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NewtonOS Running on Linux PDA

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the platforms-never-die dept.

Operating Systems 125

Seb Payne writes "At the WWNC 2006, Adam Tow has reported that Einstein, the NewtonOS emulator is now working on a Sharp Zaurus Linux PDA, showing future for our favourite green friend. Although it is not production quality, could this bring a future to the Newton platform?"

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In a word... (3, Insightful)

Seoulstriker (748895) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475494)

could this bring a future to the Newton platform?


Newton has long been dead.

Re:In a word... (2, Interesting)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475545)

You're absolutely correct. My initial reaction was, "what a waste of time". After thinking about it a little more (sometimes I think before I post, usually when I'm stuffing my face full of cereal) I realized while the outcome is useless, the process wasn't. The guy is now smarter and more experienced for having done the work. Who knows? At some point in his career he may be working on a new product and the experience gained from writing a Newton emulator will mean the difference between success and failure. All work doesn't have to have a point to be useful.

In this case, though, he solved the wrong problem. Instead of asking, "will a Newton run Linux?" he asked, "will Linux run a Newtown?" Maybe he's in Soviet Russia...

Re:In a word... (1)

yurigoul (658468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477559)

eh ... Adam Tow is experienced enough. He was one of the developers from day one on the Newton.

And although I do not use a Newton anymore I would probably choose good user experience over linux. (And would choose linux over Windows any day)

Re:In a word... (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475583)

from the platforms-never-die dept.

Appearently CmdrTaco thinks otherwise.

No? Are you sure? (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475584)

If apple brought the Newt back ( updated of course, and a bit more reasonably priced ) you would find lots of people would flock to buy them.

Not that i expect that ever to happen, but there is a market for the 'father' of the PDA to return too.

if you doubt me, ever try to find a used Newt? They still bring a relatively high price, as they are well loved by their owners.

Re:No? Are you sure? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475611)

if you doubt me, ever try to find a used Newt? They still bring a relatively high price, as they are well loved by their owners.

I did. I'm a new apple owner, just 18 months after switching, and had heard a great deal about newtons, and how awesome they could be. I just picked up a Trading Post, bought the cheapest 2100 I saw ($50 australian. More expensive than other PDAs from that era, but hardly high priced) and played with it.

I sold it on to a friend after several months trying to use it productively, finally realising it was just another piece of 90s era technology, through and through. Nothing really special I could see. It spent its last few months with me as a wireless web server

Updating... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475890)

I fully admit its old by todays standards. That is the reason i did say that updating would be needed if it was to be re-relased. Need to support modern networking, color, compatibility with current day mail systems, etc. It was/is a sound design, but hasnt been supported in many years so its bound to fall behind.

Even with the old ones however, there is still a die-hard fanbase. And the OS is *still* better then winCE. NewtOS was designed from the ground up to be on a PDA, unlike CE, which is more of a desktop OS shoehorned into your hand.

But i guess most of this is moot, we wont be seeing another Newt model come out.


Re:Updating... (1)

toomanyhandles (809578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478167)

I fully admit its old by todays standards. That is the reason i did say that updating would be needed if it was to be re-relased. Need to support modern networking, color, compatibility with current day mail systems, etc. It was/is a sound design, but hasnt been supported in many years so its bound to fall behind. Even with the old ones however, there is still a die-hard fanbase. And the OS is *still* better then winCE. NewtOS was designed from the ground up to be on a PDA, unlike CE, which is more of a desktop OS shoehorned into your hand. But i guess most of this is moot, we wont be seeing another Newt model come out.

huh? Getting the NewtonOS, with all its built-in tools, plus having hooks to modern hardware (wireless, form factors, batteries) WOULD BE basically having a modern Newton come out.

There are already Newton OS add-ons for OUtlook calender/email sync, etc- so you could have a nice tool, nice NewtonOS, and modern hardware all in one package, finally.

Re:Updating... (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478282)

If its not apple hardware, its not a newton.

Re:No? Are you sure? (1)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476000)

I think the amazing thing is that this now-ancient device could still be useful as a wireless web server, or anything else.

The Newton was WAY ahead of its time. It was bulky and ugly and difficult to use by today's standards - but god damn, that thing could do a lot.

Re:No? Are you sure? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477379)

I suspect the Ipod could be used to make inroads to the PDA market. Hell, it already has the memory, hard drive and screen. It just needs a stylus and perhaps 2 bootup modes.

In any case, the hardware isn't too far away what's needed, it would be the software (Ipod OS) that needed to be developed....

Hummmm (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475862)

I have heard over and over that *nix is dead as well. And yet, it keeps growing. I suspect that Apple may bring this back in combination with ipod to take over the wince market.

first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475917)

first post

Re:Hummmm (1)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477176)

I wouldn't compare *nix to newton.

Re:In a word... (5, Interesting)

feijai (898706) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475887)

The things they mod 5:insightful these days.

If you don't mind, allow me (a former Newton developer, and current computer science professor) to provide a slightly more informed take on the situation.

