From On The Go Magazine, October 13, 1993

Newton Notes

Messaging Card and NewtonMail: We pick up and deliver

©Copyright 1993 David MacNeill

It’s all about staying in touch, isn’t it?

I’m talking about all this intelligent-personal-wireless-pen-based-digital-assistant-communicator stuff that everybody is ready to spend thousands on. Get organized, work smart, stay in touch, anytime, anywhere, etc.
It starts with the cellular phone. At first you think it’s just for emergencies. Then you decide it’s way cool to call your significant other while you are both driving home from work. Soon you start calling people you just never seemed to have time to call before, like your sister in St. Louis.

But the real dependency starts when people start calling you. Suddenly, you are available for comment. You are there for people because you are needed right now. They just tap their communicator and they’re chatting with the captain.

Babbling Stuff
It isn’t long before you realize that communication is a necessary feature in the devices you carry with you. But now you have all this stuff, each with its own weird nicad battery discharge-recharge cycle. What’s worse, these devices can talk to the world but not to each other. Your pager, your organizer, and your notebook computer just don’t speak the same language. What’s a tech-nomad to do?

Get a Newton MessagePad, a Newton fax modem, a NewtonMail account, and a Newton Messaging Card. These devices combine to produce a slim, easy to use, fully integrated digital communications system. Throw in the indispensable cellular phone and you’re wired. The total system weight is less than two pounds, including spare nicads, recharger, and an AC adapter!

Newton: Just buy it
I won’t detail the insanely great features and benefits of Apple’s Newton Intelligence technology--their promotional people are doing just fine without my help. Bottom line: If you are reading magazines like On The Go, then you should just buy a Newton. You’ll also need Apple’s little fax modem, so get it with the Newton Communication Kit bundle, (1) because it’s cheaper, and (2) because I don’t think you can buy the Newton fax modem separately right now, anyway.

To be honest, you can’t buy a NewtonMail account right now, either. It’s in the final beta testing stage, however, and should be available in November. NewtonMail is an inexpensive new email service offered by the Apple Online Services group. NewtonMail supports all the Newton data types: recognized text (including all formatting), digital ink, and object-oriented (spline) graphics. Send a note and the recipient gets an exact copy of the original. Newton users can communicate nationwide with other Newtons, or any conventional personal computer using NewtonMail’s text-only mode. Tap your outbox Send Mail button and Newton dials your local SprintNet access number, sends your messages, then downloads any new mail you’ve received. Internetwork gateways allow seamless access to existing online email services, including Compuserve, America On-Line, AppleLink, and the Internet. NewtonMail is cheap, effortless, and obviates the need to carry a seven pound notebook computer around just for email. You don’t really need 87 PostScript fonts, Microsoft Word, and a 10 inch screen to read a two paragraph message, do you?

Messaging Card: Beeper on steroids
You can buy Apple’s new Messaging Card, today. It’s a PCMCIA (People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms) card with a little head housing the AA battery and the antenna. The Messaging Card can receive messages either by itself or while it’s in the Newton. When you slip it in, all your alphanumeric pages appear in your inbox, totally integrated into your Newton data world. Currently, pages can be up to 256 characters long, with mixed upper and lower case supported. Your people can page you conventionally by dialing an 800 number and entering a call-me number message from a phone keypad, and there’s a voicemail option if they want to leave a recorded message. They can also dial an 800 number to give a text message to an operator, or modem it directly to the transmitter by using the $30 MMS (MobileComm Messaging Software) communication utility on either a Mac or a PC. I have reason to believe there is a Newton version of MMS in the works, too. I’ll write about it here when I know more.

Less is more
With the rig I’ve described, you have two or three fewer things to worry about, and a lot less stuff to haul around. Men, the whole thing, including a phone, fits in a small man bag, like the Scully (I’m not kidding) brand you’ll find at better luggage shops. Black leather and black chrome, elegant and bulletproof. Women, consider the same bag. It’s compact enough to fit in a bigger bag if necessary, and it looks businesslike when it’s out. My fiancée carries her rig this way and loves it.

Staying in touch, and looking cool, is what it’s all about, right?

Dave MacNeill is a teacher, consultant, and marketing director for the IconoClass in Sacramento, a Macintosh, Windows, and Newton training center: 916-443-2527.