I first heard of the Newton in summer of 1998, but was steered off into the Palm camp before I could learn more about the Newton. I also tried out an HPC device, and even a Rex. I never found any to be truly satisfying, however.
Then, in January 2001, I started thinking about Newton again. I found some Newton related web sites, and started researching. I did like the built-in keyboard on the Sharp Mobilon, so I was drawn to the eMate 300. After some time on eBay, I had an eMate in my hands.
I had purchased it online, without ever having seen one in real life, only pictures. I envisioned something that would fit in my purse. Nope. I needed something smaller, purse-sized, so I did some more research.
My second foray into Newtonia led me to the Message Pad 2100. This was the last best Newton, and even today, is the King of the PDA scene in my opinion. With it’s two PCMCIA slots, 162 MHz StrongARM processor, it is fast and powerful. Unlike todays ‘modern’ PDA’s, the Newton uses Flash memory for internal storage. Take the batteries out for an hour, a day, a year, and your information is secure.
Since then, I have been learning more about my new green friend. There is a wonderful community out there, on Newton Talk a mail-list with over 1200 Newton users. Lots ofgreat websites out there, too. Lots of information. I’ve had my Newtons taken apart, tinkered with their insides, and learned to write some simple software for them.
A Sad Day
On November 5th, 2002, tragedy struck, and it hit my Newton right in the screen. I was very sad. To commemorate this terrible event, here is a scan of the shattered screen.
Thanks to everyone on NewtonTalk for advice and suggestions and assistance. I was able to get a backup of all my data out of the broken Newton, and then undertook a 2 hour ‘surgical’ proceedure in which I dismantled the injured MP2100 to it’s barest components, then repeated the process with my back-up MP2000. I was able to use the intact screen of the MP2000, the backlight element from the MP2100 (which was brighter), and re-assembled my MP2100 again back to health.
Perhaps most amazing, was that at the end of the process – which had seen the MP2100 down to just a bare circuit board for over an hour – not only was all my data still intact, but the date was still set and the clock had only lost 30 minutes! Hooray for Newton!
At the beginning of 2005, my career took a significant shift into a new direction. The new direction had new requirements and demands which, sadly, my beloved Newton has been unable to completely fill. Also, to be honest, after some 5 years or so, Newton and I were probably ready for a little time apart.
No, I haven’t gone over to the Dark Side of Palm, or of WinCE (or whatever it’s called these days). I don’t know what it is about the older, vintage technology but it just works and works well. So, for now at least, my 1997-era technology has been replaced by 1994-era technology: Currently my PDA / backup brain is an HP 200LX Palmtop computer. It runs MS DOS and is basically a PC-XT that runs on 2 AA batteries.
As of October 2005, I have to say, I think my Newton has been retired. The last of my data has been copied onto the LX200 and I haven’t had a need to fire up my MP2100 since August. Until further notice, development on this site and any of my Newton software and hardware has been suspended.
It was a good run, and my MP2100 never let me down. Newton still kicks Palm and WinCE ass!
Update: As of February 2009, the HP Palmtop has been retired, replaced by an iPod Touch – in some ways, it’s my updated Newton…