My new laptop

Apple eMate 300 an Apple eMate 300.

The eMate is the keyboard-equipped cousin to Apple's groundbreaking but unsuccessful Newton, and it's one of those gadgets that's remained desirable in its (in computer terms) old age.

I've considered buying an eMate on eBay, but I don't really need one, and the bidding usually goes much too high for my essentially idle interest in the things.

Now, though, this eBay seller here in Australia has, after reading the above-linked column, kindly sent me one of the eMates he's selling, for free.

The engraving on the underside of my eMate tells me that it and its brethren came from Mount Riverview Public School. Where, if the condition of the thing is anything to go by, nobody got much use out of them.

(Now some kid who used this very eMate when she was in fourth grade is going to e-mail me and tell me how much she's enjoying her career as a barrister.)

It's not surprising that the eMates didn't get used a lot. Half-assed ineffective school computing schemes are still extremely common today, let alone ten years ago - but it's still a shame. The eMate remains a very competent assistant to a "proper" computer, at least for people like me whose needs stop at "Palm-ish sorts of jobs, plus a keyboard".

(Yes, Newton enthusiasts, I am aware that the Newton has some features, even if they were a bit slow, which other PDAs still haven't matched.)

The eMate is a product from the Golden Age of Apple, when they were concerned that mere high prices and IBM-incompatibility weren't always enough to prevent people from buying their computers. So sometimes, Apple simply refused to sell things to ordinary consumers.

Lots of regular people would have loved an eMate. The mere fact that it's still quite useful today ought to make that clear. But Apple wouldn't sell you one unless you managed to persuade them you were part of the "education market".

(More recently, they did the same thing with the early eMacs. Then they sobered up and started selling them to everyone.)

Now that I've got my eMate, I feel morally obliged to walk out into the bush with it and spend more hours writing something than I could using either of the other (working) portables in this house. I'll have to rebuild the utterly dead '97-vintage battery pack before I can take it anywhere, but that's no big deal. Even getting data on and off of the thing shouldn't be too painful, since the eMate has an IrDA transceiver.

(It's got a PCMCIA slot as well, but you can't plug any old laptop Ethernet card in there and expect it to work.)

I'll let you all know how I get on with my new toy.

6 Responses to “My new laptop”

  1. chronoso Says:

    you bought an emate? niiiiiice. i would love updates on it, especially since getting my newton 2100 to do much of anything with modern systems and networks is painful hassle. as is finding information written more recently than the last time the olympics were in your country..

    just...dont go shooting at it, despite its kevlar construction

  2. Jax184 Says:

    I would suggest that you look into the screen cable problem before you start giving it too much love. If the screen still works properly now, you should really go inside and adjust that screen hinge so that it's still working fine later on. Getting a new screen cable is a kind of fun you don't want to have.

    As for getting that thing online, a lot of common 16 bit 3com cards will work with it, along with the ever wonderful lucent orinoco wifi card. At least I think the Orinoco drivers will also work with the emate. I had a 2100 which I used one with for quite some time. Was a wonderful little machine.

    If you have a love for strange little almost laptops, I've been using an HP Jornada 728 and an NTT DoCoMo/NEC Sigmarion 3 for the last little while. They're both really cool little machines, even if they do run Wince.

  3. phrantic Says:

    Wow, haven't seen one of those bad boys since primary school. You've certainly brought back some memories!

  4. trouserlord Says:

    Dan, I too admit desiring the the objects of my youthful computing affections, buying the VZ-200 of my dreams only a few years ago..

    Fortunately I went through school before half-assed ineffective school computing schemes became fashionable. The decision to replace our school's three Apple IIs and two minimaps (anyone ever heard of these??) with a room full of networked Microbees might be viewed as a mistake in hindsight. I still loved those things, and who could've known that within a few years the IBM clones would rule the world and Microbee would be bankrupt.

    Now if only I could find a decent Microbee for a non-stupid amount.. Surely there must be some forgotten stashes of these things somewhere?

  5. Stark Says:

    Hey Dan, If I'm not mistaken I think I have a couple (probably 5 or 6 actually) of old Lucent Orinoco cards (the Gold model even) laying around in the storage room here at the office. If you think they'll work for your new toy I'd be happy to send one or more of 'em to you. Assuming I can find them of course... the storage room (aka Teh Mausoleum) is... well.. a violation of the known laws of physics as far as I can tell. It holds far more than any space of it's given volume should be able to hold. In no particlar order either... but, still, I'd be happy to take a look. Mail me if ya want one.

  6. Jax184 Says:

    I've got a pile of them as well, but shipping all the way from Canada would cost a bit.

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