News reprinted: two Newton bits

Periodically, when I have time, I browse my archive of vintage magazines (mostly MacUser and MacFormat) looking for interesting bits of information to reprint here, of course related to the scope of this blog.

Inside the March 4, 1994 issue of MacUser I found a couple of things related to the Newton. The first is the announcement of the MessagePad 110, and the second is about a useful PCMCIA made for the Newton that I didn’t know about. Here they are:

Apple tackles handwriting in restyled MessagePad 110

Apple has launched a new MessagePad, despite disappointing sales for the original PDA. The MessagePad 110, codenamed Lindy, is expected to cost £599, and will feature improved handwriting recognition, more storage, longer battery liffe and a sleeker design.

Unlike the first MessagePad, which was made by Japanese consumer giant Sharp, the 110 will be manufactured by Taiwanese company Inventec and, according to US sources, Lindy will answer some of the problems that have dogged the MessagePad.

Lindy improves handwriting recognition by allowing users to jot down messages in digital ink which can be converted into text later. It also comes with 1MB of built-in RAM, effectively tripling the storage space available compared with the MessagePad.

The device’s AA batteries store more power than the AAA batteries of the original MessagePad and will come with an optional stand (similar to those used by mobile phones) for recharging the batteries (nickel cadmium) in around four hours.

US sources suggest the MessagePad will be an inch longer, slimmer overall and be tapered in the middle, in response to complaints from customers that the original was too wide to hold comfortably. The device will boast a Type II PCMCIA slot.

Like rival product Zoomer, from Casio, the 110 will come with a folding cover which protects the LCD screen by snapping onto the back when the PDA is in use. And it features a spring-loaded retractable pen which squeezes into a small slot which replaces the present long stylus.

However, sources report that the Lindy’s screen is four pixels shorter than the MessagePad, which suggests that some of the few existing PDA applications may not work properly.

Sources close to Apple suggest Apple is also likely to install other software improvements in Lindy’s ROMs available as upgrades for MessagePad owners in exchange for a nominal payment.

The Economist slots into world issues on Newton

Apple has launched The Economist World in Figures on a PCMCIA card for the Newton. The launch is the first of 12 titles to be published this year by Apple’s StarCore group.

The project was researched and compiled by The Economist and consists of world rankings and country-by-country information on subjects including population, economic performance, currency exchange rates, climate and social mores. It covers 60 countries and will be updated annually.

Loading the card into any Newton provides access to a straightforward interface for searching user-defined groups by map or by index. So, for example, users can look at the population in G7 nations or define a specific group and obtain similar information. Information culled can easily be extracted, faxed or printed directly from the MessagePad.

Marjorie Scandino, chief executive of The Economist, said this was the group’s first information age launch. The publication is now considering how this and other titles could be developed for online services.

Apple claims 80,000 Newtons have now shipped, a conservative figure compared with original forecasts. But the company expects forthcoming titles — such as the Time Out London Guide, Personal Time & Billing, and Presenter Pad — to fuel an increase in sales. World in Figures costs £74.95.

Needless to say, I’m interested in this special card for the Newton. If anyone owns it or other titles mentioned in the article, please let me know. I would love to try them and maybe write a review.

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