Newton “Batmobile” Prototype

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    This is a pre-release model of Apple’s OMP (Original MessagePad) including the extremely rare ‘Batmobile’ screen cover. The front of the case is marked ‘Newton’ in the location where the shipping models of the OMP and the MP100 (MessagePad 100) were marked ‘MessagePad’. This particular unit is currently nonfunctional. In fact, I’m not convinced that it ever worked, as it is labeled “Technical Sample Only” on the back.

    This Newton is marked with the number ‘46’ in three places … in the top right corner on the back of the case (view here), inside the battery compartment, as well as on the back of the battery compartment lid (view here). The ‘Batmobile’ screen cover is marked with the number ‘39’.

    According to the previous owner, this unit was used in a 1993 television game show called ‘Quest’. A contestant was given a video camera and a prototype Newton, competing in a high-tech scavenger hunt around San Francisco. The Newton was used to feed the contestant clues. ‘Quest’ is mentioned in the book Defying Gravity by Markos Kounalakis and Doug Menuez.

    This item is part of a collection obtained from John Venzon, August 2002.

    Suse_Berlin, @Jonathen Adkins, and 81 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 14 more comments

    1. Tim Holmes 52 months ago | reply

      That's not a photo of the prototype you are referring to is it? It looks like a release model. The "batmobile" prototype is shown here:

    2. macewan 52 months ago | reply

      Don't laugh but my Newton still works.

    3. splorp 52 months ago | reply

      @mrfresh Nope. The Newton on the MacUser cover is either — as you describe — a prop, or another engineering prototype. Note that the screen cover is hinged like the MP110 and later models.

      @mathias You mean like this?

      @strolling My pleasure.

      @tim That’s another one of the several “Batmobile” style prototypes that circulated prior to the Newton‘s launch in 1993. That particular model is perhaps the most famous … with it’s hinged and rather curvaceous lid. It appears in the Defying Gravity book as well.

      @macewan Nobody’s laughing here, especially me. I still run a web server on one of my MP2100s.

    4. MrFresh 52 months ago | reply

      Macewan, we're smiling with u about that...just like u are!

    5. Klinkenslugger 52 months ago | reply

      The original prototype Newton slates were code named 'Brick' - I had two & both of them worked the last time I fired them up ~12 years ago...

    6. Pyrofer 52 months ago | reply

      I had/Have all the newton models up to the 130 (never could afford a 2000 or above. Ive got a couple eMates now too.
      My kid loves the eMate, perfect kids laptop and cost a lot less than that vtech rubbish.
      The newton failed because it was too far ahead of its time, people just didnt see the potential and Apple gave up. Microsoft persisted with the windows devices when Apple stopped, and look what happened. The PDA revolution. If only Apple had tried just that little bit harder what could have been? iPhone in 1998 anybody?

    7. Copperhead Design 52 months ago | reply


      How about photos of the whole thing AND the back?

      It's unfortunate that Apple didn't wait to release the Newton until AFTER they had improved the handwriting recognition. The first version was awful and the press had a field day.

      Luckily, with Steve jobs return to Apple, they've rarely misstepped like that.

      The Newton was an amazing device, which would do well even today (of course with wi-fi, Bluetooth, color LCD, etc.).

    8. splorp 52 months ago | reply

      @klinkenslugger Are you referring to the larger, tablet-sized Newton Senior prototypes? I thought that ‘Bic’ and ‘Cadillac’ were the only code names for those. Or were the ‘Brick’ prototypes the size of the OMP? I don’t suppose you still have those prototypes, do you?

      @pyrofer It was unfortunate that certain decisions were made to kill the Newton project — just when the platform was gaining significant traction in education and other important vertical markets. I could have succeeded, but it wasn’t given the chance.

      @copperhead I’ve been documenting all of my prototype and development Newtons over the past couple of weeks. Don’t worry, I will be posting several images of each device, including this one. Regarding Apple’s ‘misstepping’ … mistakes always seem as though they could have have solved easily in retrospect.

    9. Klinkenslugger 52 months ago | reply

      @splorp oops, Freudian slip - Bic is correct!

    10. Be Somebody Or Be Somebody's Fool 52 months ago | reply

      Lovely. At the time, Apple may have decided they couldn't afford to wait for perfection. That was a rough decade for them.

    11. Mark Ellison 52 months ago | reply

      Cool old school apple logo! so colory

    12. infodriveway 52 months ago | reply

      You’ve been Fireballed. Great pic, by the way…

    13. ardgedee 52 months ago | reply

      A friend went to the first Newton developers conference and came back with one of the Newton prototypes. I remember him saying that Apple was giving them away to attendees; some were carved from wood. The case on his was a greener color than the Newtons that shipped. He still has his, somewhere, along with at least one of every official Newton model.

    14. jpatrickhunt 52 months ago | reply

      I wish I still had my Newtons. Are they still in use at the Air and Space Museum in DC?

    15. splorp 52 months ago | reply

      @klinkenslugger No worries. Every once in a while I come across another Newton-related code name that I’ve never heard of. “Brick” is definitely feasible.

      @feras Luck, and a healthy PayPal account.

      @somebody Sometimes you need to push projects out the door and tidy things up later. Unfortunately for the Newton, it took too long to tidy up every little thing before the project was Steve’d.

      @mark You gotta love the rainbow.

      @infodriveway I noticed. Zoinks! Gizmodo’d, Tumblr’d, and Cult of Mac‘d too.

      @ardgedee That’s some interesting information. I didn’t know about the wooden prototypes, other than the display models that were used for tradeshows and retail stores. Ask your friend if he’d be interested in selling his prototype … we should talk.

      @patrickhunt I haven’t heard whether they’re still in use there, but I would assume that they’ve been retired long ago.

    16. sonnyhung 52 months ago | reply

      @patrickhunt - Just wanted to chime here on this topic. Here is a link to something that speaks about the use of Newton

      Petrosains Project

      Because of this comment I just decided to call a contact regarding the above mentioned link because it reminded me to follow up on it. What I can tell you is that they are in fact still in use (at least a Petrosains) to this very day from my source. I will try to update with more pictures and other interesting facts, items and possibly interview(s) regarding this.

    17. splorp 52 months ago | reply

      Thanks for pointing to that project, Sonny. I actually thought about Petrosains when I read Patrick’s original question and had meant to drop you a note about it. I’d love to see an update and some current photographs of those red-swaddled Newtons.

    18. sonnyhung 52 months ago | reply

      @ slorp - So am I ^_^,

      I'm clasping my hands tightly that I might get an actual unit in my hand to photograph and possibly own. I will hopefully be able to write up a historical report on it if I'm able to interview them. To bad I'm having to sell my collection of Newtons soon to bank roll my camera upgrade and pay bills but such are the decisions in life :|

    19. splorp 52 months ago | reply

      That is unfortunate, but please let me know what you’re selling. I may be interested in a few items to fill in the gaps of my collection.

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