Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Feb 2013 09:04 UTC
Apple John Gruber illustrates the dangers of not having a clue about history: "The utter simplicity of the iOS home screen is Apple's innovation. It's the simplest, most obvious 'system' ever designed." Thanks for playing.
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henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

That's a picture of the control panel of the Newton. This is what the Newton's home screen looked like:


Hold on... as someone who actually owned a Newton Messagepad 120 and used it quite a lot, you are wrong. The NewtonOS had an app drawer where all of your installed apps lived. That is what looks identical to the earliest PalmOS devices. It was a tray with a grid of icons. Yes, the NewtonOS opened in the notepad app (because it was a "notepad", DOH!), but if you wanted to use any other apps installed (and the Newton had a pretty vibrant 3rd party app community at one point), you opened the app drawer and launched them from there. So, yes, the Newton "launcher" looks exactly like the PalmOS home screen. There you go. This doesn't even take in to account that later versions of the NewtonOS didn't even launch the notepad by default and instead showed you the launcher straight away (e.g. eMate 300.)

EDIT: Some could also argue that the way the Newton filtered the apps in to categories was wholesale stolen by Palm for PalmOS 3.0, because PalmOS 2.0 (and prior) sure as hell didn't do that, they instead scrolled (rather awkwardly) the launcher up/down to get to the app you wanted. I also owned (and still do) a Palm Pilot Pro, so I could probably even get pictures, if proof was required. I used to install third party launched on my PP just to be able to manage the mess that the launcher was in.

Edited 2013-02-20 12:59 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The central point of interaction on the Newton was the notebook. That was its central metaphor. I have a 120 right here, and what you're referring to is the 'extras' folder - which contained a bunch of utilities like a calculator, and settings panels. It's a small aspect of the notebook metaphor - not a central one like it is on iOS or Palm OS. That's because NewtonOS is built around the notebook - not around applications. It's not application-centric.

It's a fundamentally different paradigm.

Yes, the eMate opened the drawer by default. This was after the success of the original Pilot.

Edited 2013-02-20 13:03 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

'extras' folder - which contained a bunch of utilities like a calculator and such.


And all other third party apps. The NewtonOS also categorised those apps (you could go in and choose which category they lived under), which PamlOS didn't do till PalmOS 3.0.

Yes, the eMate opened the drawer by default. This was after the success of the original Pilot.


Well, maybe the cynic in me sees the Palm Pilot and thinks "clever Palm, they took the Extra's folder idea from the Newton and ran with it - good on them." Because that is an absolutely valid angle to take. Just because you want to support your premise by dismissing a completely valid prior implementation (and no one here is claiming Apple invented that design, just that they used it before Palm) I think you're being very short sighted. For any user (e.g. me) who owned a Newton and *didn't* want to use the Notepad, the extras folder/app drawer was KEY to using the device, no matter what you claim to the contrary.

Edited 2013-02-20 13:07 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Speaking as a former Newton developer, I'd disagree with your characterisation that Newton OS as not being application-centric and built around the notebook.

Newton OS was most definitely built around apps. Notepad was just the default app - later versions of the OS would let you swap that default to any other app. If you set Dates (for example) as the default app then Notepad would turn up in the Extras drawer and you could launch it from there.

The three main apps (Notepad, Dates, and Names) were all separate apps. The OS supported a 'windowed' view system, so Names would sit above other apps - and smaller 'utility' apps were not forced to run full-screen.

The OS was a highly dynamic object-oriented environment which would let third parties build extensions for the inbuilt apps. For example you could have extensions that would add new "stationary" types to the Notepad, or new card types to the Names app. All data was stored in "soups" - a dynamic OO database system. There was an OS-wide extensible "routing system" which was how you'd send emails, print, or fax - routing extensions were automatically made available in all apps.

In many ways it was a significantly more advanced OS than anything we have today. I often wonder what it would have developed into had it not been canned.

Reply Parent Score: 4