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The Newton O.S. Creeps Toward New Hardware 278

Posted by timothy
from the hypothetically dept.
GraWil writes "As previously reported, the Apple Newton refuses to die! The Worldwide Newton Conference 2004 has wrapped up (photos) and, thanks to Paul Guyot, there is real hope for an emulator. His talk, titled 'Newton never dies, It only gets new hardware,' describes and shows the Einstein Emulator, that will eventually allow the Newton OS to be built and run on top of Unix. Will your next Linux PDA boot Newton OS next year?"
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The Newton O.S. Creeps Toward New Hardware

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  • Re:Damn. (Score:4, Informative)

    by sploo22 (748838) <dwahler@gmail.3.14159com minus pi> on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:38PM (#10435407)
    Not your fault, they just changed the title in the last few seconds. It was originally "The Apple Newton Gets New Hardware".
  • Re:My question is... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Megane (129182) on Monday October 04, 2004 @08:57PM (#10435542) Homepage
    I wouldn't try running it on an old Palm.

    The Newton used a 16-25 MHz or so ARM, and even then it lagged quite a bit. The final models (before Steve killed it) had 166 MHz or so CPUs. The Palm has a 16 MHz 68000, so there's no chance there. On the other hand, modern PDAs (PocketPC, Palm ARM, Zaurus) use 200+ MHz ARM CPUs, so they ought to run the Newton OS in an emulator environment with no trouble at all. The important part is the total lack of need for CPU emulation.

  • A much better link (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbellis (142590) <jonathan@NoSpam.carnageblender.com> on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:00PM (#10435562) Homepage
    http://wwnc.newtontalk.net/program/paulguyot/slide s-paulguyot.pdf

    Turns out to be quite the interesting talk.

    more from the conference:

    http://wwnc.newtontalk.net/program/
  • by MouseR (3264) on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:16PM (#10435655) Homepage
    You have to catch up on your Apple folklore.

    The reason, wich is widely regarded as truth, that Jobs killed the newton is pure retaliation against Scully.

    John Scully invented the concept and drove the outcome as the Newton shortly after he had fired Jobs in their power feud of mid 80s. Scully had killed the Lisa and Jobs took over the Mac not to be empty-handed. When Jobs was back at the helm of Apple, he was just pleased at destroying the Newton rather than building on it. To this day, Jobs keep dismissing PDAs altogether while telling everyone that phones will inherit the futur. What does he do next? A frickin' music player.

    Jobs has done a lot of good stuff for Apple since his come-back. But the Newton murder wasn't one of them. Marry Newton OS and the iPod and then you start having something interesting. But ego makes this product impossible. Or highly improbable.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:23PM (#10435713)
    time and time again, steve jobs has said that the PDA market is headed towards a convergance. several years ago, he said you will see the market go from purely PDA to PDA/Phone combo to god knows what other combo the market is going to create. guess what, Steve Jobs was right. convergence is what has happened and is still happening in the PDA market. he has been smart enough to not jump onto the bandwagon, so to say, and persue different routes.

    the iPod for instance is a different route. they have included very limited PDA functionality (so far text/calendar-function/address book). this used to be the basic needs for a majority of people.

    does apple really have a chance against all the other PDA manufacturers? perhaps, but the market is very slim right now (with many reports that I have read suggesting it is not perceived to grow) and apple does not have anything innovative enough to capture a reasonable size of it. why waste their time, money, and spread the resources too thin?
  • Re:Is it OpenSource? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 04, 2004 @09:56PM (#10435899)
    NO - Einstien is NOT open source, and most likely will not be open source at any point. There are legal issues regarding licensing of the OS, the HWR input, etc. that the developers need to work out before they can truly finish a product. As such they can't realease the code, what would Microsoft do if you released all of winXP source code on the net? Probably a similar thing to what Apple would (and may still do) to these guys.

