Posts tagged “wikipedia”.

First PDA: IBM’s Port-A-Punch

October 21st, 2008

Maybe the Apple Newton MessagePad wasn’t the first personal digital assistant (PDA) after all.

No, that designation may be reserved for the IBM Port-A-Punch (above). The Port-A-Punch was a handheld punch card marker developed in 1958 for on-the-spot data recording, like statistics and inventories.

Punching holes in punch cards was an exact science, however, and Wikipedia tells us that the punched holes were too “fuzzy” to be accurately read. Punch cards were the USB flash drives of their day, even as far back as the 1800s, storing all kind of information. It’s pretty amazing to think about, especially considering the giant stacks of cards needed to store data. There’s a spot in this computer history video where a guy trips, spilling his two-foot-high stack of punch cards and ruining an entire computer program. Whoops.

Check out more about the Port-A-Punch at IBM’s history page.

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]

Wikipedia: hitting the big time

June 30th, 2008

Newton Poetry makes Wikipedia

Many thanks and kudos to the Wikipedia editor who added Newton Poetry to the list of external links (above) regarding the online encyclopedia’s Newton MessagePad listing.

First we made MacSurfer a few times, and now this. For those of us who practically live on the internet, it’s a pretty big deal.

The origins of NewtonScript

April 9th, 2008

NewtonScript and the Newton

One of the little “to-do” items in life is some working knowledge of programming. I have no experience, besides basic HTML and CSS, and I’d love to be able to learn a real-life computing language.

While searching, I came across this Wikipedia entry on NewtonScript, the governing language of our good green friend.

Developed from a version of SELF, NewtonScript was designed by Walter Smith, who worked at Apple during the Newton’s heyday. He has a site dedicated to NewtonScript’s story.

Says Smith:

During the development effort that brought you the MessagePad, a new language–now called NewtonScript–evolved in parallel with the view system and object store. The language thrash made it possible: all those languages we looked at provided a wealth of ideas that found their way into NewtonScript. SELF was one of the primary influences.

Check out a great PDF of Smith’s findings here.

I didn’t know this, but according to Wikipedia, “the prototype-based object model of Self and NewtonScript was used in JavaScript, the most popular and visible language to use the concept so far.” I’ll be darned.