On 27 February 1998 Apple Computer, Inc. announced that they were ceasing all development related to the Newton. This page is black to mourn the loss of this unique platform.
When I first started working in hospitals full-time in 1994, I realized that I would have a problem: for the first time in many years, I would be separated from my beloved computing devices for many hours (sometimes days) at a stretch. Fortunately, Apple Computer had recently released the Newton MessagePad. I scraped together what seemed like an impossible amount of money and bought a MessagePad 110...
...and soon felt as though I had wasted a big chunk of badly-needed cash. The Newton seemed to do almost everything almost right. It worked just well enough to tempt me to try to use it, and just poorly enough to frustrate me when I did. I almost gave up, but soon -- between a variety of third-party solutions and my own growing knowledge of the machine -- the Newton became an indispensible part of my medical education and practice.
When folks saw me on the hospital floor with my Newton, or heard that I was using it in health care, I found that I was fielding more and more questions from those interested in using the technology to improve patient care. In October of 1995, while rotating through an Indian Health Service hospital in Chinle, Arizona (go there if you can!), I put together a list of frequently asked questions about the Newton in health care, which I called the Medical Students' Guide to the Newton.
At about the same time, Apple released Newton 2.0, a greatly enhanced version of the system software for Message Pads. Newton 2.0 obviated much of the original Medical Students' Guide to the Newton; the Newton is now a useful tool right out of the box, and no special software or expertise is needed to make it work. On the other hand, the number of health care specific applications for the Newton has skyrocketed, and I see more and more Newtons every day on the hospital floor. I continue to publish the MSGN both as a reference for those who are using earlier versions of the Newton software (Message Pads prior to the 120 cannot be upgraded), and as a clearing house for information on medically relevant products.
What folks keep asking for, though, is a detailed description of how I actually use the MessagePad (I'm now up to an MP-2000) in my practice. It is so much a part of my life that I find it difficult to enumerate all the things I do with it, but my latest attempt is embodied in A Day in the Life of my Newton.
I have also developed some macros for GestureLaunch which I have found to be useful in practice. My clinical templates for basic histories, physicals, and other kinds of notes are finally available online, as is a collection of totally random clinical pearls from my notepad.
mind & body | hearth & home | old & new | computers & communications | words & ideas
Date created: March 8, 1996
Last modified: August 14, 1999
Copyright © 1999 Ron Risley