Gary Trudeau better get his pen ready: It’s now possible to run the Newton OS on your iPad.
The Newton, of course, was Apple’s early foray into the world of personal digital assistants (PDAs), and was seemingly everything Steve Jobs hates: monochrome, stylus-driven, and big. While Trudeau famously mocked the device’s handwriting recognition, Newton devotees have never stopped loving the device, whose development ended in February 1998—which, not coincidentally, was shortly after Jobs’s return to Apple.
A developer named Paul Guyot has released an open-source project called Einstein to run the Newton OS, via emulation, on modern devices. Early in September, Matthias Melcher got Einstein running on his iPhone. And last week, developer Steven Frank (of Panic Software) got Einstein running on his iPad.
According to Mr. Frank’s post on the Panic Blog, the emulator still runs at about half the speed of the genuine Newton article, though upcoming optimizations could reportedly speed things up quite a bit. But as you can see in his post’s video, it really is the Newton OS—complete with handwriting recognition, which ended up being much better than most folks ever realized.
As Mr. Frank points out, it’s unlikely that a Newton emulator will ever show up on the App Store. So for now, if you want to leave multitouch behind for a decidedly older-school approach on your iPad, you’ll need to roll your own solution.