from original by cogdogblog
After a long break, I’ve started running again (that’s another yet blogged bit, but not the point today), and am doing so listening on the iPOd to Chris Anderson’s book Free on audiobook (the one I packaged from his free mp3 recordings)
So there’s a section where he’s talking about Moore’s Law and how computing power has become almost free (the part of figuring a transistor costs $0000000.something was powerful). In the 1960s access to the CPU was guarded by sys admins so thus the use of CPU cycles was designed to be sparse. A few pioneers wondered what it would take to move beyond this, what Chris as “wasting” CPUs essentially using more of it than just for tasks, and some envisioned even then that it would be a computer in the home.
Yet no one could figure out what anyone would do with a computer, so the very first home computer…. was designed to organize recipes– the Honeywell H316 — which was a dismal flop.
Here’s the gap I did not hear as Anderson described what it took- he leaps right to Alan Kay’s concept in 1968 of a Dyanbook which used CPU power on user interface, icons, mouse action, etc.
Anderson completely ignores that already in December 1968 Doug Engelbart and his team at SRI had already built and demonstrated by this time — Anderson somehow ignores the Mother of All Demos http://sloan.stanford.edu/MouseSite/1968Demo.html probably the most amazing demonstration of modern computing interface and network principles in an era when computing was done on a mainframe with punch cards.
Doug Engelbart must be the most un-credited and overlooked pioneer in any field. And that is a shame. Free is a great listen/read so far, but this gap to me really jumps out. Maybe someone more learned can tell me that I am over reacting, but till then, I’m out there pounding the pavement with my iPod on.