Posts tagged “folklore”.

‘The Alternatives are a Real Step Backwards’

October 28th, 2011

Paul Potts, in a write-up over at

The Newton programming application, although flawed, gave us a taste of what software development could be – faster, more efficient, allowing us to focus more on ideas and design and less on mechanics…I think the end result is that we will continue to pursue handheld applications, but not with the gusto, and certainly not with the enjoyment, that we once did.

Perhaps not until iOS, that is.

Thanks to my podcasting partner David for pointing out another great post over at The site has a few Newton-based essays, and they’re pretty great.

How Newton handwriting recognition works

July 16th, 2008

Andy Hertzfeld\'s legends of Mac

From Paul Potts, back in 1993:

Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, Jabberwocky, begins as follows:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

This is fun nonsense, but interestingly, nonsense can teach us a bit about how the very first MessagePad’s handwriting recognition software works, by bringing about some “worst-case scenario” behavior. Handwriting recognition was one of the features of the original MessagePad that was perhaps too strongly hyped with respect to what it delivered, while the improved recognizers in later models never received the public credit they deserved.

Potts explains in this story how word lists and dictionaries can affect how the Newton translates handwriting. Interesting reading. And while you’re at it, check out the rest of Folklore – Andy Hertzfeld’s compendium of early Macintosh stories.