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Personal(ized) History of Hypertext

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Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think” described the Memex, a mechanical desk that contained entire libraries allowing its owner to create and share lasting trails of knowledge with colleagues. This talk begins with the analog computers and microfilm readers that led to this speculative essay and how those ideas influenced digital computing pioneers in the 1960-70s: Doug Engelbart — the inventor of personal workstation, Ted Nelson — the creator of hypertext and visions of digital world containing all the world’s literature, and Alan Kay — whose DynaBook vision foreshadowed the form factors and user interface we carry around in our backpacks and pockets today.

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Personal(ized) History of Hypertext

  1. 1. Prepared by: Paul Kahn February, 2016 Information Design and Visualization, Northeastern University A Person(alized) History of Hypertext  
  2. 2. A Personal History of Hypertext — Four individuals whose work and writing inspired how we think about and  use computers today: • Vannevar Bush • Theodore Nelson • Douglas Engelbart • Alan Kay Paul Kahn  |  2
  3. 3. Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) — Inventor of ANALOG COMPUTERS for  solving complex differential equations — Engineering professor at Massachusetts  Institute of Technology 1920-1939 — President of the Carnegie Institute of  Washington, 1939-1955 — Director of the Office of Scientific  Research and Development, 1940-1945 — Founding partner of Raytheon, director of  Merck pharmaceuticals  Paul Kahn  |  3
  4. 4. Paul Kahn  |  4 Analog computers: Astrolabe
  5. 5. Analog computers: slide rule & electronic switchboards Paul Kahn  |  5
  6. 6. Analog computers: Paris Metro Paul Kahn  |  6
  7. 7. Differential Analyzer Paul Kahn | 7 Designed by Bush and Harold Hazen at MIT, 1928-31 for solving differential equations The picture is reproduced from IEEE Spectrum, July 1995 Found on
  8. 8. Paul Kahn | 8 Differential Analyzer Overall view of the Differential Analyzer.  The integrator units (six of them)  are inside the wood and glass boxes  at left, the bus rods which carry  numerical information are in the  center, and the input and output  tables are at right. In the foreground  is a numerical tabulator which  converted shaft positions to printed  numerical output. Samuel Caldwell  is standing at left.  [from David A. Mindell website (not available 2013]
  9. 9. Paul Kahn | 9 Differential Analyzer Operator's console of the  Differential Analyzer,  a literally "graphical" user interface.  The operator (at left, Samuel  Caldwell) manipulates a pointer by  hand to follow the curves on the  paper, which are then integrated or  otherwise processed by the machine,  which drives a plotter to make  another graph as output. Vannevar  Bush is looking on.  [from David A. Mindell website]
  10. 10. The UCLA Differential Analyzer — Commercial computer built by General Electric in 1947 Paul Kahn  |  10
  11. 11. Concept: A machine that solves complex problems — Earth versus the Flying Saucers (1956) Paul Kahn  |  11
  12. 12. Paul Kahn | 12 Concept: A machine that miniaturizes and displays document — Emmanuel Goldberg of Zeiss Ikon (Dresden) developed the first home- movie camera — demonstrated high-density microfilm readers and selectors in Brussels  (1931) — Build a prototype microfilm “desk” for storing and retrieving documents
  13. 13. Paul Kahn | 13 Emmanuel Goldberg’s Statistical Machine (1931) — Patent drawing for  Goldberg’s Statistical  Machine  — See Emanuel Goldberg page   — uckland/goldberg.html
  14. 14. Concept: High-speed photography Paul Kahn | 14 — Harold “Doc” Edgerton’s stroboscope for high-speed photography could  be used for precise control of light source and shutter speed — 1931: Develops and perfects the stroboscope for use in ultra-high-speed and  stop-motion photography. Forms a partnership with Kenneth  Germeshausen, an MIT research affiliate to develop further uses for the  stroboscope. Edgerton receives his D.Sc. in electrical engineering from MIT.
