Is Apple bringing back the Newton as a touchscreen?

A Newton UMC

We’ve heard these rumors before. However, it bears mentioning that Apple could be working on a Newton Touch ultra mobile computer (UMC). According to ComputerWorld it’s credible enough to blog about the rumor mill anyway.

Back in the early 90s, Apple created one of the first PDAs and called it the “Message Pad.” Newton was the operating system and that name stuck. The Newton was really ahead of its time, with handwriting recognition software and a small on-screen pop-up QWERTY keyboard. Software included a calendar, notepad, a calculator, and even a utility for sketching drawings digitally. It quietly died around the beginning of the new millennium due to it’s Apple-esque high price point and handwriting recognition software that just didn’t make it. Still, the Newton enjoys an underground cadre of devotees that keep it alive and much of the OS was spring off into other Apple products including the iPod.

Which brings things back full circle. Word on the street is that Apple is looking to Balda, the same company that provides it’s iTouch/iPhone touch screens for a 5.2″ 800 x 480 pixel touch screen design. This will enable Cupertino to create a UMC that one holds like a PSP, but uses like an UMC. And with it’s touch screen technology matured, the UMC won’t have anything but a virtual qwerty keyboard to operate from. Still, if it is real and becomes as popular as the iPhone, could it be the precursor of the long awaited Mac Tablet?