iPad

Cracking open Apple's first tablet: The Newton MessagePad

Before there was the Apple iPad, there was the Newton MessagePad. TechRepublic cracks open the Newton for a look inside the Apple iPad's ancestor.

The iPad isn't Apple's first foray into the tablet market. Before there was the iPad, there was the Newton MessagePad.

Introduced in 1993, it paved the way for device like the Palm PDA, Pocket PC, and more than a decade later the Apple's own iPhone. Unfortunately, the Newton was Ridiculed for poor performance, it didn't last long in the marketplace, but its influence lingers on today.

In 2008, TechRepublic got our hands on an Apple Newton H1000, also known as an OMP (Original Message Pad). This was the first Newton on the market. We just couldn't resist taking it apart. Here's a look at the technology inside the Apple iPad's early ancestor.

Apple Newton MessagePad tablet/handheld computer

Next Page (More photos) »

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

29 comments
Azathoth
Azathoth

I mean, it looks like it has user replaceable batteries.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But only because Apple's marketing machine today is so much better than it was and because the target audience doesn't care if they need it, it was made by Apple.

danmangenz
danmangenz

Ipod touch has the mobility factor that the ipad doesn't, stick it in your pocket and go, listen to music whenever. Ipad on the other hand has a bigger screen, which amounds to easier visibility, better web browsing, better gaming, ease of use for email and document editing, note taking. Personally I would buy an Ipad before an Ipod, I'd just use it more with my lifestyle.

RGRinc
RGRinc

I have the model Newton featured here. It really was ahead of its time. However, Steve Jobs was not at Apple during this time, and lacking his vision the final product produced was less than what it should have been.

keechj
keechj

Used Newtons in the early 90s only changed to Windows mobile iPaqs etc because my company went PC. Finally the nightmare ended with the iPhone in from the beginning. Newton's handwriting recog always beat Windows IMHO. I'll await iPad need a camera at least for video conference and possible multitasking. Now a Mac family and will take our family business that way as soon as we can afford it. Newton was great.

DixieGeek
DixieGeek

Wow! The Message Pad had user replaceable batteries. What a concept. You think Apple would have learned its lesson.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Before there was the Apple iPad, there was the Newton MessagePad. TechRepublic cracks open the Newton for a look inside the Apple iPad's ancestor. Back in 2008, TechRepublic got our hands on a Newton and cracked it open. Original post and photos: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/itdojo/?p=1619 I don't think there is any doubt the iPad will be more successful than the Newton. Technology has finally caught up to the promise of tablet devices. What do you think?

ricrosen14
ricrosen14

I have a 3gs that I LOVE! ! ! Watch movies, listen to music with my bluetooth headset, read books, play games, and the phone calls! !

ShockRide
ShockRide

Some insight into Steve Jobs... He is one of the biggest egotists in the Silicon Valley. I have the last model before Steve Jobs junked the interface. I absolutely loved the interface, and after a time, it responded very well to my chicken scratch type style of writing extremely well. The reason that Newton died was purely political. It died a political because Steve Jobs did not have a hand in creating it.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I'll be doing the same thing. I also want to see who else comes out with a similar device this year. By the end of the year there will be at least a handful of tablet/slate computers.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I have three beefs with the Apple iPad, and the non-user-replaceable battery is one of them. Here are all three: 1. No of Flash support 2. No replaceable storage support 3. Non-user-replaceable battery I understand Apple's reasoning behind most of these decisions, I just don't really agree with them.

scairns
scairns

The iPad cannot really be compared to the Newton as they are (were?) designed for different purposes. I was lucky to score a Newton many years ago, and can say as a concept, it was definitely ahead of its time. In one respect in particular, its handwriting recognition capability was awesome. I haven't kept up with this tech, so I don't know if this has ever been surpassed. Unfortunately, Apple didn't follow through with it, for whatever reason (I'm guessing both competition and politics) and we saw the various Palm Pilots, HP Ipaq, etc. take over this market. The iPad is in no way competing in the same market and so these devices really cannot be compared. At this point, I really don't see the iPad as being marketed to the consumer. I think Apple will target the iPad as being an adjunct to the exec's PC (or Mac ;-) It would the perfect collaboration device. Imagine half to a dozen execs around a boardroom table, each seeing the same presentation page on their iPad, without getting a pain in their necks from twisting around to look at the OHP image, or big screen monitor at the end of the room. Each could make public alterations to the presentation on the spot, and discuss with the rest of the room, or make private alterations to the actual document on the spot. Just think, no need for the last-minute dash to run off hard copies of the presentation prior to the meeting, as the attendees have access to the presentation on their iPads ;-) Attendees could then take this info, either in the iPad itself or from the server that the iPad is wirelessly connected to, back to their desktop PC (or a colleague's) to review. Or put the iPad in their briefcase, and take it out to the car to go wherever. And don't tell me you can already do this a laptop. I challenge you find me an exec who is prepared to . . - disconnect cables and remove their laptop from their desk, - successfully wake their laptop up, - open the correct application, - then reverse this process and get their machine working back at their desk . . . This device could not only make huge changes to boardroom presentations, it could make huge changes to the way business is done in general. And let's face it, when Apple introduces a new product, huge changes are often not far away . . . . Mac OS, iPod, iPhone . . . . iPad??? Once Apple have a foothold in the business sector and production has ramped up, then we might see prices reduce, and more consumer-oriented models marketed. . . . . just my (exceedingly long-winded) thoughts on the matter ;-)

