Weekly Poll: Did You Ever Use a Newton?

The first Mac I ever used was a Bondi blue iMac G3 at a friend’s house sometime in ’99, though I don’t remember much about the experience other than admiring the translucent case. Months later, though, I began using an Apple product on a daily basis: a Newton MessagePad 100, given to me by an uncle after the company he worked for decommissioned them.

It ate AAA batteries and weighed a ton, but it was a rather cool device to play with even without internet or new apps. I wrote a journal (turning off the writing detection) and used it for keeping a calendar, and messed around with every menu and dialog in the system, discovering a hidden temperature indicator in the process. Sadly, it got stolen from our house several years ago, so I don’t have it around.

The best part of having a Newton was discovering little Newton things years later in Apple’s later projects. The trash animation in the Notes app on iOS looks just like the trash animation when throwing away a note on the Newton. Plus, the smoke puff when removing an icon from your OS X dock looks just like the delete animation on the Newton when you drew a w type squiggle over anything on a note.

Did you ever get to use a Newton? Have you found yourself looking for Newton features in other Apple products? Or do you wish you could have tried one out? We’d love to hear any Newton stories you have in the comments below!

  • Winter

    I got to use a virtual Newton in a windows game version of X Files. From what I could “see” It must have been pretty cool. I wish I would have had a Newton back then instead of the Palm Pilot.

  • http://neuromancer.hu n.

    well, i vote for the first choice, but that doesn’t cover the whole truth… i never used a Newton when they were an “active product”, in fact, only a few has ever been (and is now) in my country… but I did use them in the last ten years, in fact, now i do own several of them including an eMate :)

  • http://www.pobox.com/~meta/ mathew

    I had a Newton. It was pretty awesome, and I was so angry when Steve killed the product. I wish Apple had come up with something to replace it. Instead I ended up getting an Android phone.

  • mp2kuser

    I bought a secondhand Newt a few years ago, and still use it (notes and e-books mostly). For its reputation, the handwriting system is amazing–it reads words that a human would have guessed wrong, and actually seems to get better the quicker and sloppier I scrawl!

    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Interesting. I actually had Graffiti for Newton on a memory card (a 2MB PCMCI card), and got quite proficient at using it. But Newton’s handwriting recognition was far better than most gave it credit for.

  • http://morrick.me Riccardo Mori

    I’ve answered “Yup, I owned one”, but the longer answer is that I _still_ use it, and I _still_ own more than one. I’ve been a Newton user for the past 11 years after purchasing a second-hand MessagePad 2000 in 2001. I use it mostly for note-taking and word processing on the go, but it’s also set up to check email, feeds, and I make heavy use of the calendar and the address book. There is also the occasional ebook and chess game. I currently own the MessagePad 2000 that started it all, another MessagePad 2100, an Original MessagePad H1000 model, and an eMate 300.


    • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

      Wait: you have internet on it? Mine had a dial-up modem PCMCI card, but I never used it…

      • http://morrick.me Riccardo Mori

        Yes, I occasionally hook the Newton to the Internet via Ethernet or Bluetooth (my Power Mac G4 Cube shares the connection.)


        • http://techinch.com/ Matthew Guay

          Ah, I see. Neat!

  • jan stoltenhoff

    … i’m still using it! i’ve got an iphone too,
    but just for advantage of being smaller
    and the twitter-client :-)

  • Lord Groundhog

    Plainly, you needed a 4th option: “I still use a Newton/Newtons”. :-) I came late to the party, after Apple discontinued then, but my set of 2000s and 2100s are indispensable now. They do what I want better than any other gadget I own, and the HWR is a delight of efficiencyand convenience.

    Want to steal my computers and smart phone? Yeah, whatever. Want to steal my Newtons? “…out of my cold, dead hands”.

  • Nic Malone

    I’d use mine at work t keep track of the who, what, why, which of projects with the still unrivalled MoreInfo. I wish Silverware Software would do an iPhone/iPad version.