    Also - they've seen other open source developments for the newton go south - too many hands, not enough direction. They intend to keep things to a core of dedicated developers, to decide a direction to take things and to FOCUS on a goal.

  • Re:Data soup (Score:4, Informative)

    by Graymalkin (13732) * on Monday October 04, 2004 @10:02PM (#10435945)
    Soups are just relational databases. Their relational aspect is what made them so useful on the Newton. If you stored an entry in your contacts it wouldn't end up steveha.vcf or something of that sort, instead the data would be added atomically to the Names soup. Later when you go to send an e-mail or fax to the contact (yourself for the sake of explanation) you would simply pick the steveha entry in your names to send it to and all of the appropriate information would be filled in because it would all be related in the database to the steveha entry. A note you wrote would be associated with its creation date and if you decided to file it in a group letting you not worry where it was and what it was called.

    This system is incredibly powerful because all sorts of data ends up linked to other sorts of data. It is possible to find all of the e-mails that have been sent to you by a particular person or a bit of text stored in a note you got passed by someone. The Newton through its soups had content searches far before things like Sherlock or Spotlight.
  • by afidel (530433) on Monday October 04, 2004 @10:03PM (#10435948)
    Well if you dropped the budget requirement you would seem to be a perfect candidate for an OQO [oqo.com] ultra compact PC. It's 4.9*3.4 inches, has a 800*480 display, has a full keyboard, thumb mouse, pen input, scroll wheel, etc. It has Firewire, Bluetooth, 802.11b, and USB built in. It lasts aprox 3 hours on battery. It has a 20GB HDD for storage. The biggest problem for you would be the price, I believe the first generation are around $1800.
  • by lesv (258710) on Monday October 04, 2004 @10:18PM (#10436007) Homepage
    This is out of hand. Newton is 10 year old hardware that has an adamant user base that consistantly reaches over backwards to keep alive. Yet this hardware device is one that Jobs is staunchly against and has consistantly given the middle finger to.

    That is just untrue. Steve has said that he could have saved Newton, but that he didn't have the management talent to do it. I believe that was just part of the story. The Newton group was working on StrongArm based products before things were killed. The StrongArm was a part of DEC that was acquired by Intel (When they picked up the Alpha technology & Engineers), at that point in time, Intel wasn't really sure what they wanted to do with it. It would have been insane for Apple to spend time rebuilding a business when they didn't know if it's major supplier was going to keep manufacturing. I was the last person hired into the Newton team.
  • Re:My question is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by thegoogler (792786) on Monday October 04, 2004 @10:40PM (#10436114)
    Actually the IIIc had a 25mhz processor, and it wasn't a 68000(some kind of custom chip) just FYI.
  • by The Ego (244645) on Monday October 04, 2004 @10:59PM (#10436202)
    The "dialect of Scheme" was not NewtonScript but the _intended_ language for the Newton, Dylan [gwydiondylan.org]. The project did not deliver quickly enough, and NewtonScript replaced it.

    NewtonScript is based on templates rather than the traditional class-based object protocol derived from Simula (the one model many C++/Java/C# programmers associate with "object orientation").

    Practicing those alternative language make you feel very restricted when you come back to more mainstream languages. I really encourage you to look at Dylan. I never had the opportunity to use NewtonScript but I intend to find out someday.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Monday October 04, 2004 @11:41PM (#10436381) Journal
    So at this point is it "economically unfeasable" for Apple to Open Source the entire Newton OS and not just the toolkit???

    Well, let's suppose for a moment that you were an executive at Apple: how much budget would you allocate to 1) finding the code, 2) determining whether it embodies any patents that Apple licenses from other parties, 3) seeing if it builds, 4) documenting it?

    Apple doesn't use open source as a dumping ground. Darwin is live code. It's maintained, because Apple is using it today.

    The thing is, it's just not as simple to give code away as many people think it is. Certainly not for a large, publicly-traded corporation.