ShockRide
ShockRide

I had one of the last Newtons, and went through the hardware upgrade process (if anyone remembers that). I loved the device, and it was much easier to work with than anything else at the time. I now have an Android phone. I enjoy having it and working with it. Now the size problem: For me the Newton was too big. It was something that I always carried with me but would not fit into my pocket. Eventually I was tired with that aspect of it. My Android phone fits in my pocket and allows me to easily carry everything on the phone. I think the iPad may be cool, but I am certainly not going to carry it around with me to organize my life and it certainly does not fit in my pocket. If I want something that size, I have my laptop. I constantly have that when I am working. Why would I need another device that can't do anything close to that except look cool? Basically, until you can fold the iPad up and put it in a pocket, it is not going to be really successful. As an aside. In this example, you could substitute and iPhone for the Android. The point is that size matters if you want something that organizes your life.

mafergus
mafergus

No doubt that the base hardware is limited, but I believe it will be successful in the consumer arena because, it's "magic" and hardcore mac users never, ever listen to arguments from the PC side. I think you will see people using it as a compliment to the i-touch/ I-phone If this had been developed by Dell with the same capabilities, it would have been destroyed in the reviews and would have sales slightly higher then Kaypro Ivs last year. But Dell or any other pc maker is not Apple.

QAonCall
QAonCall

I have reviewed the hardware, and struggle to see a real business use, based on the amount of storage the device has and the necessary business applications that will be needed. Additionally, the mobile unit with the data package is very prohibitive. It will sell to those that must have everything apple rolls out, but for practical purposes why would you buy an ipad that stores less than some memory sticks are now supporting. Install itunes, a reader and a browser and your storage could be down to...10GB on the top end machines? Unless they make this really take portable storage and that contains your information (and if that is the plan, why have this device to begin with??) you will be forced in cloud computing and surfing the web, and gee isn't that why most executives have a mobile phone now? ;) Just doesn't seem like a good deal for the cost and usability. The 16gb machine is doomed I think, the other 2 may be usable. (Note a DVD typically in in the multi GB range, so a 16GB storage device is not going to do a lot with movies and music and have other use.) I think you are better off with an ipod touch. MHO

geoff.schardein
geoff.schardein

You always have the choice not to buy it as others have the choice to buy it. Personally I am going to get one. I will not be getting it on release day but will as soon as I can. I am waiting to see how the WiFi model compares to the 3G model before choosing which one I am getting. Frankly I could care less about Flash, it is buggy and I doubt Adobe could even tell you what code it uses, Flash needs to be gutted and rebuilt from the ground up to be of any use. On the battery so what, the battery life reports I have seen appear to indicate it will suffice for my needs and the $99 replacement policy after a year means I get newer revs so I win. As to the memory again so what you miss the whole point of this appliance it is not a laptop replacement it is a new way of getting at media that does have some useful business tools in iWorks. Of course the sole purpose of posts such as your are to get comments so I guess in that regard I fell into your trap. Still you you have the choice as does everyone on what they spend their money on. Me I will choose the iPad over any other tablet until the other tablets show they get it that I as a user do not want a PC replacement but a media device. Oh and I look forward to the games on it as well...

dfruk
dfruk

My beefs are: 1: 1000GBP to purchase (maybe I could convince myself I needed it) 2: 360GBP per year to run it (can't convince myself on that one and have an iPhone too) Why wont this system accept Pound signs?

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

And it could work...if the iPad ran PowerPoint. But it doesn't. I honestly don't see a place in business for the Apple iPad except sales, and then only because it's a conversation starter. It won't run our business software (including VPN!), and with no external ports, there's not a tech in the world who can use it for work.

