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Eudora Returns... on the iPad

One of the most popular Macintosh programs of all time will be resurrected this weekend when Apple ships the iPad. Eudora, the venerable email client created by Steve Dorner while at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1988, purchased by Qualcomm in 1992, and maintained through its eventual demise in 2006, will return to life as a free iPad-only app. An undergraduate interning at Qualcomm named Paul O'Walty, while engaged on some cleanup of the Eudora group's revision control system, discovered the Eudora source code and decided to port it to the iPhone OS, with the specific intent of seeing if he could get it to run acceptably on the iPad.

Although Qualcomm has reportedly signed off on the release of Eudora for iPad, due to O'Walty's reliance on the open-source aspects of the Eudora code base and use of the Mail framework on the iPad, he did admit to some trepidation about whether or not Apple would approve Eudora for iPad, since it replicates the functionality of the iPad's Mail app. Eudora will be available only for the iPad; it wasn't practical to convert it to the small screens of the iPhone and iPod touch.

From what I've seen of the beta O'Walty sent me, Eudora on the iPad will look and work as much like the classic version of Eudora as possible given the iPad's multitouch interface. Standard Eudora features like a message preview pane with content concentrator (for showing threaded messages without displaying quoted content) convert well to the iPad's 1024 by 768 pixel screen, which, if you think about it, is significantly larger than the screens commonly available when Eudora was first developed in 1988. Also, the Mailbox and Transfer menus work much as they did in the Mac version, providing quick, hierarchical access to mailboxes without wasting screen real estate on unwieldy panes like other Mac email clients. Fortunately, one of my favorite Eudora tricks - Option-clicking on a piece of metadata in mailbox windows to select messages with similar metadata - is available when the iPad is outfitted with a keyboard via either the iPad Keyboard Dock or a Bluetooth keyboard.

O'Walty admitted that he had to cut some corners when porting some of the last-century Eudora code to run on the iPad. Although Eudora for iPad looks and works much like the classic program, some of Eudora's traditional - and much-vaunted - flexibility is missing. Most notably, although the essential option "Waste cycles drawing trendy 3D junk" remains (and checking it does reduce Eudora's performance on the iPad), the vast majority of Eudora's 1,031 x-eudora-settings options haven't yet been brought over from the original code base.

Nevertheless, for die-hard Eudora users, the release of Eudora for the iPad will recreate a familiar and highly productive environment on the new computing device.


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Comments about Eudora Returns... on the iPad
(Comments are closed.)

Julian Y. Koh  2010-04-01 05:13
What about Moodwatch? Also, I can't live without x-eudora-setting:319=32.

Joe Izen  2010-04-01 05:43
Does Eudora for iPad maintain the standalone Eudora Nicknames file and it's addition of freeform text notes to a nickname? Does it import these from the Eudora 6.2.4 Eudora for MacOS client? I am not aware of any of the post-Eudora import routines that preserve the notes in Eudora Nicknames. I have too much important information stashed in my Eudora Nicknames file to give up on Eudora 6.2.4. Could Eudora for iPad be my path forward, nickname notes and all?
Nofe Yule  2010-04-01 06:16
This is great news! Perhaps it will mean that we'll have a version of Eudora ready for the release of Mac OS XI (which I hear is due for release on this date in two years time).
Guy Plunkett III  2010-04-01 06:21
Oh cruel pranksters that thou art ... to tease me thus with no true recourse!
Paul O'Walty  2010-04-01 06:24
Julian, Moodwatch is coming in the next rev; I've almost got it working. And once I do, I'll enable x-eudora-setting:319.

But at least I got x-eudora-setting:133 in there!
Dennis B. Swaney  2010-04-01 06:27
Oh, how I wish this wasn't an April Fools joke!

Gary Plunkett has it right: thou art cruel pranksters. :(
Richard  2010-04-01 06:39
Wow! I luv Eudora! I'm still running it on my PowerBook G4 with OS 10.4.3, but I've just purchased a new iMac with OS 10.6.3 and, from what I understand, Eudora will not run on this operating system. So I'm glad to here about the iPad version. Maybe Paul O'Walty will continue with the thought of again making it workable on laptops and desktops. One can certainly hope, anyway!
Kathy Morgan  2010-04-01 20:38
You hear wrong. I'm using Eudora very happily on Mac OS 10.6.3.
This is the meanest, cruelest, most unfeeling prank that TidBITS has ever perpetrated. I WANT to believe...I WANT to believe soooo much...

