Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Ordered Your "Memex" Yet?

From the July, 1945 edition of The Atlantic, a journal of opinion on politics, science and business which is still in publication:
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.

The Editor of The Atlantic introduces the article's author as "Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, Dr. Vannevar Bush has coordinated the activities of some six thousand leading American scientists in the application of science to warfare. In this significant article he... urges that men of science should ...turn to the massive task of making more accessible our bewildering store of knowledge... Now, says Dr. Bush, instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages."

Just imagine if you could link Memexes together by telegraphic or even wireless means...

HT Mike Westfall, in the Comments section of Gene Veith's latest post, The Internet as Collectivist Monster (click post title).

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