[NTLK] Very ambitious idea for Newton 2011 mods....

Forrest Buffenmyer newtonphoenix at mindspring.com
Tue Nov 22 02:48:17 EST 2011

Yeah, I gotta believe that any serious changes to the Newton form factor would have to be okayed by Apple, as they still own all its patents and trademarks. It's been amusing to me that the company has allowed some of the things that have already been done...I would think that things like the ROM software patches, Einstein, the hardware additions like the Dongle Destroyer, etc. could somehow infringe on those, if they wanted to be picky about it (although admittedly they left us to fend for ourselves when they stopped supporting it). Apple has seemed to turn a blind eye and deaf ear towards Newton enthusiasts...you don't have to look very far to see what happens when it believes its property is being altered or copied (lawsuits against Psystar, Samsung and HTC, et al).

As a former semi-enthusiastic user of Sharp products in the mid- to late-90s, I can tell you that Zaurus users never enjoyed the support that we have with the Newton...and I'm fairly certain that also applies to most other types of PDAs/handhelds as well.

Just my thoughts on your great ideas for Newton improvements...most everything you've mentioned has been debated in some form at one time or another here on the List...I seem to recall that some Listers have even gone so far as to contact Apple about possible changes/revisions, only to be shot down.

Keep imagining great things though, and keep sharing them. Maybe there's an answer or solution  in some of it!


Sent from my First Generation iPad

On Nov 21, 2011, at 6:36 AM, William T <wllm_t at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Just a few comments:
> I like the AA trays. The Newton never dies, it just requires new batteries.
> Are you planning on licensing this through Apple?  
> 3D printing is rather expensive on a per unit basis, if you are planning a bulk order, then you would need a considerable amount of capital. 
> By eliminating the serial port you make current accessories useless.
> Every great thing starts as an idea,
> William ;)
> --- On Sun, 11/20/11, Michael <mlheureux at online.fr> wrote:
> From: Michael <mlheureux at online.fr>
> Subject: [NTLK] Very ambitious idea for 2011 Newton mods
> To: newtontalk at newtontalk.net
> Date: Sunday, November 20, 2011, 11:55 PM
> Look at the 2011 Kindle & imagine it were running Newton OS!
> Reading through some of the talk about running Einstein on Android, etc.,
> I've been thinking about whether it might be possible to modernize the
> actual physical Newton hardware, to keep it usable in the modern day &
> going forward as it has to compete with lighter & sleeker devices like the
> Kindle.  The goal would be to trim all of the excess bulk & weight & make a
> device using a Newton logic board that is a light and sleek as possible
> (like a Kindle or e-reader form factor, if possible) and 100% compatible
> with the original Newton.  I imagine it would be used mostly as an
> electronic notebook and an ebook reader.  The Newton is still really good
> at these tasks & if it had the right form factor, it could be even better.
> Here's what I have in mind:
> Modifications:
> 1- Replace the LCD screen with an e-Ink screen.  This would make the screen
> much, much more readable & greatly improve the usability of the device.  Do
> e-Ink screens use similar electronic inputs to LCD's?  Would this be
> possible to do?
> 2- Replace the bulky & heavy battery pack/4AA's by a slim, light modern
> battery.  Take the batteries out of your Newton & see how light it is to
> get an idea of how much these add to the bulk & weight of the Newton!
> Ideally we could replace them with one that is cheap & readily available
> on eBay (maybe from a digital camera, e-reader or something).   I imagine
> this should be possible if new charging circuitry could be installed; of
> course, the Newton OS would likely not be able to handle it, so it would
> have to be independent of the OS. If the battery & charging circuitry is
> not handled by the OS, it would mean that the machine could power off
> unexpectedly when the battery gets low.  This could be mitigated by using
> some sort of battery status indicator (LED's or something).
> 3- Install on-board storage and WiFi (& Bluetooth?) & eliminate the PC card
> slots.  The PC Card slots add a lot of un-necessary bulk to the case.  If
> we could integrate some sort of storage (maybe a MicroSD with 2 stores: one
> read-only for ATA/WiFi/etc. drivers, one for user storage), and some small
> wireless controller, we could mostly do away with the need for PC Cards.
> Bluetooth would be ideal, since it will be compatible with pretty much all
> computers in the foreseeable future (Windows 8...) without the need to
> develop new software.  Backup might still be an issue, but potentially
> mitigated if we could integrate an SD/MicroSD slot & update the ATA driver
> or come up with some other software solution to back up to it.
> 4- Eliminate serial & IR ports.  These add bulk & space, and are largely
> irrelevant in today's computing environment.  Integrated WiFi should be
> good enough for file transfers & if the drivers are permanently included in
> the device, then bootstrapping will not be an issue.  If a Bluetooth
> controller can be integrated & Blunt can be somehow updated to support
> keyboards, then we could use Bluetooth keyboards, which will be much more
> convenient & available, going forward.
> 5- Develop an ePub->Newtonbook converter.  Maybe this could be integrated
> into NCX somehow.  Ideally, the user would connect his Newton to his
> desktop computer, drag an ePub to the app & it would spit out a Newton book
> package directly onto the Newton. This app, of course, would also be of
> benefit to Newton users as a whole.
> 6- Make a new slim form-factor case to fit it all in.  Seeing as we seem to
> have some people who know about 3D modelling/printing on the list, seems
> like this might be feasible. Bonus points if it can be from a solid piece
> of aluminum, MacBook Pro style :-).
> Now that we have schematics for the Newton logic board, I wonder if it
> could even be possible to make a new revision using compatible, but
> physically smaller components, so that it would fit in a sleeker case.
> Not sure how feasible any of this would actually be, but I'd be really
> interested to hear what everyone else has to say about these ideas.
> Michael
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