The reason everyone in the Newton community is excited about the emulator is not that it enables us to revive our Newtons, but that it gives us an easy migration mechanism. Newton owners have been frustrated as hell with the god-awful interfaces running on current PDAs. PalmOS is astonishingly profoundly primitive. And PocketPC is just about the worst interface I have ever seen on a platform. Generally it takes about twice to three times as many pen interactions to get a given action performed on the PocketPC as it does on the Newton.

I've used them all. A lot. And the Newton 2.1 OS is hands down the best PDA interface. And let's not kid ourselves: there still isn't a handwriting recognition system available that's as good as Rosetta. And the Newton UI is built around handwriting as a text entry mechanism along with a keyboard, unlike Palm and WinCE's traditional (and bad) character-entry-only event mechanism. And the Newton is fast. The MessagePad 2000 ran on a 167MHz StrongARM (predecessor to the XScale) in 1997.

So Newton users are stuck with a great but aging OS trapped inside hardware that is breaking down and falling apart. Most of us have FrankenNewtons at this stage. What the emulator will do is allow us to move our environments to a new PDA and still be able to use our old software, data, and UI, while using the new PDA's OS for new things. That's a big deal.

Plus, I might add, Einstein makes for a nice development environment.

Re:In a word... (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476086)

I was with you for most of the post, then you mentioned that there's no hand-writing recognition better than Rosetta? I'm assuming thats the one that was built into Newton? I'm sorry, but I've tried the Newton, and it's hand-writing recognition is no way near the league of modern day devices (My experience would be coming from the P910).

Re:In a word... (2, Interesting)

yppiz (574466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476679)

The early Newton MessagePads had bad handwriting recognition, in large part because the CPUs in these machines were too wimpy.

By the MessagePad 2000 and 2100, however, handwriting recognition was excellent. I used to use one of these machines to take notes in meetings, and I could write fairly smoothly in my normal handwriting (a mix of cursive and print) and get decent performance.

I have since tried several iterations of PocketPCs and Palms and, still, eight years after the MessagePad 2000 was introduced, I haven't found a handheld that equals it in this respect.


Re:In a word... (3, Informative)

amper (33785) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477207)

Actually, it wasn't so much the CPU power, but the lack of available memory to store a large enough dictionary for the recognition engine. The early versions had a 10,000 word dictionary. The later versions increased this to 93,000 words. This, coupled with faster processors and a new recognition engine are what enabled the MessagePad 2100 to have a quite usable experience--but it was primarily the larger dictionary that did the trick.

Re:In a word... (1)

yppiz (574466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477464)

Thanks for the clarification -- I thought the CPU was the big factor (I was dimly recalling a conversation with one of the three creators of the Rosetta software.)


Re:In a word... (2, Interesting)

junkgui (69602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477984)

I'm not sure if the handwriting recognition was signifigantly better on NewtonOS then it is in todays iterations, such as windows tablet edition... but one thing is certain the applications/OS that windowsCE/PocketPC/windows tablet edition used isn't built around using a stylus. The gui is a traditional mouse gui with a small screen and a single clieck (for the most part) interface. Newtons were built to be written on, you could draw graphics that would be recognized as vectors and then move the handles around, write anywhere, just tap to put the carrot down and start writing, much cleaner, much better then calligraphy, and fully integrated. I think pocketpc was designed to make porting desktop apps possible (although pocket word is no word). NewtonOS reminds me more of squeek (the smalltalk platform) or hypercard or opendoc where applications can mix and match peices together in a neat notpad like gui. I really wish that there was a newton like pda with a built in IDE, with ruby like syntax... I can imagine coding up software on the fly to do little things for me, but I digress. None the less newton OS was really cool, I wish there was something like it today because I would buy it...

Re:In a word... (2, Interesting)

glebd (586769) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476943)

You must have tried an early Newton, because the HW recognition on 2100 beats P910 (or anything else, for that matter) hands down. Compare clunky character-by-character Jot recogniser of P910 and new Palms with Rosetta on 2100 where you just write words wherever you want them to be recognised, not in just some area specially designated for writing. And the ancient thing learns your way to write!

Re:In a word... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14476339)

Finally! An informed answer.

As an electical engineer, I can tell you the Newton was the BEST PDA to have ever been. I managed an entire project from the Newton, and people were astonished I was pretty much a one-man band, because of all I kept up with, and the speed with which I was able to recall information about the most minute of details I had recorded in the Newton. People have often panned the Newton for poor handwriting recognition, but this was because they did not TRAIN the Newton to understand their handwriting, as they write when in a hurry, as in taking notes in a meeting. The Newton died due to the naivity of the users who didn't train it the way they were supposed to, and all the bad press that the people who didn't know (let's call them the agnostics) the proper way to use such an advanced tool.

The "soup" relational database was pure genious! My hat is off to the creative people at Apple who developed the back end, and front-end interfaces. They were easy to use, and consistently provided useful extractions of the data for which I searched.

The Newton was well before its time. I hope Apple will resurrect the Newton, freshened with a color interface (look at the portable Sony Playstation- wouldn't that be a fine platform?). There is not a PDA in current production that holds a candle to the Newton's functionality. If you want a playtoy, by a Palm or a WinCE device. If you want a tool to get work done efficiently, the Newton was and still is, the only way to go.

