My Newton: Why I Won’t Buy an iPhone or iPod touch

I find myself once again in the deserts of the Middle East. I have been here a long time and am almost ready to go home.

One of my best friends (other than my wife, who I talk to through emails and Skype) is my Newton. I have both my PowerBook G4 and my black MacBook, but what I carry on me as part of my gear is my MessagePad 120. This is my second deployment with it, and I have it custom painted tan to match my old desert camouflage uniform.

iPod touch

In one sentence, I am waiting for Apple to replace the Newton.

The iPhone, with its email and Internet capabilities, is great, but most of Iraq doesn’t have cell towers. I need an Apple-based PDA. The new iPod touch seems good, but it’s still missing email, fax, text editing, and handwriting recognition like my Newton can do.

My Newton doesn’t have a WiFi card, but it has a good fax/modem card. I haven’t tried to get my Newton to work with Mac OS X, but it’s simple enough to store everything I need on hand in this hectic combat zone.

Things I have on my Newton:

  • Email contact list
  • Phone numbers
  • Addresses
  • Notes
  • Poems
  • Serial numbers
  • LEM articles brainstorms
  • A letter in case something happens to me
  • Unclassified job related notes
  • Training notes

I also have a few games that keep me busy.

My Newton helps me do my job better, and I keep backups of documents on my 5G iPod.

Newton MessagePad 120GIs love it when I pull out my Newton while I’m instructing or troubleshooting equipment; they often ask what the NSN (National Stock Number) – commonly know to civilians as a part number – to order one. People don’t believe me when they see the Apple logo up close and I tell them its not a piece of military gear.

I want Apple to simply update the software on the iPhone and iPod touch to have these capabilities. I would go out right now and buy both and simply take the iPod touch with me overseas.

Sadly, my Newton’s screen got crushed a few weeks ago when I had it in one of my cargo pockets and had to get in the prone position unexpectedly. I know that many people believe that the Newton is obsolete and that the only ones worth using were the 2000/2100, but I loved my MessagePad 120.

I got my MessagePad 120 in the summer of 2000 after a successful summer at the business I was running. I paid around $100 and really wanted something better, like the 130 with its backlit display or the all powerful 2000/2100, but that was all I could afford back then. And I just got used to it and never upgraded.

I already mailed my Newton with a bunch of other things home while I am in the process of redeploying. If anyone wants to say hi to boost morale, feel free to email me at mulderbean (at) gmail (dot) com.

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