Notes for Steven Levy Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything

Key concepts: windows.


Related theorists: Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Ivan Sutherland.

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(4) I saw it that day. I also saw many things I didn't know a computer could do. By the end of the demonstration, I began to understand that these were things a computer
should do. There was a better way.


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Use of windows reshapes human relationship to information.

Engelbart felt it was logical windows based systems would take over the computing world, despite failure of Augment.

(39) Windows are really quite profound. Using them implicitly reshapes our relationship to information itself.
(46) By the time I wound up in
Engelbart's pathetic cubicle in 1983, his creation, now dubbed “Augment,” was one of several office-automation systems Tymshare offered. . . . He talked as if his system, not the evolutions of it like the Lisa and the upcoming Macintosh, was going to take over the world. It was logical to him that is should. Here, he seemed to say, just watch.


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(51) The next leap toward Macintosh would originate only a few miles from Engelbart's lab—a research and development arm of the Xerox Corporation called the Palo Alto Research Center, but known to computerheads everywhere as PARC.
(54) [Ivan]
Sutherland had achieved canonical status in the field by devising a computer program called Sketchpad. He had concocted this as his MIT doctoral thesis in the early sixties, working on the TX-2, one of the first computers with a visual display, albeit an extremely crude one.

Sketchpad delivered pictures of mental terrain of mathematics that entranced Plato.

(55) Sketchpad did not feel like a computer program, at least none that had ever been thought of as such. It felt like . . . pictures. Like geometry. Like cyberspace. Suddenly, we could see the pictures of purely mental terrain that entranced Plato when he talked about mathematics.



Levy, Steven. Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything. New York: Penguin Books, 2000. Print.