Re:In a word... (1)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477821)

The Newton died due to the naivity of the users who didn't train it the way they were supposed to, and all the bad press that the people who didn't know (let's call them the agnostics) the proper way to use such an advanced tool.
no, i imagine that the Newton died because you couldn't take the time to train it in the store, so it looked to any prospective buyer as though the handwriting recognition was always going to be bad. i remember spending 5 minutes trying to write my name to no avail, because it always interpretted an m as rn no matter how i wrote it.

Re:In a word... (1)

orthogonal (588627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476941)

And the Newton 2.1 OS is hands down the best PDA interface

Ok, professor, I own a Zaurus, I've written some code for it, I've read ebooks on it, I've even commented to slashdot on it.

What makes the Newton interface so much better? Can you point me to a site or sites that explains this?

I'm convincable; convince me. ;)


Re:In a word... (1)

spiderbitendeath (577712) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477698)

The Newton interface is easy to use, easy to learn. The soup database can be searched from any program to find anything that relates to what you are searching for. If you want to copy and paste something from one program to another, it's a simple draw circle around it, drag it over to other program. The handwriting recognition when setup properly makes it easy to enter information into the system. Also, with the assist button, tasks such as setting up an appointment in the date book is as easy as saying, "Lunch Friday with Bob". Newton will open the dates program, set it up for the next Friday at noon as lunch with Bob. Something I find that's neat, though not important, is with MacinTalk, if my eyes are bothering me and not in the mood to try to read cause of it, I can have the Newton read to me. Just click the menu and select Speak Text. It's a system that would really have to be experienced to properly appreciate it... much like using a Macintosh.

Re:In a word... (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477038)

I'm confused. Is Einstein a hardware emulator for the ARM CPU and Newton hardware (vaguely similar to, say, arcem [] ), which requires a copy of the Newton ROM image to run?

Or is it something like Wine, a reimplementation of the Newton OS letting you run existing apps, but only on ARM hardware?

Unless there is work happening on a free reimplementation of the Newton OS, I'd say the platform is pretty much dead.

Re:In a word... (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477111)

Newton fell off the Apple tree a long time ago for a reason - consolodation of product lines for higher profitability. Is there any chance in hades that Newton would get a renewed? Sure would have made a a great cell phone platform!

Re:In a word... (1)

akac (571059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478377)

You do realize the Newton's handwriting recognition was not built by Apple but by a company that later released that SAME exact code for the Pocket PC which was then licensed as "Transcriber" and also as a commercial app called "Calligrapher" from

And since then its been refined and improved dramatically. But its the same engine deep down inside. So if you're using a Pocket PC today and using Calligrapher, you are getting the same engine as the Newton for HWR, but better.

Granted the UI on the Newton is still the best.

Re:In a word... (1)

roard (661272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478485)

Actually, it's not completely true. The first HWR engine was, indeed, from that russian company that does calligrapher now. But there was another HWR engine on NewtonOS 2.0 that was developped in-house at apple (you can choose which one you want). It works wonderfully, and many people talks about this one, not the original calligrapher one.

Mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14476813)

Someone please mod the parent down. Even if moderators believe it is correct (which is debunked in replies), it is certainly not "insightful" to say "nuh uh".

Zaurus sucks (0, Flamebait)

(TK)Dessimat0r (668222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475502)

Thanks for telling me to buy one, Lunix faggots. My Tapwave Zodiac 2 is 1000x better.

Gravity (2, Funny)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475503)

So will anyone make any droll jokes about Newton and Apples?

Re:Gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475529)

You can now Eat up Martha on your Zaurus. Whee!

Re:Gravity (2, Funny)

David Horn (772985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475785)

I think you've underestimated the gravity of the situation.

Re:Gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475939)

how about, did newton drop the apple, or did apple drop the newton?

dose an apple dropping a newton propose a theory of anti-gravity?

if isac newton was sitting under a fig tree, would we be making jokes about fig newtons instead of apple and newton?

No (3, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475504)

Although it is not production quality, could this bring a future to the Newton platform?

No, I see no reason why emulating an OS under Linux on a PDA would bring that platform a future. I think that the best thing to do would be to incorporate those features that you liked from the Newton into an existing platform, rather than emulating it under Linux on a Zaurus, which seems more like a "fun and geeky thing to do" than a practical solution to anything.

Re:No (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475552)

No, I see no reason why emulating an OS under Linux on a PDA would bring that platform a future.

Ah, but what if you could get NewtonOS to run Linux in a VM? I hear this Linux stuff is the wave of the future.

I see systems, inside of systems, inside of systems, inside of . . .

You don't think maybe they were right about that brown acid, do you?


Re:No (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475560)

There's a big difference between a VM and emulation. I think that virtual machine monitors and their associated virtues are the future. I just don't see what that has to do with this (because it has nothing to do with it :-) )

Re:No (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475634)

Wow, I was sleepy when I posted that. I thought that you were suggesting that Linux run NewtonOS in a VM, which made more sense than emulating it if you were going to do it all of the time, but still, not a lot of a point.

