Wednesday, January 12, 2011

This Is Important

I'm typing this on my newest laptop, an IBM ThinkPad X41, a lightweight model that is pretty solid and a reliable machine. It is the latest of many portable computers that I have owned (and a number I do still).
It is what the personal computer was supposed to have been.
When Alan Kay came up with the idea for the Dynabook in 1969, his idea was always for a computer that was portable, that could be carried easily. It was the genesis.
Kay's ideas, however simple it appears, was never really achieved by modern computers. In the concept's simplicity lay the very root reason it has never been achieved; the software systems proposed were the very foundations of the modern operating system and subsequent applications. Within its simplicity was the future.
But that was never the goal.
The environment, eventually known as SmallTalk, would lead to the GUI. But in its inception, it was simply a way of creating the tools needed to make the Dynabook work.
You see, the idea behind the Dynabook was primarily educational; Alan Kay wanted to make a "personal computer for children of all ages". It was about play, of learning. Entertainment was always a feature of this, but not to the extent that home computing experiences today. It was about expanding one's horizons.
I agree with Alan Kay in that it has not met the original goal. But we're closer than we have ever been.

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