  15. 15. Paul Kahn | 15 Concept: Miniaturization and duplication of knowledge — Herbert George (H.G.) Wells, novelist, social commentator, science  fiction writer: The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds — Fabian socialists and pacifist — essay “The World Brain” (1937), an essay for the  Encyclopédie Française, proposed that the libraries  of the world would soon be available to everyone on  reels of microfilm  (See
  16. 16. Concept: Miniaturization and duplication of knowledge — There is no practical obstacle whatever now to the creation of an efficient index to all human knowledge, ideas and achievements,  to the creation, that is, of a complete planetary memory for all mankind. And  not simply an index; the direct reproduction of the thing itself can be  summoned to any properly prepared spot. A microfilm, coloured where  necessary, occupying an inch or so of space and weighing little more than a  letter, can be duplicated from the records and sent anywhere, and thrown  enlarged upon the screen so that the student may study it in every detail. World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia (1937) Paul Kahn | 16
  17. 17. Paul Kahn | 17 Rapid Selector Concept (1930s) — Sound-on-film development of composite 35mm film techniques throughout  the 1920s — Emmanuel Goldberg of Zeiss Ikon (Dresden) demonstrated high-density  microfilm readers and selectors in Brussels (1931) — Harold Edgerton’s stroboscope (1931) for high-speed photography was used  for rapid detection and re-photographing of coded frames. — H.G. Wells essay “The World Brain” (1937) proposed that the libraries of the  world would soon be available to everyone on reels of microfilm — Chester Carlson’s (1938) combination of electrostatic printing and  photography (xerography) to capture pages on film
  18. 18. Paul Kahn | 18 Vannevar Bush’s Microfilm Rapid Selector (1938) A machine to rapidly select documents recorded as microfilm images on reels of 35 mm movie film Coding of document topics as dot patterns on film Strobotron to fire photo cell detectors matching a topic pattern “mask”
  19. 19. Paul Kahn | 19 Publication of “As We May Think” (summer, 1945) — Bush writes “Mechanization and the Record” in 1939 and files it away — The machine he describes as the Memex (memory extender) is a microfilm rapid selector miniaturized into a desk — Features he imagines include projection of pages onto dual screens, photo annotation, xerographic input and recording trails between documents — He mentions a machine to translate voice into text (Vocoder) and a forehead-mounted miniature camera (Walnut camera) to permit “hands-free” photographic recording in the laboratory
  20. 20. Paul Kahn | 20 Concept: A machine that extends memory — Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory. It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.
  21. 21. Paul Kahn | 21 Concept: Literature accessed and linked by a machine — Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client's interest. The physician, puzzled by a patient's reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.
  22. 22. Paul Kahn | 22 Concept: navigational links as trails — The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only on the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world's record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.
  23. 23. Illustrations for As We May Think (1945) — The essay is published in July 1945 in The Atlantic Monthly — An illustrated version of the essay appeared in LIFE Magazine in September 1945 Paul Kahn | 23
  24. 24. Paul Kahn | 24 As We May Think on the web today — Atlantic Monthly version rchive/1969/12/as-we-may-think/3881/ — LIFE version: Google Books id=uUkEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA136&dq=L IFE%20september %201945&pg=PA112#v=onepage&q=LI FE%20september%201945&f=false
  25. 25. Paul Kahn | 25 Memex (illustration by Alfred Crimi)
  26. 26. Paul Kahn | 26 Annotating on the screen (illustration by Alfred Crimi)
  27. 27. — Memex animation (1995) : — Bush speaking about thebrain and machines: v=iAUC7Q8C6m8 Paul Kahn | 27
  28. 28. Vannevar Bush Legacy — Bush ends his post-war governmental career as the founder of the National Science Foundation (NSF) — Rapid Selectors built in the 1950s and 1960s for the Library of Congress, Department of Navy, Central Intelligence Agency all fail to operate properly. — “As We May Think” influences the work of J.C.R. Licklider, Ted Nelson and Douglas Engelbart — “As We May Think” is reprinted and taught in Information (Library) Science from 1960s onward. — Computer Science Hypertext research literature refers to Bush’s essay as the earliest example of hypertext concept, starting in the 1980s. Paul Kahn | 28
  29. 29. Paul Kahn | 29 Theodor Holm Nelson (b. 1937) — Inventor of new poetic language including • hypertext * • hypermedia • cybercrud • softcopy • electronic visualization • technoid • Docuverse • transclusion * first appears in 1965: “A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate”
  30. 30. Paul Kahn | 30 Concept: Simple Hypertext (1965)
  31. 31. Paul Kahn | 31 Ted Nelson — Collaborator on Hypertext Editing System (HES) at Brown University (1972) — Author of “underground” computer books • Computer Lib / Dream Machine (1974) • The Home Computer Revolution (1977) • Literary Machine (1981-1993) — Introduced the concepts of Project Xanadu in the 1980s through many talks and articles in Creative Computing, Byte, and other magazines — Led the Xanadu software system project at Autodesk in late 1980s
  32. 32. Paul Kahn | 33 Concept: universal access, follow and publish links — At your screen of tomorrow you will have access to all the world’s published work: all the books, all the magazines, all the photographs, the recordings, the movies. (And to new kinds of publications, created especially for the interactive screen.) You will be able to bring any published work to your screen, or any part of a published work. You will be able to make links – comments, personal notes, or other connections – between places in documents, and leave them there for others (as well as yourself) to follow later. You may even publish these links. from Literary Machines
  33. 33. Paul Kahn | 34 Concept: digital rights management & micropayments — Royalty to each publisher will be automatic, as materials are delivered over the network. Each piece delivered will be paid for automatically, from the user’s account to the publisher’s account, when the user receives the piece sent for. Any document may quote another, because the quoted part is brought – and bought – from the original at the instant of request, with automatic royalty payment and credit to the originator.
