motz
dimecres, 21. de novembre 2001

dynabook and notetaker

there is confusion. just following the question what kind of model was really standing there, in 1970 at PARC. what idea was really discussed in those days? it seems dynabook wins, but i can't give the exact answer. was alan kay already dreaming about something that can be called a pda, as other suggest, or about what later became a laptop? x or y.

"By 1976 Kay shifted his attention toward a new project called Notetaker, another notebook sized computer.
The central idea was to take a percentage of the Alto's functionality and put in a compact portable machine. The Notetaker design included a custom-built display screen that was touchsensitive to eliminate the mouse; stereo audio speakers with a built-in microphone; 128,000 bytes of main memory, a rechargeable battery; and an Ethernet port."

and:

"In 1970, Kay made sketches of the KiddieKomp, which later developed into a laptop computer called Dynabook. The Dynabook was described as a very powerful, portable electronic device that would about the size of a notebook. It would carry an encyclopedia of information inside its circuits and plug into a computer network. Dynabook was the visionary prototype of a notebook computer that was later developed by Apple and other hardware companies."

i would interpret that this source is suggesting the KiddieComp, others favour the NoteTaker.
but what was it really, that caused these stars in the eyes of the LRG-members??? what was it, when he talked about the "pocket universe"???

... Comment

Interim Dynabook

In my understanding the dynabook is the original and overall metaphor AK coined for really personal computing insofar it is like a book as a container of story or any kind of cultural material and it is dynamic and not fixed the way a book is. In many papers the Alto is called an "interim dynabook". The notetaker is just another step in the feasabiltiy of carryable hardware and the software needed therefore.
With the dynabook the vision was in the concept. In 1970 they knew that it was a far way to go to have a carryable computer but the also knew that it could be done. The notetaker as far as I know is more of a feasability study in tablet computing.
For me todays products are strangely disconnected from those concepts. The hardware is there, alright, but is the concept?
Weblogging from mostly fixed locations is a lot nearer to the dynabook than the nicest notebook computer, I feel, so we still got lots of interim dynabooks.

... Link


... Comment
Further reading

On the thread of "what became of".
Review bei Bob Johnston. But: as I said to me dynabook is more of a concept and less of a product plan. Americans have less problems with these 2 aspect than me.

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... Comment
actually

i am not so interested what became the first product, i am interested in the idea, that let to all these in between steps. talking about history, you can speak about ideas. talking about reality, products that made it into the market, a lot of different parameters are involved: (don't have a password for stanford, but thanks to google, even i can read the paper and learn that not everything was at rosy and cosy at that time as history tells:

jerry elkind, csl, was one important figure in the story. ("no hardware project like Kay's could be undertaken without his say-so")

"Let others have stars in their eyes-Elkind was not the type to be beguided by Kay's romantic glow." "Among the PARC brass, Kay lacked credibility. All the way up to George Pake he was regarded tolerantly as a sort of precocious child, engaging enough in his place but profoundly in need of adult supervision." "'We know everything, he told his audience.`We know exactly how big the pixels are, we know how many pixels we can get by with, we know how much computing power we need. The uses for a personal
gadget as an editor, reader, take-home context, and intelligent terminal are fairly obvious. Now let's build thirty of these things so we can get on with it."

then jerry elkind took the floor:

He asked too many questions and, more's the pity, they were often good ones. As Jim Mitchell once remarked, "Jerry Elkind knows enough to be dangerous." ...
At this moment he pronounced the words that most CSL engineers had learned to dread as his kiss of death: "Let me play devil's advocate," he said."

to keep the story short: everything was too speculative and there was already POLOS on his way, "the so called PARC On-line Office System, which was Bill English's attempt to reproduce the Engelbart system on a large network of commercial minicomputers known as nova 800s"

kay didn't get through with his ideas, but elkind was wrong to imagen that english and kay were rivals: "English informed Kay, in essence, that his barefooted treks through Ideaspace would no longer do. He had to learn to develop written research plans, compile budgets, and keep notes-in short, to look and act like a serious researcher." (that was 1972. LRG had already turned the outline for smalltalk into real code and kay was confident that he can bring the people on his side)

"Kay took the advice to heart. Over the next few months he drafted a detailed plan for a music, drawing, and animation system to teach kids creative programming on Novas. He did not abandon his cherished of smaller steps and commit himself to a program of several years."

... Link

How

did you read that text properly?

I still think that "dynabook" was
a) the name for a set of ideas that go back to V.Bush, J. Licklider and others and meaning we get a new kind of better book based on computing technology and
b)the name for being convinced that those ideas could only be realised in a personal computing device (size and portability as a book) and not in any kind of distributed or single medium or large time sharing system.
Formfactors like PDA, Notebook or anything the like should be completely secondary. And yet are not maybe. Still the software question is more important.

... link

never give up :))

i realized that the whole text is there, you just have to highlight it.

well, to a) de acuerdo, but somehow i got the feeling, that some principles were also mentioned in the paper of engelbart you linked last time. a conceptual framework.
and it seems i like to follow the "conceptual" path more. a lot to read ...

claro, those people have influenced each other, they know/knew each other, worked together. and now we are sitting here, going over their papers trying to get what??? even getting as crazy to read unreadable papers, without even thinking hey, it's enough, stop!! you know, somehow that sucks.

... link

crawled in the mud

but didn't give up. marked, copied, removed cr/lfs, put it in wordpad and here we go with 3 files. the strange structure comes from google's automatic pdfToHtml conversion. Html source of those pages look awful. I'll clean them a bit more and link them as text on antville. Stolen properties. Ethical problems. No siree!

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