Hmmm. (-1, Redundant)

hungrygrue (872970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475509)

could this bring a future to the Newton platform?
Well, No. Next question?

Newton (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475525)

But Steve Jobs hates NewtonOS. NewtonOS must die!!!

Odd Obsession? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475540)

Why some people is so obsessed reviving old (if it's not dead) technology? I'm just out from my desperation for hope the continuity of BeOS. I think mainstream public project such as Linux based or FreeBSD have better future than expecting a future from a dead or dying OS(es) other than for the sake of nostalgia. If the hardware dead, it's dead man. get an iPod if you're obsessed with everything apple (yeah I know, no input possible, so it's not a pda replacement)

Re:Odd Obsession? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475640)

Not all dead hardware/software is equivalent.

Newton was laughed at by quite a lot of people (all those "eat up martha" jokes are popping up already i see), but the people who DID use it before it got canned love it for a reason. there is stuff Newton did that neither PocketPC/WinCE, PalmOS or anything else can do even today.

there are plenty of OSes that are dead that don't have people clustering around it - the question you might need to ask yourself is what is missing from the current OSes that people won't let go of BeOS, Newton, or Amiga?

Re:Odd Obsession? (2, Insightful)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475875)

Exactly, I think that's the thing. People do not lust after dead technology when it has been obsoleted or surpassed by newer technology (for the most part). People lust after it when new technology doesn't manage to do the same things as well as the old technology did. That's where I am with Newton OS. I used a Newton MessagePad 2100 and absolutely loved it...... I eventually broke down and made the switch to Palm OS, and have also tried PocketPC devices. My Palm OS device (a Treo 650) works for me, and I'm also impressed at some of the things PocketPCs can do (or Windows Mobile, sorry), but the user experience with them is just not the same as with the Newton. As much as the Newton got knocked for it's large size, there was something to be said for having more room to write with, etc. It seems like in some ways, Microsoft and their Tablet PC stuff is probably about the closest you can get these days to a similar experience (from the brief periods of time I've spent trying them out in stores).

Re:Odd Obsession? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14476319)

Anything Apple makes gets a fan club for life. There's also people out there campaigning for the return of OpenDoc and QuickDraw3D.

Re:Odd Obsession? (1)

Klanglor (704779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478027)

I think it has to do with something along the line of Darwin's evolutions theory with a twist. if it is not fit it will not survive. but if it still has a little something in it. it will go on. eventualy if the time comes it will be resurected ;)

Maybe I should emulate my ass on your face (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475542)

That's a bright future right there. AssOS.

Re:Maybe I should emulate my ass on your face (1)

StrongGlad (687909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475849)

THIS is why I read Slashdot.

This fetish needs to stop (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475547)

NewtonOS? C'mon, this fetish needs to stop. It's like watching Bryant Gumble looking at the donut stand. NewtonOS making news, it's all good, but a Technology ComeBack? That's pathetic.

waiting (0)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475548)

I think I'll wait until they get LeibnizOS running on one of these things.

Re:waiting (1)

FeriteCore (25122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475556)

Go back to fluxtions class.

Re:waiting (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475576)

I think I'll wait until they get LeibnizOS running on one of these things.

Not me. They're both just obsolescent classical OSs and I don't see the point.

I'm looking to the future, it's Bohring.


Newton Hardware (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475570)

The OS was only part of the puzzle.

Yes, its great that the OS may live again in some useable form, but its not quite the same with out the larger formfactor and apple quality behind it.

If by some miracle and Jobs got a clue so Apple would bring it back, i know id be in line to buy another one..

yeah, but... (2, Interesting)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475598)

aside from the early handwriting recognition woes and their dissing of graffitti,

the newton OS did some amazing things for a handheld, things others till haven't tried to do with the power of a decent laptop.

i'd love to see what they could do with it updated and with ten more years of evolution in how we think about imfo and OSs

Re:yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475762)

Having never used a Newton, I am unfamiliar with it's user interface. I am also unfamiliar with any of these "things" that it did 10 years ago that nobody else has done since.
I'm not trying to be disrespectful or start a flame war, ...but can anyone tell me just what was so special about the Newton. What can it do that nothing else can? ...or what can it do better than newer hardware?
I do own a Zaurus, so I would consider checking it out if I thought it might be fun or worthwhile in some way

Re:yeah, but... (1)

SideshowBob (82333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477881)

One interesting thing about the Newton OS was its persistent storage mechanism. You had 'soups' and 'slots' which were neither files nor databases. They weren't like anything else I can think of, although it was almost like XML, but binary object oriented and globally accessible and there was no reading or writing, you simply addressed them in newtonscript.

Soups could have certain standardized slots that contained newtonscript code. This code could be executed at various pre-defined times. For instance there was a slot that would get executed if your soup was stored on a removable flash card when the card is inserted (to, say, let you sync data to the internal storage) or ejected.

f'rinstance... (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478737)

You could scribble "lunch with bob monday" and it would start a calendar event, and bet that you meant the next monday, at noon, and the bob you referenced the most frequently, and you could correct it if you meant some other bob...

And that was 1.0 My palm can't do that today. neither can my mac.