  34. 34. Paul Kahn | 35 Harsh critiques of the file hierarchy and WWW Some recent Ted Nelson quotes: —Calling a hierarchical director a "folder" doesn't change its nature any more than calling a prison guard a "counselor". —Hierarchical directories were invented around 1947 – I should check this – when somebody said, "How are we going to keep track of all these files? "Gee, why don't we make a file that's a list of filenames?" And that was the directory. It's a temporary fix that doesn't scale up. —The Web is the minimal concession to hypertext that a sequence-and- hierarchy chauvinist could possibly make. Recent Ted Nelson books: Geeks Bearing Gifts and Possiplex, both published via
  35. 35. Ted Nelson lectures: Demonstrating Xanadu Space Paul Kahn | 36
  36. 36. Paul Kahn | 37 Douglas Engelbart (1925-2013) — Educated at University of California, Berkeley — Worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) — Published his first theoretical paper, Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework in 1962
  37. 37. Paul Kahn | 38 Concept: Augmenting Human Intellect — By "augmenting human intellect" we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble.
  38. 38. Paul Kahn | 39 Concept: engineering tools for complex situtations — And by "complex situations" we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human "feel for a situation" usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.
  39. 39. Paul Kahn | 40 oNLine System (NLS) — Augmentation Research Center developed oNLine System (NLS) in 1968 — Focus on developing new Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) models and tools — Introduced new concepts • Computers Supporting Collaborative Work (CSCW) • Bootstrapping – using the development group to test new tools • Co-evolution – the co-dependent evolution of the software interface and human behavior
  40. 40. Paul Kahn | 41 NLS (continued) — Developed the Mouse (analog pointing device) and Chord (5-finger) keyboard — The NLS system (circa 1968) also included: • Mixture of text and graphics • Hypertext links • Outline processing • View control of text and graphic data • Collaborative work space • Shared pointing device • Video conferencing
  41. 41. Paul Kahn | 42 William English at the augmentation laboratory at SRI
  42. 42. Paul Kahn | 43 See Douglas Engelbart 1968 demo (see Clips #5-8)
  43. 43. Paul Kahn | 44 Engelbart after 1968 — NLS failed due to timesharing computer technology: the more people using it, the slower it responded. — Many researchers from his laboratory moved to Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in 1971, where the mouse and the personal workstation was (re)invented — Engelbart developed Augment, a commercial timesharing system for documentation in the aerospace industry — Engelbart worked on the first network protocols for the ARPAnet, the foundation of the current Internet (early 1970s) — Engelbart created Bootstrap Institute in 1999,
  44. 44. Paul Kahn | 45 Alan Kay (b. 1940) — Worked with Ivan Sutherland (Utah) on graphics programming — Worked with Seymour Papert (MIT) on educational programming — Principal Scientist at Xerox PARC, 1971-1981 — Chief Scientist at Atari, 1981-1984 — Apple Fellow and Disney Fellow, 1984-2001 — Viewpoints Research Institute (since 2006) “reinventing programming”
  45. 45. Paul Kahn | 46 Some of Alan Kay’s Contributions — Combining cognitive science, learning theory, and programming languages — Development of Object-Oriented Programming Language – SmallTalk • Support for direct manipulation graphical objects as interface • Use of graphical icons to represent programs • Cascading menus to select actions — Interest in making computer programs as simple to use as possible
  46. 46. Paul Kahn | 47 DynaBook Concept (1972) — A Portable Computer — Powerful enough to manage all kinds of media — Simple enough to be used by children
  47. 47. Paul Kahn | 48 from “A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages” — Imagine having your own self-contained knowledge manipulator in a portable package the size and shape of an ordinary notebook. Suppose it had enough power to outrace your senses of sight and hearing, enough capacity to store for later retrieval thousands of page-equivalents of reference materials, poems, letters, recipes, records, drawings, animations, musical scores, waveforms, dynamic simulations, and anything else you would like to remember and change. We envision a device as small and portable as possible which could both take in and give out information in quantities approaching that of human sensory systems. Visual output should be, at the least, of higher quality than what can be obtained from newsprint. Audio output should adhere to similar high-fidelity standards.