    -jcr

  • by IntlHarvester (11985) on Monday October 04, 2004 @11:56PM (#10436454) Journal
    A) Doesn't fit in Apple's transition towards consumer electronics.
    B) High R&D investment required to get it up to modern standards
    C) Virtually Zero installed base, zero app programmers. Only demand is from the Apple Freak crowd, who is just as likely buy a highly profitable VideoPod (etc) with their $500.
  • by mcdesign (699320) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @12:18AM (#10436553)
    D) Steve found out what the profit margin per Palm sold was.
  • Re:You forget... (Score:2, Informative)

    by David Rolfe (38) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @12:27AM (#10436607) Homepage Journal
    Just to chime in here... I stand kinda between your two stances. It was pretty common knowledge/speculation in the press at the time that Newton was killed by Jobs in a little tit-for-tat to Sculley. The evidence I bring is this, at the time of the MP2100 Newton was going to be spun-off or sold outright (the evidence is in the MP itself, it has a round spot for the Newton lightbulb logo below the screen, but instead a rainbow Apple is shoe-horned in instead and 'Newton Technology' is silk screened on the top as an afterthought -- the first Newtons has the rainbow Apple molded right into the case). There were a couple firms lined up to buy but they couldn't get a commitment from Apple on the terms or sale or whatever. This waffling or whatever was seen as a result of Jobs coming on. So the story goes that Jobs just let it get cut (for business reasons like you say) instead of letting the tech survive as a cash trade to some other company. The weird part is -- Jobs is said to have been enamored with the eMate, so I don't think it was all 'meanness' that let the Newton go. The spirit of the eMate seems to have lived on with those clamshell iBooks :-p, obviously not in any material way, just in a kind of ethereal way. :-D

    So anyway. I was sad to see it mothballed and I'm sad that Jobs isn't interested in tablets/pdas every time I use my Newton. Jobs said "it's not a computer without a keyboard" somewhere back then, and I kinda think this sums up his attitude to this day.
  • Re:My question is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by threephaseboy (215589) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @12:34AM (#10436651) Homepage
    It was a motorola dragonball processor, a derivative of the 68k
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @12:37AM (#10436669)
    ...is that the Newton sucked.

    Trust me, I had to support that piece of crap. They tried to make it fancy rather than easy to use. All it succeeded in being was buggy.

    And the hardware, oy! It kept getting bigger and bigger til it was as big as a much more capable notebook. Palm did it right, make it simple, small, and make sure it works! Create a useful organizer for the many people with computers.

    No, leave the Newton in its grave where it deserves to be.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @12:39AM (#10436676)
    NewtonScript has a Pascalish interface, an unusual Prototype-style OOP model, first-class functions, closures, and Lisp-like s ymbols.

    In NewtonScript, objects are dictionaries which hash arbitrary things, each keyed by a Lisp-like symbol. The symbols are the slot names in the object. Functions stored in the objects, when called as methods on the object, automatically have access to a variable called this which refers to the object itself, and their scope automatically includes the object. A particular symbol, _proto, is used to key to an object called the "prototype" or "proto" (or nil if there is none), and another symbol, _parent is used to key to a prototype called the "parent" (or nil if there is none).

    When a method refers to a slot in the object, here's how lookup is done. First, we look in the object. If it's not there, we look in its proto. If it's not there, we look in the proto's proto, and so on up the "proto chain". But it doesn't stop there. If we haven't found it yet, we look in the parent. If not there, then the parent's proto, then the parent's proto's proto, and so on. Then the parent's parent, the parent's parent's proto, the parent's parent's proto's proto, and so forth. So the lookup path resembles a comb.

    Yes, bizarre. Why two ancestry pointers (proto and parent)? In NewtonScript, if you set a value in an object, it's set in the object: if the value was set in any protos, it's not changed there. But if an object has a parent, and you set a value in the object, the value in the parent is set as well (if it exists in the parent). Thus proto inheritance allows for polymorphism and sharing of defaults which can be overridden without hurting the ancestor; but parent inheritance allows for sharing of variables. Clever, but convoluted. In reality Newtons rarely used parent inheritance (widgets had parents, but that was somewhat of a different thing).

