Word has come down that Apple has finally abandoned its “Newton” trademark, a mere 16 years after they officially killed the Newton. Patently Apple reports the trademark was officially abandoned on February 12, 2013. I’m surprised that they managed to hold onto that trademark for so long, although a quick test shows they still own www.newton.com, which currently redirects you to Apple.com.
Last year Harry McCracken wrote a great article in Time Magazine about his experiment buying a 20 year old Newton and trying to use it in the modern world.
But when it dawned on me that 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of the Newton, I still felt like I wasn’t in a position to express informed opinions about it.
So I bought one.
Thanks to the modern miracle known as eBay, it’s not hard to acquire a Newton. I lucked upon a remarkable specimen: a first-generation model, the MessagePad H1000, running version 1.0 of Newton OS. It wasn’t just in mint condition, in the original boxes with all the original accouterments and documentation, plus a shrinkwrapped introductory videotape. There was no sign that it had ever been booted up. By buying such a virginal example, I would get the same Newton experience that the earliest adopters got when they plunked down their $699 in 1993
Instead of being a tablet-like device, however, the eMate 300 resembled a small laptop. At 4 pound and 12.0″x11.4″x 2.1″, the eMate 300 was only a little larger than the downright tiny PowerBook Duos. It rocked a nicely-sized keyboard on the lower half of its semi-transparent green clamshell. Apple even included several places to store the stylus.