  48. 48. from “A Personal Computer for Children of All Ages” — There should be no discernible pause between cause and effect. One of the metaphors we used when designing such a system was that of a musical instrument, such as a flute, which is owned by its user and responds instantly and consistently to its owner’s wishes. Imagine the absurdity of a one-second delay between blowing a note and hearing it! These civilized desires for flexibility, resolution, and response lead to the conclusion that a user of dynamic personal medium needs several hundred times as much power as the average adult typically enjoys from timeshared computing. This means that we should either build a new resource several hundred times the capacity of current machines and share it (very difficult and expensive), or we should investigate the possibility of giving each person his own powerful machine. We choose the second approach. Paul Kahn | 49
  49. 49. The Xerox Alto (interim Dynabook system) — Stand-alone computer processor connected to other disc and printers via Ethernet — High-resolution graphic CRT — Typewriter keyboard, chord keyboard, music keyboard — Mouse pointing device — See “Alto Playroom” video from Software Pioneers, Broy & Denert: Paul Kahn | 50
  50. 50. The Macintosh Child Video — Paul Kahn | 51
  51. 51. Xerox Alto’s Descendents — Xerox Star – the first office product with graphical user interface, mouse and ethernet, $20-50,000 network configuration (1981) — See Xerox Star Demo 1984 on YouTube: v=QYvxgNhUwBk Paul Kahn | 52
  52. 52. Xerox Alto’s Descendents — Apple Lisa – the first personal computer with graphical user interface and mouse, $10,000 each (1983) — See Apple Lisa Demo 1983 on YouTube: v=W35vpsPIwlU&watch_response Paul Kahn | 53
  53. 53. Xerox Alto’s Descendents — Apple Macintosh – the first successful personal computer with graphical user interface and mouse, $3,000 each (1984) Paul Kahn | 54
  54. 54. Concepts, circa 1985 — Computers as intellectual tools in business, research and education — Portable personal computers connected to the Network — Software to support direct manipulation of text, graphics, video, sound — Intuitive user interface with icons, menus, and multiple windows — Collections of documents available on the Network — Creating and following navigational links between selections in documents — No integration with telephony Paul Kahn | 55
  55. 55. Intermedia (1985-1990) at Brown University — Apple User Interface running on Unix — Network Hypertext environment with text, graphics, timeline, animation, video — Anchors and Links collected in Webs Paul Kahn | 56
  56. 56. Tim Berners-Lee World Wide Web at CERN (from 1989) Paul Kahn | 57
  57. 57. World Wide Web at CERN (from 1989) — Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP) — Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) — First browser implemented on the NeXT computer — All software in public domain Paul Kahn | 58
  58. 58. Early Web browsers: Mosaic and Netscape Paul Kahn | 59
  59. 59. Fast-forward 25+ years — All newly created music, books, photographs, film/video are digital — Over 70% of population in North America and EU countries have internet access — Integrated telephony was the Missing Link to universal access — Over 90% have a mobile device: a mobile phone — 50% of that population have a “Smartphone” — The Internet is becoming the “Cloud” Paul Kahn | 60
  60. 60. Imagining Mobile Television, circa 1947 “La télévision oeil de demain” Paul Kahn | 61
  61. 61. Paul Kahn | 62
  62. 62. rc Paul Kahn | 63
  63. 63. The Digital Library Today — Wikipedia collectively written in many languages — Random things you can find via search engines and links on the public Web (depending on what is or is not blocked in your country) — National Digital Libraries and Archives: collections of bibliographical records, images, audio-visual archives and scanned pages accessed via various Boolean database search UIs — Private digital libraries by subscription: news, business, science, law, finance Paul Kahn | 64
  64. 64. The Digital Library Today — Most “free” digital content supported by advertisements — Most people view content on journalism sites, blogs, social networks, tweets and video clips — Google Books ( Nearly every book I have written is in Google Books, but the author does not have the right to view them – access is limited to “snippet” view — Digital rights issues and payment schemes are complex and unresolved Paul Kahn | 65
  65. 65. Paul Kahn | 66 Contact Information Paul Kahn Experience Design Director Mad*Pow Portsmouth | Boston
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Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay “As We May Think” described the Memex, a mechanical desk that contained entire libraries allowing its owner to create and share lasting trails of knowledge with colleagues. This talk begins with the analog computers and microfilm readers that led to this speculative essay and how those ideas influenced digital computing pioneers in the 1960-70s: Doug Engelbart — the inventor of personal workstation, Ted Nelson — the creator of hypertext and visions of digital world containing all the world’s literature, and Alan Kay — whose DynaBook vision foreshadowed the form factors and user interface we carry around in our backpacks and pockets today.


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