[SATLUG] Re: mobile devices with linux

Brad Knowles brad at shub-internet.org
Wed Jul 30 01:18:43 CDT 2008

On 7/29/08, pixelnate at gmail.com wrote:

>  I was only able to purchase one a couple of years after it was
>  discontinued.

I've still got a couple of Newtons, and I bought them when they were 
new.  They were damn bloody expensive.  Too expensive.  That was one 
of their biggest faults -- Apple could never have sold them at 
anything remotely resembling any kind of reasonable production 
numbers, or with anything resembling any kind of profit.

>                    They were hella expensive when new. They were game
>  changing devices that El Capitan killed when he was brought back into
>  the fold. He has made *many* good decisions since returning to Apple,
>  but killing the Newton was not one of them.

I disagree.  The Newton was much too expensive, and much too large. 
You couldn't get the kind of functionality they wanted in a pocket 
device at the time, so you had to go with a tablet size instead. 
Tablet size electronic devices didn't work for the general market 
then, and they don't work for the general market today.

Moreover, Apple was not in the position to be able to go into 
vertical markets like healthcare, where thousands of hospitals across 
the world could afford to buy hundreds of units at thousands or tens 
of thousands of dollars each, all to run their critical custom 
software that has to be implemented on portable clipboard-like 

Palm was able to prove that you could do a smaller and simpler device 
that would do the easy 80%, and cost a hell of a lot less to boot. 
That harder 20% just had to wait a few years, until mobile CPUs got 
fast enough and batteries advanced to the point where they could 
deliver a lot more power over time.

I don't think Apple would ever have tried to go that direction, 
precisely because it meant throwing away most of what had been 
developed for the Newton.  So, their option was to kill the Newton or 
to keep it alive, but they couldn't have made the kind of radical 
changes that Palm showed were actually the way that things needed to 
go at the time.

>                                                Contrary to what he says,
>  the stylus is not dead and handwriting recognition (the good kind like
>  on the Newton, not all attempts since) is the killer app. Crappy
>  onscreen keyboards are a major step backwards from natural handwriting.

Styluses get lost, and they get screwed up.  They actually are a bad 
physical interface for humans, and you're much better off being able 
to completely change the electronic interface so that you can get a 
better paradigm for a physical interface that works much better for 

Apple has been able to do a lot of that so far (because they own the 
OS and the hardware), and everyone else in the business is continuing 
to try to chase Apple's tail.

Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>

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