The Apple Newton MessagePad 100 was the same as the original Newton, but shipped with a newer version of the Newton operating system (Newton OS 1.2). All available Newton models included the MessagePad (Original MessagePad, OMP), followed by the MessagePad 100, 110, 120, 130, 2000, and 2100. In addition, the eMate 300 also ran the Newton OS.
The Newton MessagePad was the first device referred to as a “Personal Digital Assistant” (PDA). The MessagePad 100 was a handheld device with a 336×240 monochrome display that was touch-sensitive. Users could interact with the display with a stylus that came with the Newton stored in a compartment on the right side. The device used a 20 MHz ARM (Acorn RISC Machine) 610 processor and had a total of 604k of storage, although only 150k was usable. This Newton weighed just under 1 pound at 0.9 pounds.
The Newton MessagePad 100 could be plugged in to a Macintosh or Windows computer using a serial port connection, or data could be “beamed” to and from the device through infrared. It also had a PCMCIA card slot (later called a PC Card) accessed from the top to allow other programs to be run or the memory to be expanded.
The Newton was also among the first devices commercially available to use handwriting recognition as part of the operating system. However, this feature did not work well when first released, leading media and popular culture to ridicule and parody the feature. The Newton’s handwriting capabilities were featured on an episode of The Simpsons (“Lisa on Ice”) and in a week-long story of the Doonesbury comic strip by Garry Trudeau.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1998, the Newton was one of the projects that was cancelled.
I used this Newton MessagePad 100 for 3 years while serving as a band director. This device allowed me to keep all my notes and contacts and I used it along with my Macintosh PowerBook 160. For the record, I did not experience the handwriting recognition issues with this device that were popular to reference at the time. In fact, I believe the Newton OS 1.2 handwriting recognition from around 1995 has the same, or better, accuracy than the “Scribble” text input on the Apple Watch in 2020.
The Newton 9W Power Adapter could be used with all Newton MessagePad products in the United States, Canada, and Japan. An Apple price list also noted that this adapter could “recharge the NiCd Rechargeable Battery Pack for the MessagePad 120 and 130, and the NiMH Rechargeable Battery Pack for the MessagePad 2000 and 2100.”
These boxes contain eMate Replacement Pens. The box is labeled “24 low-cost replacement pens for the Apple eMate 300 mobile computer.” One of the boxes I have is factory-shrink-wrapped and the other is an open partial box.
The eMate 300, a member of the Newton family, shipped with a stylus of the same design as these replacement pens. Comparing the pen that shipped with the eMate 300 and these replacement pens, the two appear identical.
The Newton Connection Kit for Macintosh included Newton Connection software on two 3.5-inch floppy disks, a serial cable, and manuals. The kit connected a Newton personal digital assistant to a Macintosh computer and allowed the Newton to be synchronized with a Macintosh. Users could also transfer files, restore the Newton, and install software onto the Newton. A Newton Connection Kit for Windows was also available.
The eMate 300 was designed specifically for the education market and was used extensively in the schools where I was a Director of Technology in the late 1990s to early 2000s.
At the time, students primarily used desktop computers in a computer lab setting, while laptops were used by some school administrators and few teachers. We used the lower-cost eMate 300 for students who had difficulty handwriting, and most students and teachers preferred typing on this device over an AlphaSmart keyboard device that was also available at the time.
The eMate 300 ran the NewtonOS, a different operating system than the Macintosh computers of the time. The eMate 300 featured a 25 MHz ARM 710a processor, 8 MB of ROM, 3 MB of RAM (1MB of DRAM+2 MB of Flash Memory for user storage), a PCMCIA slot, IrDA-beaming capabilities, and a proprietary Newton InterConnect port.
The design was quite unique with a translucent aquamarine and black “clamshell” portable case with a 480×320 16-shade grayscale backlit LCD display. The eMate 300 included a stylus and a built-in keyboard (and did not support a mouse).
The eMate was the only Newton model to resemble a traditional laptop rather than a handheld device. Although the device was called the eMate “300,” no other models were manufactured.
eMate 300 design elements were clearly used in later Apple designs: the translucent plastic would show up a year later in the original Bondi blue iMac and later in the original iBook designs; the retro-futuristic curves and overall shape was also echoed in the iMac and iBook; and the NewtonOS is often considered a precursor to the iPhoneOS that would later become iOS.
My collection features several eMate 300 devices, many of them including original packaging.