Panic Blog

From the desk of Steven
Portland, Oregon 97205

Newton Never Dies

This is extra-curricular, but we thought you might find it interesting.

Einstein is an open-source project to run (via emulation) the Newton OS on modern hardware. It was written and released by Paul Guyot several years ago. It’s quite an amazing piece of work.

The project got a shot in the arm earlier this month when Matthias Melcher got it up and running on iOS and posted a video of himself running it on his iPhone. Being a Newton fan since my original MessagePad in 1993, it was quite a sight to see.

Matthias mentioned he didn’t have an iPad yet, so I grabbed the source and built it for my iPad so I could take a little movie and share:

Since then, I’ve been graciously granted the ability to contribute changes to the Einstein code base. My work has so far been limited to just helping out with the iOS port. I don’t yet know much about the guts of the emulator.

The last couple of evenings and very early mornings (not during Panic hours!) I’ve helped get the existing CoreAudio sound driver working on the iOS build, and made some tweaks to allow the virtualized Newton to run at any screen resolution. In this video, it’s running at the iPad’s native resolution of 768×1024, but you can also run at the original 320×480 scaled-to-fit.

To answer the most common questions:

  1. At this time, they can’t release a binary of the emulator, because it currently requires the Newton ROM image to be compiled in. Obviously, nobody has the right to distribute the ROM image except for Apple. The plan is to change things around so you can dump the ROM from your own Newton, and side-load it into the app via iTunes’ file exchange feature.
  2. The emulator is a bit slow and occasionally glitchy. It runs at maybe half the speed of a real Newton. But I hear there are a lot of optimizations yet to be made, which should vastly improve the situation.
  3. It’s not completely tied into the iOS hardware yet — for example, a physical iPad keyboard won’t work, and it doesn’t yet read the time and date from the iPad, and so on. The to-do list is long, but the progress is exciting.
  4. There is probably not even a remote chance that they will let this on the App Store.

Regardless, I hope you enjoy this blast from the past — proof that, no matter how “obsolete”, it’s very hard to kill a technology that people are passionate about.

Posted at 1:08 pm 32 Comments

Alex Guichet

9/17/2010 1:20 PM

It would be interesting to see how well this works with a stylus (one of the ones that work on the iPad and such). If it works well, than I would definitely install this. This looks awesome.

Damn, it. Now I’ll have to buy an iPad. :)

Sonny Hung

9/17/2010 1:53 PM

Hey Steven,

Thanks, this is such a nice quick snippet which wets the pallet ever so well.
I would hope that it would run reasonably fast soon, because I’d then migrate to an iPad for all my functions – Newton New Hardware Lives Again would be my motto! ^_^,
This is what I’ve come to expect from Newton Die Hards…

Attention people, we have a blogpost by Steven! There’s even the signature!

Grant Hutchinson

9/17/2010 5:55 PM

The buzz on the NewtonTalk mailing list is reaching a fever pitch because of your contributions to Matthias’ iOS port. Thanks, Steven. Now, off to buy another iPad … just to run me some Einstein.

JongAm Park

9/17/2010 6:55 PM

Wow. However, the Notes program on iOS already has the Newton-like icons and behaviour!
How did they do this? Amazing!

Wow. I’m suddenly glad I never gave away or sold my MP2000. Awesome news – and thanks!

Woo-hoo! I recently dusted off my eMate and started using it to write again…meanwhile, my Newton, which I never really stopped using, still holds my contacts and a lot of other nifty programs I just have never found a replacement for.

This really gives me hope. Yes, the iPod and iPhone are great, but people who never used the Newt just don’t have any idea how awesome it really was.

Great Work. Brought back some memories. Still have my 2100 MP and a lot of HW and SW. Would be great to have on the iPhone, iPad. Keeping mine jailbreaked. Just in case.

Should be nice on a iPhone insted on a iPad. Much more Newton screen size

This is awesome news. I still have my three aging Newtons and I can’t wait to transfer the soul to a new machine. Thanks to all the people involved in the project.


9/18/2010 11:06 AM

This is so utterly cool. I’m downloading this the second i get an ipad. which is currently projected to be somewhere i february. I personally never got to use the messepad so to get this second chance is . But the handwriting looks awesome!

Great. Go on!
I am an early newton user and I think the ipad is on the right way to become like a newton :-)

Michael Johas Teener

9/18/2010 4:15 PM

I love this! I was a bit heartbroken when Mr Jobs killed the Newt … Even though I completely understood the reasoning. I am *definitely* getting this … A good reason to keep my iOS Dev account alive.

So Glad I copied my Newton and Emate ROM’s. Even though i don’t know where they are anymore I can still keep them alive in the future.

WOW. This is a very good project.
I like it.
When will you release it?
All the best

So are we gonna get Transmit for Newton at last?

Awe man… I wish I had never sold my Newtons. I regretted it the second after I made the sale many, many years ago (they were already very out of date at the time, but still useful).

I can’t wait to check this out. I assume I need to be jailbroken to use it…

Thanks so much for sharing…

THIS is what it means to be a Mac user :-)
Brilliant! I want it on my iPad ASAP :-)
Michael…in Japan.

Ron Hutcherson

9/20/2010 8:41 PM

The Newton OS on that iPad is just beautiful.

This is awesome. I’ve owned 3 Newtons and still have my MP2100. I’ve never been interested in jailbreaking any of my iOS devices, but this… yes, I would jailbreak my iPad for this. :) Keep up the great work!!!!!!!

Bloody awesome. I love the way it correctly scales the Newt interface to the full size of the screen. I assume if you have paid your developer fee ($99) you will be able to upload this to your iPad via the SDK? The $99 would be well worth it to get the Newt onto the iPad. This will be especially cool if they release the rumored 7″ iPad.

Christopher Beckwith

10/1/2010 12:09 PM

Insert Facebook Like Button! =)

Barnaby Walters

10/17/2010 3:06 AM

“no matter how “obsolete”, it’s very hard to kill a technology that people are passionate about.”

Can I quote that, please? I’m currently building a website that is is extremely relevant to!

Noah Ramon

10/18/2010 12:44 PM

Oh, please PLEASE implement Egg Freckles!

Jeffry van der Goot

11/9/2010 5:45 AM

What is that song playing in the background?

Good choice of text; I have that script memorised for my eventual Nobel acceptance speech. I would give my firstborn child to be able to run Newton OS on my iPad (assuming all efforts at birth control failed up until that point, it’s a better deal than a traditional adoption.)

I have a MessagePad 130 (and a 110 which I wiped to sell it to someone who turned out to be a fraud, and then left behind when I switched countries) and an eMate, all secondhand and obsolete when I bought them, but I got so many comments from people who thought they were amazing new devices. I recently bought an iPad, ostensibly to replace my eMate (they should really target iPads at education too) but really so I could make this little homage with the MessagePad 2000 box I found: (I was tempted to make that a link on the word ‘homage’, since Grant Hutchinson proved that links are possible here, but I can’t decide whether to try html or some kind off bbcode.)

Great! How fast is it now, on the iPad 2?

Great of course! Can you tell us what’s happening now? Any progress? How about iPad 2 tests?

I’ve got it running on both my iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Speed is still not there as yet, but it is always good to get my long lost Newton back on new hardware.

Still own MP2100

Thank you guys!


3/26/2012 5:03 AM

this is an app i would pay handsomely for! please please!

The Newton style on iOS IS nice but Not the importent Thing, more importent IS the handwriting recognision, is’nt there a posibility to implementier it on an iOS App., as Exempel an Text Editor?