The market demand must be enormous... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475600)

...for a dead OS running on moribund hardware.

Still Perfectly Useful (1)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475614)

My Messagepad 2100 with a wireless card installs is fantastic for e-mailing+IMing from the couch :)

Re:Still Perfectly Useful (1)

jbuilder (81344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476015)

Do you listen to Alice Cooper's "I Love The Dead" while you're doing this too, by any chance? Y'know there are GREAT PDA's out there that do that without having to twist and tweak them into *making* them do that... You should look into them.

Re:Still Perfectly Useful (3, Funny)

akheron01 (637033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476368)

Well I'm sorry if my budget doesn't allow me to buy a new PDA, I happen to already have the messagepad 2100 and have for years, although if you would like to buy me that brand new PDA I wouldn't complain.

"production quality" (1)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475615)

Production... of what?


Ever tried to buy a recent Zaurus outside Japan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475624)

Well, obviously not. Cause this is THE reason why this won't work:
Sharp's Zausus may be the coolest PDAs on earth, but it's unfortunately close to impossible
to buy a recent Zaurus (SL-C1000 or 3100) outside Japan, so they have no real market weight.
Sure, you can buy one from a specialized import shop for twice the price (but then,
most people prefer to buy any other PDA for half the double price ;-)
Or you can import it yourself or via a service like, but again,
that's more hassle than just choosing another PDA.
So the question is rather:
Will Sharp ever sell PDAs (again?) in Europe and the USA?
or will Nokia get the whole Linux PDA Market with their 770?

Re:Ever tried to buy a recent Zaurus outside Japan (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477316)

That brings up an interesting point: Why are they trying to emulate the Newton on a Zaurus when they ought to be doing so on a Nokia 770, since that's the thing most similar (in size and capability) to the Newton? (It's just too bad the Nokia doesn't have an expansion card slot that can be used for devices, like PCMCIA or CompactFlash.)

this might lead somewhere (4, Insightful)

streetwise (524948) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475642)

The goal here is not just being able to run decade-old apps from the Newton. It is extending what was so good about the Newton to new platforms. No pda has yet to come close to the best features of the Newton. Furthermore, palm os has stagnated, and there are lots of gadgets, from cell phones to "internet tablets" appearing that run on linux that are crying out for better user interfaces (especially decent handwriting recognition). Check out d.php?p=7287#post7287 [] over on the Nokia 770 forum as an example of how this might play out.

iPod++ ? (1)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475652)

With the iPod now running video, and 3G networks streaming TV shows to mobile phones, and Apple linking up with Motorola one question around the Newton experience is whether iPods will start to gain WiFi or Cellphone type facilties (e.g. for buying tunes on the move) and hence become more multi-modal devices. Clearly the PDA market isn't a growth sector as the smart-phone revolution is fully underway, but is there a market in which Apple start extending the iPod or building on ROKR to move into smartphones.

Newton is dead, but whether Apple gets into the smart devices market is probably more open.

Other Newton Related Advances (3, Insightful)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475659)

There were lots of new Newton-related technology at the show. It's a pity it's not covered anywhere.

One little thing I worked on was a Newton book reader extension for Firefox [] that can read Newton books from within Firefox on Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, WinXP, etc. It's now in its second public version.

The reason that people still work with Newtons is simple -- Newtons still do things that nothing else on the market seem capable of doing. There are some really good, solid ideas in that OS.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (2, Interesting)

Vivic (931533) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475689)

Everyone keeps saying that the Newton could do things that no other PDA can. Could we get some examples?

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (5, Informative)

Feneric (765069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475782)

Everyone keeps saying that the Newton could do things that no other PDA can. Could we get some examples?

Well, off the top of my head, picture a single hand-held platform that offers a free development environment with a choice of a few relatively modern (in at least two cases, solidly object-oriented; I'm not familiar enough with the other available languages to comment on them though) programming languages; support for direct wired ethernet; support for Bluetooth; support for 802.11b (and I think these days 802.11g); various techy sorts of apps like Telnet in addition to the more typical hand-held fare like address books, notepads, spreadsheets, and e-mail (and it actually has the best such client I've seen on a hand-held device); a word processor good enough that people have actually used it to write novels; a keyboard option that can actually be used for touch-typing but which is still portable; a decent graphing calculator; a full graphical web browser; a basic AI interface that can turn commands like "call Darren" into a sequence that'll actually dial your brother's telephone number, placing in all the appropriate prefixes / area codes / etc. for your current location; a free-form text-edit system that works (the early versions were rough -- the MP2000 & 2100 were both solid); a fast RISC processor that still gets excellent battery life; a grayscale display with enough resolution to be useful; Unicode support; it goes on. All of the regular add-ons for hand-helds like astronomy software, interactive fiction software, etc. are also available for the Newton.

That's just a quick list. Sure, you can get lots of these things in other packages, but you can't get them all in one package except on a Newton.

If you were to ask me on a different day I'd probably come up with a completely different list... and I'm sure other Newton users will come up with additional items that I overlooked at the moment.

