Apple first introduced their portable personal computing device with the Newton Original Message Pad or Newton OMP.
The first model was a large PDA and the home screen looks similar to the iPhone. There were rows and columns of applications with the bottom reserved for navigation and built in programs like calander and mail.
The killer feature it had over other PDAs was hand writing recognition. Apple thought the Newton could replace a paper diary and organiser for taking notes in lectures or meetings and managing time.
As it turned out, the handwriting recognition software was not quite ready to hit the market. This was quickly fixed in subsequent models. Apple continued introducing upgraded models including an education model called the eMate which looked like a laptop and ended the line in 1997 with the Newton Messagepad 2100.
In a market with lower cost and smaller devices like the Palm Pilot and the fiaso of the poor handwriting recognition during launch etched in consumer minds, Apple pulled the plug on the Newton with a minority group who love their Newtons petitioning against the decision.
Before the news to discontinue the Newton Messagepad, I was in the midst of moving to a new place. The timing of the move also meant a 6 month stay in a rental apartment before the new place was ready.
My main computing device was an aging 486DX running windows 95. I had seriously considered switching to using a Newton MP 2100. It would take up less space and be easier to move instead of the bulky CRT and CPU.
The Newton was available with the option of an external keyboard for input besides the on screen keyboard and hand writing recognition with a stylus. It could access email and web pages although the screen was monochrome. There were programs for word processing and other applications.
Since I hardly do any gaming, the Newton MP 2100 seemed to be all I needed for a computing device. A device the size of a paperback novel that could almost replace a desktop. Now that’s what I really consider a personal computer.
Many people first compared the Newton to the iPhone and iPod Touch. But we believe it is closer to the iPad.
Through advancement in technology, Apple has in a way brought back the Newton in the form of the iPad. Will the iPad be a success or fade into technology heaven like the Newton?
The key reason we believe it will be a success is because the technology and also consumers are ready for such a product.
Millions of people have used the multitouch interface on the iPhone and iPod Touch and Apple was able to thoroughly improve and test the software implementation. These devices were also at a lower price bracket which was within reach to most consumers. After people are familier with how to use it, they will find it easier to buy and use an iPad.
In the past with the Newton, applications had to be installed from a computer. Today with iTunes and the App Store, the iPad can connect directly to the Internet and download programs and more importantly access the wealth of music, videos and news. It’s this ease of use that will make the iPad ride the wave created by the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Since I already have an iPhone and no iPod Touch, the iPad is on my list of gadgets to buy. In fact, I have already found myself relying more on my iPhone to check emails, facebook and update blogs than on my MacBook. With 9 hours spent almost continually in front of the computer, I just want to chill out on my sofa and watch some TV when I get home. With VNC installed on the iPad it could also access my MacBook to do stuff that the iPad can not handle all from the comfort of my couch.
Got to start saving up for the iPad.