"Option-click on metadata", please don't taunt me with the blissful memories of this glorious feature. It only serves to remind me of others, like the simple manner in which i could perform very complex & precise searches.

[Drifts off into a sweet reverie......]
George Chase  2010-04-01 07:01
This IS an April Fools Joke isn't it?
Michael H.  2010-04-01 07:38
Oh, that's hilarious.

I'm still using Eudora 6.2.4 on my Intel MBP, OSX 10.6.2. It works almost flawlessly for me. Why change? Option-Clicking in message lists is still a joy. So, yes, there was a moment when I wanted to believe...

Love the part about the screen size, too.
Tonya Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-04-01 10:21
It's so fun when old software comes back to life. Like when Microsoft revived Word 5!
Glenn Fleishman  2010-04-01 10:24
You fool! You outed our secret plans! Curses!
David O.  2010-04-01 13:13
Best April 1 story I've read in years. Thanks.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-04-01 13:44
I think the only way we could have topped it would have been to write that Word 5 was coming back (see Tonya's link above), but that would just be too mean. We'd be hunted down.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-04-01 13:52
The anguished email that Tonya still gets in response to that article is amazing...
Brian Stegner  2010-04-01 18:28
Well, it's a mean joke, but what the Hell! As for those who "miss," and/or refer to, a variety of Eudora features (like the fastest search in any e-mail app before and since), I have great (real) news for you:

You still can! Eudora 6.2.4 still runs splendidly on OS 10.6.3. And the rest of you can have your Apple Browser, oops, I mean "Mail."

P.S. You don't need Searchlight, either. No joke.
Wonky Jack  2010-04-03 04:37
Thanks Brian. Glad to know it still works with 10.6.3 ... I have been searching for that information these past few days before taking the leap. I still find it a bit wonky in 10.6.2 (sometimes loses track of things when I transfer multiple messages between mailboxes) but I have learned to adapt to that wonkiness ... still beats the competition hands down.
OK, lets get this straight. Was this an April Fool's joke, or not?
Eudora is the best Email program for the Mac, for the simple reason that it works perfectly, and simply, and has more features than any other. If one has thousands of emails, this is the only way to go.
Probably the best feature it has, is to provide you with the capability to rename the Subject of an in-coming email (to more accurately reflect it's content), and, as well, to edit the content of the message, (in order to strip out, or modify), when intending to archive. Entourage, I believe, is the only other capable of this. It's one of the most used features. If only Mail had this capability!
Tom Casselman  2010-04-01 21:14
If this is not a joke it proves April is the cruelest month. Those of us who have been waiting for a Eudora native to OS 10.x.x have been praying with every new OS release that Apple doesn't drop Rosetta. Then, Eudora will no longer work at all. Today, Eudora clones just don't meet the usability and ease of the old Eudora 6.2.4. The result would be that we users will be stuck with an inferior mail client like Apple Mail.

What surprised me i why the new Eudora is only for the iPad. Why not for OS X? There is plenty of money to be made with a native Eudora. The developers could probably charge $100 and make a considerable fortune since much of the basic code is available to them.

Ah well, it is another example of the user being screwed if 1) its only for the iPad and/or 2) it was never intended for OS X.
Matthew  2010-04-01 21:58
I'm still waiting for a decent threaded email app. We really will need one on the ipad. I hate not having one on the iphone, but it's going to be intolerable w/o one on the ipad. I get way too much mail to deal w/ each message, or a thread of a mailing list. Logs & alerts from things just scream for threading.. Oh well...
This has been the most excruciating experience to believe Eudora was reborn, and then see the wickedness of the TidBits authors. If only there was some way this could be made true. I will send The Phantom on to you all, that will fix you!
Neil Ticktin  2010-04-01 23:01
You are cruel.
Roger D. Parish  2010-04-02 05:12
I hate April Fool's Day! Except that it is my beloved wife's birthday.
Derek K. Miller  2010-04-02 20:06
This will be my favourite app, right along with Microsoft World 5.1 for Mac OS X:
Chris Beaton  2010-04-24 07:06
I've been running Eudora for years. Great program. Am running right now on my Macbook runnng 10.6.3 and it has always functioned perfectly.
Two questions: 1) Can you configure ports? 2) Can you not delete email from the server? Use iPad while traveling but have all the emails on your primary computer when back home.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-12-09 05:42
You might want to look at the date on this article, Peter!