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

The iPad does have limitations, as does the iPod Touch and the iPhone. I outline my three beefs with the iPad here: http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-13625-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=328566&messageID=3270668 I won't buy one for myself because of these limitations. But, Dell's problem isn't one of marketing. Dell made a decision more than a decade ago to be a leader in the low-cost, custom PC market. Most of their innovation since then has been in providing that service. But let's face it, a laptop is laptop now matter what color you make the case. Apple on the other hand took the route Sony did in the mid-80s. They went into the "tech hits business". Where Sony had the Walkman, Apple had the iPod and iTunes. That combination of hardware and software revolutionized music consumption. Then came the iPhone and the App Store, which did the same for smartphones. Mind you, the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player. Nor was the iPhone the first smartphone. But Apple combined hardware and software in an innovative way that was "good enough" and "stable enough" for most of their target consumers. And, both were hits. Unfortunately, I haven't seen many traditional PC manufacturers do that in a long time. I would love to see them do it. And perhaps, tablet/slate computers will give them an area in which to innovate beyond pricing, processor speed, storage capacity, and the color of the box.

ted.watkns
ted.watkns

In addition to the size limitations, the IPAD does not multi-process. If I want to cruise the net and listen to my ITunes, I'm out of luck. I can do one or the other but not both. That, in itself, is a deal killer.

noahspurrier
noahspurrier

dual layer DVDs store 8.5 GB. Few movies use all of that. Most movies use less than 4 GB. DVDs also use the antiquated MPEG-2 compression technology. Video for an iBook would obviously use something better. You can get satisfactory video quality suitable for the iBook screen size down to less than 1 GB for a 90 minute movie. Let's be generous and call it 2 GB per movie. I would be more than happy carrying more than 5 movies with me or a full season of "Breaking Bad". And that assumes I'm visiting my island where I have not yet installed a wireless Internet connection or 3G mobile. Remember, that this device is a mobile, CONNECTED, device. It isn't supposed to be used the same way as your grandpa's Thinkpad... Which reminds me of the last Thinkpad I owned; it only had a 20 GB hard-drive. That never stopped me from watching movies on it while traveling. My only complaint about the iPad is the AppStore Jail. I will buy an iPad when Apple releases their tyrannical grip on who may or may not sell software for it, or when there is a confirmed jail-break for the iPad.

chancr1
chancr1

Holding the ALT KEY while typing 0163 on the numeric pad has always worked for me. But my pound sign changed to ? once posted as well. ymmd!

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

I agree. The initial purchase price is a bit high for my taste. I'd like to see it around $300. But remember, you aren't required to buy a wireless plan with the iPad. In fact, the version released tomorrow won't have a 3G chip. Not sure about the Pound sign. I tried to insert one and it was converted into a question mark. I assume it is being caught by the filters the strip code from the forum posts. I'll pass the issue to our developers.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The people who have a need for the slate/tablet form factor have been using products from Lenovo, HP, Dell and others for years. Yet the Apple shills would have us believe their iPad is not only something completely new, but also the best thing since sliced bread, when not even the name is original. It sounds just like Microsoft advertising their latest-greatest OS.

MrRich
MrRich

Powerpoint isn't a deal killer. All the Ad agencies run Keynote anyway. I'll admit its a specialized market, and one that's hampered by the inability to run Flash. As far as tech work, no way would I take this to a site to configure a router. But OTOH the size of the screen is interesting for remoting into servers if I could run Citrix / or VNC whatever over SSH. iPad would be sweet for flying on a Wifi enabled flight (Southwest, Jet Blue, etc.) It's a good fit for those who travel with NetBooks. For business - Exchange connectivity is there. MS Office compatibility is likely through iWork, and good chance that MS will make a compatible version of Office eventually. It apparently supports Cisco VPN clients as well. That makes it a non multitasking pretty display screen. I think it fits a niche where you want something simple to travel with. I'd love to run Skype on this when I am in Europe. So my analysis is that this fits the niche of a Netbook. But with a better screen, a little more style, and the option to have built in cellular connectivity.

kuragh_1
kuragh_1

In these hectic modern times, where people are used to being able to multitask until the cows come home and just take it for granted, not being able to do so just seems so....primitive, which i believe is completely against the image Apple want for themselves. iPad = gimmicky fail with no real world application other than making you look cool in front of your less than tech savvy friends.

Threv
Threv

Wait no more the ipad has already been Jailbroken. Didn't even last a day LOL. (After it is just an over sized iPhone)