I got a flash back to the past today — and not in a good way. Way back when I was really getting started in the handheld computing world, I was immersed in the Apple Newton. Whatever you thought about the Newton at the time, there was no question it changed how we viewed handheld computing. The Newton made a serious attempt at bringing inking and handwriting recognition into the real world. The term “PDA” was also born to describe the Newton, at least I remember that to be the case.
One of the sources of information I followed religiously was “Newton Notes in Pen Computing Magazine.” Editor David MacNeill started the column right after the release of the Newton and kept the good coverage coming until the demise of the gadget. I respected the good job that MacNeill did for the magazine, and it was an inspiration for me to pursue the work I do now.
The uniqueness of the Newton has an appeal even today, and you can still buy them. There is even an online presence still active, even though the Newton died in 1998.
What does this have to do with anything? I got some sad news today, and it brought it all back with a vengeance. David was hit hard by the economic crisis, and a series of events has seen him fall on hard times. He lost his job, moved across country only to find that job no longer existed, sued them for moving expenses, and then an accident left him with huge medical bills. The end result is he can’t find work, and he’s moved his wife and daughter full-time into a 300-square-foot RV.
Apparently, there are quite a few people in the same boat (or RV), as David and ABC did a segment on families that live in RVs. The segment centers on David and his family and how they are doing whatever it takes to keep going. I wish him and his family the best and hope that things turn around quickly for him. He touched me with his Newton Notes column way back when, and I thank him for that.
UPDATE: David MacNeill is now a songwriter/ musician and has a web site. Listen to his music, and if you like it, then buy it.