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Hi,

I just got a non-working Newton MessagePad 120. Anybody has any suggestions on making it work again? Can the battery be replaced (especially with normal alkaline battery)? 

Any suggestions welcome!

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I have tried replacing the main batteries, removed the backup battery, and still did not see any image. Press reset does produce a nice beep sound, but that's it.

Is my unit dead?

The main batteries can be replaced with normal alkalines with no problems (although it should work fine with an external power adapter).  You may need to replace the backup battery as well (DL 2032 I think?).

Check out http://www.pda-soft.de/hardware.html for lots of useful troubleshooting information.

Good luck.

Following your advice I saw this: do you know why step c) is necessary? I will go and hunt for backup battery tomorrow. a), b) been done.

a) If you have a memory card installed, remove it. Some cards can be killed by the hard reset involved in the following procedure.
b) Remove the main batteries and the backup battery.
c) Press the power switch and put something between the switch and the case to keep it pressed (use a piece of paper or cardboard folded to the required thickness).
d) Leave the Newton alone for a day. Ignore anyone telling you 15 minutes will be enough, leave it alone for a day.
e) Make sure both the main batteries (non-rechargeable alkalines, do not use rechargeables) and the backup battery are fresh. In this context “fresh” means at least 1.5 volts each for the alkalines, at least 3.0 volts for the backup battery. 
f) Remove whatever you used to hold the power switch down and install the backup battery.
g) Install the main batteries.

You are draining the capacitors of any remaining charges to hard reset the PRAM.  Of course, I'm not entirely sure about the PRAM, I am sure about the capacitor drain.

So step c) is necessary?

I would say, yes.  Which why they made the comment about waiting a day instead of 15 minutes. Since you have to look for a BUB anyway, lock that puppy down.

OK, I have already clear everything (except the power switch thing) for a day. So I do this and wait for another day to clear?

A question - is there any indication that the Newton is switched on? When I press the reset button I can hear a beep, so this indicates that the Newton is still alive?

I have done everything - the Newton sounds a beep and a chime... and nothing appeared on screen. Changed the contrast and did not see anything.

So I assume the Newton is alive but the screen is dead. Sad.

Keep doing hard resets every now and then! You never know when it might pop back to life.  This happened to at least one listener in the early days of RMC.

And when I owned a working MP130 back when it was almost new, I had to do two hard resets over the next couple of years for no particular reason when everything decided to stop working (no display, no activity when I slid the power switch).

Thanks! How do you do the Hard Reset? Or just a simple reset?

In Apple documentation I found this for hard reset - but how do you do step 4/5 without a display?

1. Remove any PCMCIA storage card that may be in the MessagePad.

2. Press and hold down the Reset button in the battery compartment.

3. Continue holding the Reset button and pull down on the power switch. Continue holding the Reset button down for 2 seconds.

4. Release the Reset button, and continue holding the power switch down until a dialog box appears asking: "Do you want to erase data completely?"

5. Tap on the "Yes" button when it asks to erase data. This erases all user data in the internal memory and sets the Newton OS back to factory defaults.

Aaargh. Right. Shows you how long it's been since I've owned a Newton. I guess you're stuck, then. Maybe it's time to cannibalize another Newton with a dead motherboard but a working screen.

So sad.

Really wanted to show my kids how Newton works...

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