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1. I think you must mean a 2100.

2. The language is in rom. I don't think it can be changed. (I could be wrong, but see #3).

3. Sell it on eBay Germany (Austria & Switzerland too) and buy another one. Virtually all young or youngish middle Europeans have some English, so language is no barrier. I gather that the German MessagePads are rare. You could most likely buy two English-language Newtons for what you'd get in Euros or Swiss Francs for a German one.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I have never dealt with a MP120 personally, but it does have a socketed ROM, meaning that you can pull it and replace the ROM chip with another from (ideally) a MP120 that had been upgraded to Newton OS 2 (much to be preferred to the earlier version 1.3) — and also, by so doing, change the operating system to English. As you are scarcely going to get the chip new from Apple these days, what you would need to do is to get your hands on a beaten-up MP120 with those specs, take the two machines apart, and tinker. Probably this would cost $20-$25 all in from eBay, and mostly likely you could sell the German ROM on to someone in Europe wanting to get an old MP120 from the States working in German. (We like to recycle and/ or pass these things on to other collectors around here.)


Would it it be worth the fuss? That only you can judge, but as this is presumably for fun rather than for daily use, why not? On the other hand, as a long-time Newton user, I'd advise getting a functional MP2000/2100 instead if you want to see what the mature Newton platform is capable of doing. The MP120 is for all intents and purposes the last of the original MessagePad recensions and is not an especially capable device, even when running version 2 of the OS.


There are reasons that the Newton failed commercially: one is that the price was inflated, but in addition, there was the inadequacy of the MessagePad 100-120s themselves. With the MP130, and especially the MP2000/2100, things improved — hugely, with the 2xxx series — on the technological level, but by then the game was up, and in 1998 the plug was pulled on the Newton, which had originally been intended to bring about a similar revolution to the innovations of 1984. As we see from iPod, iPhones, Blackberries, et al. ad nauseum, the strategy was not a bad one, but was timed about a decade too early.


Recently, I re-watched one of the old Knowledge Navigator promotional videos. One of the things that struck me was how much of it was prophetic (e.g., not just the gee-whiz of handheld video conferencing, but internet-based research in scholarship — ProQuest, anyone?), and how so many of the technological innovations of Apple during the next few years were related to the new handheld device strategy: e.g., I think that the early voice recognition and text to speech technologies were intended to be developed — and improved — so that, when the CPUs we are using today came along, really amazing things could be done. I came away thinking that Sculley was a visionary after all.

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