The big thing is the convenience of this combination with a rock-solid multi-tasking OS in a portable form-factor. It's a little hard to explain to someone who's never used such a thing. All the same reasons that people are buying and using tablets today support the Newton, although the Newton tends to be smaller and lighter than most tablets, and never crashes...

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476131)

Except for direct wired Ethernet, not a single one of those features can't be obtained on (even faster) Palm devices. And unlike the Newton, 802.11b doesn't need to be hacked in, some of those Palms come with it built in.

The only recent Palm device that requires any hacks to get 802.11b running are the Treos, and the service providers (Verizon, etc) have to be blamed for that.

That said, even my dad's old Palm Professional blew away the Newton we had before it. The Newton was a monstrous anemic brick with utterly crappy handwriting recognition. The Palm Pro *just worked*. Every Palm we've used since that Pro has been an improvement on that, and light years ahead of the Newton that's been collecting dust on my dresser for a decade. Currently my dad has an (ancient by today's standards) Kyocera 6035, and I've got a Treo 650, and we both love them.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (2, Interesting)

Xofer D (29055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476252)

I've always found the Newton's handwriting recognition to be stellar after a short training period. Unlike the early Palms, it actually does real handwriting recognition, either printed or cursive. However, for me the main advantages were that it had an enormous screen (larger than the entire casing of a Palm) for me to work on, and that the entire screen was touch-sensitive unlike the early Palms, which only had a tiny touch area that was not capable of display. This made it the correct platform to take notes on; I could type on the keyboard and draw diagrams or math directly into my documents.

If Steve decided that the time was ripe to present a modern Newt replacement, and he did it right, I'd be very interested in what he produced. I don't think he'll do it, though. I still have, and use, my Newton 2100 that I purchased four years ago and which was made in the '90s.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477371)

Except for direct wired Ethernet, not a single one of those features can't be obtained on (even faster) Palm devices.
He mentioned a "multi-tasking OS." Palms don't have that.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

arodland (127775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478756)

PalmOS is just as multitasking as anything Apple made before 2001. Which is to say, not very, but basically good enough for practical use on a device that has a 4" screen, little memory, and limited input methods.

basic AI interface? (3, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477057)

a basic AI interface that can turn commands like "call Darren" into a sequence that'll actually dial your brother's telephone number

Must be the crappy handwriting recognition everyone talks about. My brother's name is "Victor."

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477248)

Ethernet, Bluetooth and 802.11, hey? Bzzt, no. None of those were "supported" by a stock Newton actually, only PCMCIA memory cards.

I've tried various third-party addons to get 802.11 capability on my Newton 2100 and they generally suck. Literally. Battery life on a wireless-enabled Newton suddenly becomes 1 hour or less, regardless of which of about six 802.11 cards I use. You need to start using an AC adaptor, which defeats the purpose of installing the wireless card in the first place.

I'd definitely like to see Newton re-released, though. With today's processor and battery technology (think LiPo's instead of 4 AA's) you could get a Newt with the same handheld foot print (to keep the large writing/drawing area) but much lighter and thinner, better power management software for the built-in Bluetooth and 802.11. An MMC/SD memory card slot to leave the PCMCIA slot free would be nice, too.

The Rosetta system used on Newt is still the best handwriting recognition software ever. Period.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477764)

The big thing is the convenience of this combination with a rock-solid multi-tasking OS in a portable form-factor.
The Newton had multi-tasking before Mac OS did? That's kinda weird...

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (3, Informative)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476241)

Write text directly on the screen where you want it.

Draw a diagram under the text. Have the Newton automatically clean up your circles, rectangles and lines into vector graphics.

Write some more directly under that. Select the text and have your handwriting converted to text.

One gesture to start a new page.

In other words, the thing the Newton did which no other PDA has achieved that I've seen, is act enough like a notepad that you can actually use it for taking notes.

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476749)

Another nice feature is the delete. To delete something on the Newton, you scribble it out. This is far, far more intuitive than any other system I've seen. You can also, as I recall, draw a circle around a group of shapes you've just drawn, and then drag them somewhere else. Oh, and it even recognised arrow heads on lines you drew when converting them to vectors...

Re:Other Newton Related Advances (1)

roard (661272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477928)

Well, it was more the general philosophy than any particular example. I mean, you can always show a cool thing that the Newton is doing, and you'll say "oh but I can do that on my pocketpc using this or that 3rd party software !". So what's the big deal ?

Well, firstly, the User Interface is excellent. It's the best UI of all the PDA I owned (PalmOS, PocketPC, Nokia 770). Why ? because it's really MEANT to be used with a pen. You can write everywhere on the screen, not just in a small part; you scribble to delete something; you have an easy and quick way of changing input and drawing methods (eg you can choose to have your drawings "straightened" -- draw a kind of circle, the newt will automatically transform it into a real circle, etc). Everything you draw is vectorial and you can easily manipulate it. And other than beeing really built around the use of a pen, the UI is very clean, slick and uncluterred.

Secondly, the recognition engine is incredible. Truely impressive. Basically, it works. Really, really cool. The simplicity of mixing some written text (automatically recognised) with some "ink" text, and any kind of drawing ... really gives you a _working_ notepad. It's the only PDA I ever used that could really be used for taking notes (and I _did_ once try to write down a course on my Palm Vx ;-) -- absolutely unusable apart from the "let's try it" factor).

