From Mac Monthly, January 18, 1995

Newton Notes:

Don’t Forget To Write

©Copyright 1995 David MacNeill

As this will be the last Newton Notes column for the foreseeable future, I’d like to share my views on the health of the Newton market in general, and tell you about some cool new software and widgets I spied at Macworld. I would also like to relate a recent success story that illustrates just how easy it is to develop software for the Newton platform using Apple’s development tools.

Alive and vertical
It seems that the reports of Newton’s death were premature. Vertical market applications are sprouting like mushrooms after a flood in a variety of markets including medical, real estate, sales, and any profession that requires fast, easy data collection out in the field. Several new off-the-shelf forms creation packages have appeared with easy links to a Macintosh or Windows database application. PowerForms, OmniForm, FilePad, and Flash-Data all make mobile data collection a reality. Newton is perfectly suited to this function: it’s inexpensive, durable, very small, light, simple to use, and can easily connect to standard desktop computers.

Motorola’s new Marco Wireless Communicator opens up even more possibilities, and delivers on John Scully’s original promise of a pocket-sized wireless information tool for everyone. Marco is essentially a Newton MessagePad 120 with a built in wireless radio modem. However expensive, bulky, and graceless Marco is now, it’s the real model for a personal digital assistant. When these things are half an inch thick, have backlit color screens, run for a week on a battery charge, come with an Internet email account, and cost less than $500, the market will explode just like cellular phones did.

Newton Utilities
Apple’s StarCore division has released a slick set of utilities called Newton Utilities (brilliant name). For the most part, these tools replicate some currently available shareware, but I find it comforting to have what amounts to Apple’s stamp of approval for OS level utilities like this. The four tools are:

Call StarCore at 800-708-STAR for more information.

The Consultant
On a flight from Denver to Sacramento, my colleague Mel Ryan-Roberts gave an impromptu Newton demo to a very interested doctor names Philip Stillman. The good doctor was so impressed with the thing he immediately got an idea for an application for practicing anesthesiologists. When Mel explained how easy it was to develop Newton applications using Apple’s Newton Tool Kit on a Macintosh, the business plan began to form. Dr. Stillman (great name for an anesthesiologist!) hooked up with a young programmer who took the Newton programming course with him. Dr. Stillman says the NewtonScript object-oriented development environment makes it very easy to construct, customize, and update a program. The result is a product called The Consultant, which is currently in beta testing phase. If you are an anesthesiologist interested in beta testing The Consultant, contact Dr. Philip Stillman at 800-638-1294 or email

Just use it
The ongoing argument over whether Newton is a business tool or a consumer product ignores what we’ve already seen happen with Macintosh and IBM clones. The whole appeal of a personal computer is its adaptability to any task. Newton is an extra-somatic brain amplifier, suitable for any job we can conceive. The computer and communications industry experts will no doubt continue this silly debate, since contention is what sells magazines. For the rest of us I propose a new motto:

Newton: Just use it!

David MacNeill is a teacher for the IconoClass, a Macintosh, Windows, Internet, and Newton training center in Sacramento, 916-565-3535. He can be reached on eWorld at davemacneill, or on the Internet at