    Because methods are first-class objects, they can be created at any time and can have closures, exactly like in Lisp. Thus Paul Graham's Accumulator Generator in Lisp is written as

    (defun foo (n) (lambda (i) (incf n i)))

    And in scheme it is

    (define (foo n) (lambda (i) (set! n (+ n i)) n))

    But in NewtonScript it's particularly pretty -- indeed it's the prettiest thing on his web page (I know: I provided it!)...

    foo := func (n) func(i) n := n + i;

    Functions (which is all a method is) are all anonymous in NewtonScript. They're created with the func declaration which looks like func (_args_) BLOCK where BLOCK is either _statement_; or begin _statement_;* end The last statement in the function's block returns the function's value (unless there's a premature return statement).

    Thus the above code says "set foo to a function taking an argument n. That function returns another function which takes an argument i, adds it into n, and returns the current value of n".

    Pretty indeed. Essentially identical to the lisp code.
  • Re:You forget... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @03:53AM (#10437346) Journal
    That's absurd. See the iMac G5, which can be basically fully dismantled by the user, without voiding the warranty.

    -jcr
  • by Strider- (39683) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @04:14AM (#10437396)
    Actually, the HWR in OS X *IS* the very same Rosetta HWR engine that was in the MP 2100 (The printed/mixed engine). It even has the same easter eggs as the Newton does. Just write "Rosetta! Rosetta! Rosetta!" and it will recognize it as "Rosetta! Rosetta! Hey that's me!"

    Unlike the cursive recognizer, which was developed in Russia, the Rosetta engine was written and developed in-house by Apple. If you do a search, I think that you can still find the ACM papers written by the guys who developed the engine. It's an interesting mix of Neural Nets, traditional HWR, and dictionary based guessing of the words.
  • Newton history (Score:3, Informative)

    by metamatic (202216) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @08:34AM (#10438210) Homepage Journal
    Before Jobs came back to Apple, Newton was spun off into its own company, Newton Inc. It wasn't losing Apple any money; it was going to stand or fall on its own merits, and was apparently making a small profit. So there was no financial need to first re-absorb the spin-off company and then kill it.

    If you look on eBay, you can find Newton-branded Newtons as well as pure Apple-branded ones.
  • Re:Nesting emulators (Score:3, Informative)

    by OwnedByTwoCats (124103) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @10:02AM (#10438803)
    Seriously, I've had a 60 MHz Power PC emulating a Moto 68000 emulating a 65c02. At about real speed (1 MHz).
  • Re:Still viable (Score:2, Informative)

    by gearry (28838) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @10:29AM (#10439121) Homepage
    You're second wish is at least partially met by DateBk [pimlicosoftware.com]. It has the added advantage of a linux desktop app that uses the DateBk extensions, J-Pilot [jpilot.org]
  • by David Rolfe (38) on Tuesday October 05, 2004 @11:54AM (#10440215) Homepage Journal
    That's great information. However, in practice I find the recognition more accurate on my Newton than using Ink with a tablet. Maybe if the visual feedback were one to one like with a Cintiq or something ... you know ... maybe it's just me. :)

    Another obvious link between the Newton and Ink are the gestures, all pretty much the same.

    I'm using 10.3 right now, so Tablet out --
    here let Me test the Easteregg:
    RoseHa! RoGeHa! RoseHa!
    Let me try again more carefully
    Rosetta! Rosetta! Rosetta!
    Ok. I'm going to try one last time.
    Rosetta! Rosetta! Rosetta!

    Huh. I couldn't get it to do it in the Inkpad window (with the nice lines and 'script' font).

    Oh well -- maybe you can show me some proof of that with an URL. Cheers.

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