Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Featured Items: Newton MessagePad 110

by Charlotte Wipp

Newton MessagePad

The MessagePad 110 pictured here was the second of the Newton line. In 1993, it sold for $699. The device was popular at first: around 50,000 were sold by the fourth month of its official release. Users could write anywhere on the screen with the stylus, which was read by writing recognition software called Calligrapher. It had modem and ethernet ports, and a PCMCIA expansion card slot. However, the downfall of the device was its power usage: four AA batteries could power it for a mere 30 hours. A "brilliant failure", as the artifact donor described it, the Newton also paved the way for many current portable computing devices. 

This personal digital assistant was donated by Donald Duff-McCracken.  

(No, this isn't really for sale!)

The Newton PDA

A personal digital assistant (PDA) was a handheld computer, and a predecessor of the modern smartphone of the early 2020s. Many PDAs had some form of stylus-based writing capability, audio, and some wired connectivity to sync with a desktop computer. In 1993 Apple entered the PDA market with their Newton operating system, which was its first line of devices with handwriting recognition software.  

About the author

Charlotte is a Physics and Astronomy student currently in her 2B term at Waterloo. She enjoys tinkering and creating all forms of art in her free time. She works at the Computer Museum as their current Winter 2024 coop student.