Before the Mac there was no skeuomorphism, because there was no graphical user interface. For almost thirty years the iconography of desktop objects have greeted users as they stare into their computer screens. The desktop metaphor has given new computer users a familiar foundation to ground their experiences upon, and expert users terminology such as “files” and “folders” we still use today.
Brushed metal, DVD players, and even the calculator – Brand shows that skeuomorphism is nothing new for Apple.
Even the Newton had its share of skeuomorphism, with the lined paper metaphor greeting us in the Notes app.
Seriously, after using Todoist for a few months, I switched full-bore today to Nitro
On the surface, it looks and behaves like Things for Mac: projects, drag-and-drop to-do items, automatically-generated Next Steps – lots of good GTD stuff that Todoist never gave me.
I’m using the Chrome version at work on Windows. It gives me just the right amount of flexibility and agility to get all my stuff in order. Visually, it’s just what I was looking for.
The Chrome extension is a free install, but I loved it right away and chipped in a few bucks. They give you the full functionality of the app right from the get-go – something Todoist never did. I think that’s worth rewarding.
And the Dropbox syncing is something I’m going to try, especially on the go for work stuff.
All in all, it’s fun experiment: take a tech journalist who has no direct experience with the Newton, and have him use it. Even better, McCracken’s MessagePad was practically new out of the box.
This section on battery life caught my eye:
20/20 hindsight may make the MessagePad’s screen look worse than it seemed in 1993; its battery life, however, benefits from a couple of decades of diminished expectations. Back in the 1990s, people squawked that the MessagePad H1000 drained its four AAA batteries too quickly. I found, however, that I could go for a couple of weeks on a set. In an age of smartphones that conk out after less than one day, that was more than enough to keep me happy.
Isn’t it something how our expectations have changed?
As a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut — until Challenger, and then my mom said I couldn’t be an astronaut. So instead of being a space explorer, I turned into a space scholar. Instead of lionizing John Glenn, or Sally Ride, I looked to Carl Sagan as a role model.
Thing is, we still have room for both kinds of heroes in this country. We just need the willpower, and the budget priorities, to make it happen.
With Egg Freckles focused on longer-form pieces, Brand says Mac Floppy helps him get creative with shorter pieces on classic Mac software.
“A lot of people grew up staring at a Macintosh with a monochrome 9 inch screen,” he told me. “I am hoping to collect some of those memories from the Macintosh community by sharing screenshots from my early Mac software collection. If everything goes to plan we should see the comments start to fill up with recollections from other users.”
Brand is looking for guests posts, so let him know if you’re dying to write about an old-school application.
This lovely image comes courtesy of John Carey over at fiftyfootshadows. Carey shares desktop images available for download — and boy, is this one gorgeous for all kinds of reasons. Says John:
I came across an opportunity to take this old Mac out back and shoot it recently. We were cleaning out old storage space and came across our Mac graveyard of sorts. Also In there was a Cube and moving head iMac. Good stuff.
In honor of today’s iPad announcement, here’s another Newton appearance on a “worst of tech” appearance — this time on Bloomberg’s Tech’s Biggest Broken Promises slideshow:
Known as Newton, the name of its operating system, the line of Apple handhelds set out to revolutionize computing with its touch-screen and handwriting-recognition software. The technology was so bad in the $700 debut models that it became the butt of “Doonesbury” jokes: “I am writing a test sentence” became “Siam fighting atomic sentry.”
Right. Bloomberg throws the Newton a bone by lumping it in with other “heavily hyped products that were ideas ahead of their time” — the like Betamax.