Clarke’s third law and the Newton

The magic of Newton

Arthur C. Clarke’s third “prediction law” states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

In that case, I have a magic Newton, because after showing it to my grandma the other night, she’s convinced that what it does is beyond this world.

Grandma usually has a list of “to do” items every time I visit her – take some books out of the attic, say, or troubleshoot her iMac – so I decided to take my Newton to her place to take note of these items.

“What’s that you’re using there?” she asked me.

“I call it my ‘memory box,’” I told her. “It’s called an Apple Newton.”

I explained to her how it keeps track of my calendar items, and to-do lists, and simple notes, how to recognizes my handwriting – all the stuff the MessagePad is great at.

But it was when I showed her how to erase something, and the “poof” graphic that appears when you do, that her eyes lit up.

And the little trash can that appears when you throw a note away? That was magic, too.

I even let her try the handwriting software, but her super-fancy letters bested the Newton’s attempts at translation.

“I need one of those,” she told me, for the same reason I kept it around: tons of little notes were taking over her living space.

Grandma couldn’t believe that the 110 was made in the early 1990s, and she asked why Apple would ever stop making them.

Good questions, but I explained to her that we’ve since “progressed” to the iPod and iPhone for Newton-like tasks.

“Yes, but I don’t need a phone,” she said. “I want one of those.” She was sold. And who can blame her?

Advanced technology? Maybe not, but my Newton had enough magic in it to win over one more convert.

Post a comment.