Thirdly, NewtonOS is built on a real OO core, and NewtonScript is a very neat language. That's basically how things like the fat driver / patch or einstein were possible, as you can intercept messages. But more importantly for the user, you don't have files, but a kind of simple OO database. Why is it important ? because it lets applications _easily_ cooperate, picking and sharing informations. Real cooperation between apps is possible. It helps a lot to remove the apps at the back, and put your datas at the front.

Fourthly, there is this neat "assistant" technology that actually make a good use of the OO databases. That's how you can write "meet dave next friday", click on the assistant button, and automatically the Newt will propose you to add a new meeting entry into your calendar, for the next friday, with the most likely dave you know from your address book (and of course it's easy to change the propositions in the dialog box).

There's also the possibility to "send" apps results (by mail, by fax, to the printer, etc.) easily. Plus an I/O general mechanism to deal with everything you send or receive on the newt.

And lastly, the form factor. That's something that, sadly, is forgotten by the so called PDA today. Having a *big* screen helps a lot to write proper notes -- I mean, physically, not the resolution, even if the Newt resolution is rather good. Basically, while it's smaller than a tabletpc, it's also big enough to be useful for real note taking (and more).

Oh, and something that everybody forget to say: as it used flash memory, you never lost anything, even if your battery run out. Speaking of batteries, mine simply used standard AA batteries..

I really miss my newton 2100 (it was stolen...) .

And my new shiny nokia 770 is so far behind on the UI side it's not even funny (even if it's better on some technical aspects, mainly, the screen resolution). And I actually think that Maemo is a quite ok UI, compared to the other available choices today ! So, if I can put Einsteing on my 770... You bet I'll use it ;-)

For those interested, I wrote a few posts about the newton, the dynabook, and the nokia: tml [] l []

Headline: Linux app runs on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14475664)

Why is this news? Just in case no one noticed, the Sharp Zaurus is a Linux PDA - You can compile pretty much any open-source Linux application for it, space and RAM permitting (both of which aren't issues, usually).

I guess the next headline will be about MacOS 9 running on the Zaurus via Pear PC?

Stuff That Matters (0, Offtopic)

pinkythecat (879883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475668)

Probably not. Granted it is Sunday morning but posts like this seem to just be space fillers.

Stardust capsule has landed, that is newsworthy, Newton emulation isn't.

the only way (2, Insightful)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475740)

The only ways Newton OS will live again is if someone actually develops the OS. Otherwise, it's just a dead piece of code. Developing it requires that either (1) Apple open sources it, or (2) Apple makes another product out of it, or (3) Apple sells it. I don't see any of those happening.

Re:the only way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14477491)

I would say you forgot point #4. If someone finds a way to port the NewtonOS to other hardware.

Einstein is one way, and potentially the best way, to keep the Newton going for those who need or want it. Once the Newton is portable like this, it could have a perpetual existence. As far as I know, this is all anybody is really after--keeping our beloved Newtons going... I see that as a good thing, regardless what you or other naysayers thing. :-)

Great OS but No... (2, Insightful)

wackymacs (865437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475923)

Although it is not production quality, could this bring a future to the Newton platform? No, as everyone else has been saying. Just because an old OS is being emulated on new hardware doesn't mean it will bring a future to it. Other dead OSes, such as System 7, have been emulated on the PSP,Macs and PCs but I don't see that having any 'future'. Isn't it a but of a stupid question? The Newton OS is great - I have two Newtons and an eMate which all run the Newton OS, but its been dead ever since Apple discontinued the Newton products in 1997 and it won't ever be alive again, sadly.

Unless you do like BeOS or AmigaOS.. (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475937)

The only way to bring such an OS to life, is either to make it be re-deved by Apple, like Amiga re-deved AmigaOS after about 10 years of death, or have a company to start developping an OS based on NewtonOS, just like Zeta did with BeOS.

Otherwise, how could an outdated OS come back to life like this? When was the last time that an emulator brought an OS "back to life"? You can argue that such emulators as Mini vMac or Basilisk II or even SheepShaver brought back some interest and even some use to pre-X Mac OS, but did they bring it back to life in the way that people starting developping for that old OS again?


Technological Necrophilia Squared!! (1)

jbuilder (81344) | more than 8 years ago | (#14475972)

I'm sorry.. but one dead PDA (the Zaurus) emulating another dead PDA (the Newton)? This is technological necrophilia at it's worst. The Newton is dead and so is the Sharp Zaurus. What we need is the features of the Newton that we liked put into a new hardware platform at an affordable price. Linux still has some growing to do before it really becomes a solid PDA platform - and the fact that there is no major company backing that any more won't help it's cause. And Newton died because of the overengineered buggy OS and the rediculous pricepoint. Think about it - the Newton MP2100 was 1200 bucks. You can buy some nice laptops these days that run CURRENT OSs. And personally I'd rather run SuSE10 or even XP than the NewtonOS (which as been dead for 8 years now).

