kalleboo's retro tech blog

The Newton "Getting Started" card (and CalliGrapher game!)

The Getting Started Card

As far as I can tell, these were only included with the original MessagePad (H1000) and not any subsequent ones. The apps on it do not even fit properly on the display sizes on any other model.

I never had a Newton back in the day, but I did have a Palm, which had a game called "Giraffe" you could play to practice handwriting in Graffiti, which was a great introduction to practice with!

The Newton also had a similar game, called "CalliGrapher" (which is the same name as the handwriting recognition system itself, which Apple licensed from a third party). As far as I can tell, this game was only ever included on this "Getting Started" card and was not distributed in any other manner. I can't find any downloads or even screenshots of it online (I'd love to be corrected if I'm wrong - Fediverse @kalleboo@bitbang.social), so I decided to buy a card in order to play the game (and extract it to upload online!)

The software included on the card

The welcome dialog when you insert the card (or reset the Newton with the card inserted)

CalliGrapher Game

Download for Newton: CalliGrapher.sit 65 KB (containing CalliGrapher.pkg 141 KB)

Let's start out with the Game, as that's the fun part!

On launch, it asks who is playing so it knows if it should let the OS learn your handwriting style or not.

The game is simple. You start out with a bunch of barrels(??) on the bottom of the screen. A word starts falling down from the top of the screen and you have to write it correctly to clear it.

If you succeed, the letters turn into bombs which fall down and clear out the barrels they hit.

If you don't complete the word in time, it hits the bottom and becomes more barrels, filling up the screen (similar to Tetris)

Newton Tour

The Newton Tour is a quick guide that shows you how to get around the Newton OS as well as the very basics of handwriting.

The Handwriting Instructor

The Handwriting Instructor shows you how to write, change mistakes, erase text, as well as showing tips and tricks for things that the handwriting recognition will trip up on (like going back and writing the dots over i's last).

One of my pet peeves about YouTubers "checking out the Newton" is that none of them have read any manuals or tried any tutorials, so they don't realize that typing funny words and memes that are not in the dictionary will never work, and that they need to double-tap the word to teach it.

Part of this I blame on the fact that the Handwriting Instructor isn't built-in to the Newton OS, and this card was not included with later Newtons (and would have been lost by the time someone these days got their hands on a Newton)

Last updated: 2023.2.22
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