Newton: back from the dead

While I haven’t been to a computer fair for several yonks they always seem to feature a table in the corner where men in beards exchange anecdotes and spare parts about their customised Sinclair QLs or BBC Micros. I am now slightly concerned I’m heading that way, having recently subscribed to the NewtonTalk mailing list…

It’s the busiest list I’m on (which is saying something) and is full of Apple Newton “enthusiasts” (as such retro-geeks are termed) talking about syncing Newtons with various hard- and software, the best kind of holster and, inevitably, the possibility of Linux on the Newton. A UK Newton list just started this week.

Wired News had a story about people using Newtons in August, and I’m amazed how much software has come out recently. I saw the iTunes Newton plug-in page a while ago and thought it was a hoax. Apparently not. Use it with the Newton MP3 player. Then there’s a Newton VNC client which lets you see your desktop PC’s screen (there’s at least one Mac OS X VNC server). And also: an application for syncing your Newton with a Mac’s iCal and Address Book applications; an application for installing packages (software) on your Newton from Mac OS X; a driver for using wi-fi cards with your Newton; software to let the Newton use ATA storage cards (apparently this is handy); and a cut-down Java Virtual Machine.

Which all makes me want to get my old Newton 2100 from my parents’ and get playing. In my addled fervour I think it’d be cool to do something like hook it up to a wireless network and use it, via VNC, to act as an iTunes remote controller. But rest assured, I won’t be going completely native.