about everything else, the Newton was far superior.

Particularly since the arrival of the iPhone (and what has followed) we have come to expect uneventful synchronization of all our data. But this was not always the case.

In those days I really disliked the Palm, mostly I think because it did and had things other PDAs—like the Newton and Zaurus I owned—did not. Full color, great GUI. I guess I was jealous. It wasn’t until I got HP’s iPAQ rx3715 that I realized what all the Palm fuss was about.

It’s been said before and worth noting again how different manufacturers viewed the importance of various functions. The machines that “made it” got most of them right; those that did not—and the creators missed badly—failed. Sadly the MP2x00’s lack of color screen, its larger size, affordability and poor synchronization—again, compared to machines like the Palm—doomed an otherwise excellent device.


Sent from my T-Mobile iPhone 11

> On Feb 16, 2020, at 11:24 AM, NewtonTalk <newtontalk at pda-soft.de> wrote:
>> Yes, nice video. But he totally messed up the syncing part.
>> It is very easy to sync the Newton with newer macs. 
>> You just need a serial2usb. 
> Well, in my humble and admittedly unimportant opinion establishing a serial
> connection is the easiest part. Synchronization begins AFTER that. It has
> NEVER been easy to sync a Newton with ANY desktop computer. My personal
> definition of synchronization is that changes you made on the desktop,
> regardless of whether you made them in notes, to dos, dates or mails, are
> automatically transferred into the Newton and vice versa. Without having to
> jump through any loops during the process. The closest we ever came to that
> was when we were using the Newton Backup Utility (NBU), which unfortunately
> is Newton OS 1.x only. And even then not everything was synced.
> Buying and installing the software required to make Microsoft Outlook
> synchronize with my Palm Pilot took but a couple of seconds. After that it
> simply worked. At the push of a button. Calendar, dates, notes and mails
> were effortlessly synced on both machines. Every. Single. Time. It was so
> easy that I took to syncing two or three times a day at work. A long time
> ago, my Palm Pilot unexpectedly woke me early in the morning because my boss
> had changed the time for a meeting without telling me about the change.
> Compared to that, all that Apple ever provided for our Newtons felt like a
> pathetic attempt, not like a workable solution.
> The up side back then was that I hardly ever felt the need to synchronize
> anything. I always found it sufficient to back my Newtons up frequently to
> different cards. If ever I needed anything on my desktop, I put it in a note
> and either transferred it via NCU, which works as long as you stick to ASCII
> text, or I emailed it to myself.
> I always try to use the device that'll get the job done the fastest or most
> painless. Back then I was using a Palm Pilot, a Newton, a Mac OS computer, a
> Windows computer and a Linux computer. Apart from no longer using my Palm
> Pilot because their software refused to work on my last 64 bit PC, this
> hasn't changed.
> Frank
> -- Newton software and hardware at http://www.pda-soft.de
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