Newton OS

Newton OS
Newton OS
Newton logo.png
Company / developer Apple Inc.
Working state Historic
Source model Closed source
Latest stable release 2.1 / March 21, 1997; 14 years ago (1997-03-21)
Supported platforms Apple Newton
Kernel type Microkernel
Default user interface GUI
License Proprietary EULA

Newton OS was the operating system for the Apple Newton PDAs produced by Apple from 1993-1997. Newton OS was written entirely in C++ and trimmed to be low power consuming and use the available memory efficiently. Similar to the original Apple Macintosh, many applications were written in the ROM of the Newton to save DRAM and flash space for user applications.



Newton OS featured many interface elements that even Mac OS didn't have at the time, such as drawers and the "poof" animation. These features were used in Mac OS X, along with Newton's Hand Writing Recognition (which is implemented as Inkwell in Mac OS X).

  • Sound responsive — Clicking menus and icons makes a sound, this feature was later introduced in Mac OS 8.
  • Icons - Similar to the Macintosh Desktop Metaphor, Newton OS uses icons to open applications.
  • Tabbed documents — Similar to tabbed browsing in today's browsers and Apple's AtEase Interface, documents titles appear in a small tab at the top right hand of the screen.
  • Rotate the screen — In Newton 2.0, the screen could be rotated to be used for drawing or word processing.
  • File documents — Notes and Drawings can be categorized. E.g. Fun, Business, Personal, etc.
  • Print documents — Documents on the Newton can be printed
  • Send documents — Documents can be sent to another Newton via Infrared technology or sent using the Internet by E-Mail, or faxed.
  • Menus — Similar to menus seen in Mac OS, but the menu titles are instead presented at the bottom of the screen, in small rectangles making them look like buttons.

Many features of the Newton are best appreciated in the context of the history of Pen computing, which is quite extensive.[1][2]


Shortly after the Newton PDA's release in 1993, developers were not paying much attention to the new Newton OS API and were still more interested in developing for the Macintosh and Windows platforms. It was not until two years later that developers saw a potential market available to them in creating software for Newton OS. Several programs were made by third-party developers, including software to enhance Newton's initially disappointing (in OS 1.x) hand writing recognition technology.

The basic software that came with Newton OS:

  • Works — A program for drawing and word processing, with typical capabilities such as: rulers, margins, page breaks, formatting, printing, spell checking and find & replace tools.
  • Notes — Used for checklists, as well as both drawing and writing in the same program either with a newton keyboard or a stylus pen.
  • Dates — Calendar program where you can schedule appointments and other special events.
  • Names — Program for storing extensive contacts information in a flexible format.
  • Formulas — Program that offers metric conversions, currency conversions, loan and mortgage calculators, etc.
  • Calculator — A basic calculator with square root, percentage, MR, M+ and M- functions additional to the basic functions found on a calculator.
  • Clock — A small floating window type application, known as a desktop accessory on the Macintosh. The Newton clock also included features for an alarm, minute timer and the date.

Version history

Date released OS version
August 3, 1993 1.0
October 30, 1993 1.1
? 1.2
March 4, 1994 1.3
March 14, 1996 2.0
March 21, 1997 2.1

Handwriting recognition

The Newton used the CalliGrapher word-based handwriting recognition engine developed by ParaGraph International Inc, led by former Soviet scientist Stepan Pachikov[3][4]

The earliest versions had weaknesses that resulted in bad publicity and reviews.[citation needed] However, with the release of Newton PDAs based upon version 2.0 of the OS, the handwriting recognition had substantially improved, partially being a product of ParaGraph and an Apple-created recognizer pair: Apple's Rosetta and Mondello. Newton's handwriting recognition, particularly the print recognizer, has been considered by many reviewers, testers, and users to be the best in the industry, even 10 years after it was introduced.[5]

The Newton could recognize hand-printed text, cursive, or a mix of the two, and could also accept free-hand "Sketches", "Shapes", and "ink text". Text could also be entered by tapping with the stylus on a small on-screen pop-up QWERTY keyboard. With "Shapes", Newton could recognize that the user was attempting to draw a circle, a line, a polygon, etc., and it would clean them up into "perfect" vector representations (with modifiable control points and defined vertices) of what the user was attempting to draw. "Shapes" and "Sketches" could be scaled or deformed once drawn. "Ink text" captured the user's free-hand writing but allowed it to be treated somewhat like recognized text when manipulating for later editing purposes ("ink text" supported word wrap, could be formatted to be bold, italic, etc.).[6] At any time a user could also direct the Newton to recognize selected "ink text" and turn it into recognized text (deferred recognition). A Newton Note document (or the notes attached to each contact in Names and each calendar event) could contain any mix of interleaved text, ink text, Shapes, and Sketches.[7]


Newton OS ran applications written in C++, along with an interpreted, user-friendly language called NewtonScript. These applications are stored in packages.

See also



  1. ^ Notes on the (relatively unknown) History of Pen-based Computing
  2. ^ Annotated Bibliography in Pen Computing
  3. ^ Calore, Michael (23 January 2007). "Stepan Pachikov Wants to Study Your Handwriting". WIRED. Retrieved 6 February 2009. [dead link]
  4. ^ Luckie, Douglas. "Newton Hall of Fame". Retrieved 6 February 2009. 
  5. ^ HWR accuracy:
  6. ^ Pen Computing's First Look at Newton OS 2.0
  7. ^ Read about HWR, ink text, Sketches, & Shapes in Apple's MessagePad Handbook available in Apple's Newton Manuals collection

External links

Additional resources & information


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

См. также в других словарях:

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