Zaurus not dead. (2, Insightful)

linuxrocks123 (905424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476316)

It's still being developed in Japan.

why not start fro mthe beginning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14476263)

Why emulate the Newton and why complain about CE or Palm... If you can get Linux to run on the PDA, then you know enough about the hardware to write a new OS for it.. Why not have a community get together decide what you like about he various OSes, and then make a new one, make an interface that does what you want. If you think Linux is the right choice then start there, but write a new interface to sit atop it. Why is it that all you ever are posts about how great the newton was, and how lousy Wince or PalmOS (or Pocket PC OS or whatever MS calls it now) is. You have the tools out there. If the current products are so bad, make a better product...

What kind of resources does this take? (1)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476337)

What kind of resources does this take? Like, in terms of RAM, CPU, how much space the whole package takes up.

I'm basically asking because I'm wondering whether the next step could be to port this same emulator to the Nintendo DS.

will this start a new cliche (1)

mseidl (828824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476471)

Yeah, but will it run Newton?

but will it run OSX86? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14477050)

Maybe, but will it run OSX86 [] ?

It is not about a "comeback" (3, Informative)

_vSyncBomb (50710) | more than 8 years ago | (#14476869)

I think people who don't actually know much/anything about the Newton are missing the point here.

Of course the Newton is not "coming back". Its fate was sealed when Apple shut it down but refused to sell the technology.

But at the Newton conference [] yesterday one speaker said, "I've been trying to replace my Newton for almost ten years now." The audience agreed. But the design philosophies behind the Newton (continued in Mac OS X) have kept it ahead of unambitious crap like the moribund Palm OS (talk about dead--*that* OS sure won't remain in use for a decade after it gets discontinued). And in these intervening years Newtons have remained in service and the data on these things has even continued to accumulate.

Is the Newton coming back? No, it is not. But what Einstein means is that it may be able to STAY AROUND for a couple (several?) more years until the industry can come up with something good enough to actually replace it fro the people still using them.

It's cool to be able to emulate old systems

Why do people still care about the Newton? (1)

zaren (204877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477037)

A few months back, I got a gig working for a school district. They provide all their techs with Dell Axims runnning the PocketPC OS. I took it with me out on my first runs, and started using it's Notepad to scribble down some things I needed to remember - like IP numbers, teacher names and room numbers, computers that I had to fix - the same way I used to use my dear old Newt2100. No resolving, just straight "ink" scribbbles. I opened my notes later, and found that my scribbles had been re-arranged on the page - words moved, numbers scrambled, and in some cases, data completely deleted.

The next day, I showed up with my Newton, and I have never lost another single scribbled note. I haven't touched the Axim to take another note since. I still keep it charged up and stuffed in a pocket for wireless stuff, since my Newton only does 64 bit encryption, and the schools use 128, but that's the only use I have for that thing.

Here's hoping (1)

gpig (244284) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477139)

Anything would be better than the Zaurus' native PIM applications.

Is this for real? (0, Troll)

coderpunk (930756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477442)

This soundslike an interesting hack, but the website leaves alot to be desired. There's a tar.gz download but no explanation of how to get it up and running on a Zaurus. Also, it would seem to me that this is going to be pretty damn slow, emulating the Newton (a 68k series processor I think?) on an ARM running Linux at around 200MHz. OpenZaurus already is a bit slowon my SL-5500. I'd think you'd do better to port the Newton 'Look and Feel' to OpenZaurus or one of the other Linux PDA platforms.

yeah (1)

mseidl (828824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477501)

but will it run windows?

Ooops, got excited there for a minute (1)

chrism238 (657741) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477709)

.... I thought it said that Linux had been ported to the Newton. Damn,

WWNC more interesting than Macworld Expo SF (1)

TeddyTheBear (946073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477824)

I went to the WWNC yesterday just for an hour to see the Einstein session (NewtonOS on ARM Linux) and I must admit, that I was highly impressed. I used the Newton from before the beginning (Sharp Newton!) up to the Newton Messagepad 2100. Then I switched to PalmOS, because I wanted a smaller form factor and now to PocketPC (Windows Mobile 2003 and 5) for the VGA screen and possibility of running VoIP clients (Skype, SIP). But every day I use PalmOS and PocketPC, I wonder how it is possible that a 10 year old device like the Newton2100 works so much better than anything I have today. So if I have a chance to run NewtonOS on any modern SMALL device, I will do it in an instant. BTW: I have some coverage of the WWNC (and Macworld Expo SF) on my blog at []

Since when does emulation = a future? (2, Insightful)

wernst (536414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14477934)

"...could this bring a future to the Newton platform?"


You know, I can (and do) emulate the Apple IIGS and IIe on my PC (and Mac, for that matter) with production-quality emulation software. So?

Would anyone be stupid enough to suggest that a dead platform like the Apple II, even well emulated, gives it a future beyond that of a "novelty project?" I think not.

Emulated NewtonOS is no different.

No (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14478235)

It will just make Newton's past longer.

Would an Amiga emulator give Amiga a future? Would an MSX emulator give MSX one? Oops.. There are already Amiga and MSX emulators...

Sorry, Newton-ers. Life is not fair.
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