Thinking about early 90s computing over the last couple years my comic drawing Incredible Doom has given me a fondness for software that seems restricting, yet is oddly focusing. Software like that these days seems like  plain vanilla ice cream. Simple and really good.

Which is why Note Pad on the original Mac OS sounds so nice.  It was about as simple as can be.

You launch it. It gave you a blank window to type on. You could store up to 8 notes, which you would flip through one at a time by clicking the dog-eared corner on the lower right.

A screen shot of the "Note Pad" desk utility in Classic Mac OS.
Note Pad

There was no search. No folders. No settings. No formatting, spell check, or grammar judgements. Just eight screens of plain text.

These days I’ve got notes in so many places. Hundreds of them. Over 600 in Apple Notes alone, never mind Notion, Byword, Drafts, Slugline, Day One, etc. I love these apps. But it’s all too common that, once I type a note, in one of those there’s a 80% chance I’ll never see it again.

It falls into a void, and I forget it’s there.

It sounds absurd, but I swear there’s something nice about an app that fills up. One that asks you to consider notes one through eight before adding another. Delete them, act on them, but at least consider them. An app that can’t balloon into a mess that you then have to manage.

That sounds lovely to me.

If you’d like to play with Note Pad, it’s emulated in a web browser by Jason Friend. Click on the Apple menu and drag down to Note Pad.