Newton MessagePad 100

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The original Newton MessagePad was the result of the Newton team, comprising of Steve Capps, Walter Smith, Michael Tchao, Gaston Bastiaens, John Sculley, and several others. It was released at the Macworld Expo in Boston on August 3, 1993. It would be the first in a new line of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). The MessagePad was a welcome addition to Apple's Personal Interactive Electronics Division (PIE), as the first pen-based system using the Newton Intelligence OS. The main capabilities of the device was its communications and organizational features. The MP could fax messages and send e-mail, had applications to organize names, dates, phone numbers, etc., and could supposedly read and recognize handwritten words on the screen. Apple touted that one could write "Lunch with Bob tomorrow" on the screen, the MP would fill out a meeting form with the last-accessed person named Bob, tomorrow's date, and the lunch hour. This impressed several first. Unfortunately, the "kinks" had not been worked out of the handwriting recognition engine, which gave often peculiar interpretations of the words that were written down. This defect made headlines, and the MP became yet another ungraceful flop for Apple. It was an extraordinary machine though, like all of Apple's flops, that was released just too early (again like all Apple flops). The MP had many features; an infrared port that could relay information between MPs, ability to print to serial and parallel printers, receive and store wireless paging messages with the optional Newton Messaging Card, share files with both Wintel and Mac computers, and use fax, e-mail, and online services with optional 9600 baud fax modem. It was about half the size of a regular sheet of paper (7.25 in. x 4.5 inches) and weighed less than a pound (0.9 lbs).

Code Names: Newton was the original code name.

Processor: ARM 610 processor running at 20 MHz.
Memory: 640k RAM and 4 MB ROM.
Display: reflective LCD display has a resolution of 336x240 in black & white.
Expansion: It has one PCMCIA Type II card slot
Ports: LocalTalk compatible serial port, as well as a low-power, half-duplex, infrared transceiver that transmits at 9600 baud at 1 meter.
Battery: Uses 6V AAA alkaline batteries which last 14 hours, and a 4.8V NiCd battery which lasts 4 hours.

Operating Systems: Newton Intelligence OS, versions 1.0 and 1.1.

Interesting Facts:
The Newton MP was made infamous in a series of "Doonesbury" comic strips by Gary Trudeau. Characters in the strip would find that the MP found very weird interpretations for the words they had written. Trudeau had never actually seen an MP, and some say he caused the machine to be doomed to failure. Trudeau later apologized for the event. I think the Apple community was a little hard on Trudeau though, since he often criticizes Windows 95 in favor of the Mac in his strips, and he didn't say anything that wasn't true at the time.

Gaston Bastiaens, Vice President and General Manager of PIE supposedly made a very public "bet" with a member of the Press that the Newton would be released at Macworld Boston '93 or he would give up his wine cellar. Since Bastiaens adored his wine cellar, the Newton was released premature (in regular Apple fashion) to the public. It was later called "the grand public beta test".

Resources and Related Links:
Thanks go to the excellent Newton Gallery for the information and pictures.
Apple Tech Info Library & Apple Education products.