notebook’s roots

Alan Kay's DynabookMobile Magazine has a nice article on The Birth of the Notebook by Christopher Null. The article starts with Alan Kay’s 1968 idea ‘Dynabook’, which saw the light of day only as a mockup made of cardboard (picture from ↵Lees 1980:5), as the necessary technology to make it a real thing just was not yet in existance. The Dynabook was thought for kids [play!] and the field of learning and education—the software was thought to grow with the children. The contents of Alan Kays’s original draft notes at Xerox Parc, which are dated August 1972, are remarkable: “The size should be no larger than a notebook; weight less than 4 lbs; the visual display should be able to present at least 4000 printing quality characters [Did you hear the rumours about Microsoft wanting the next generation of operating systems to sport vector graphics instead of bitmaps for displaying characters?] with contrast ratios approaching that of a book; dynamic graphics of reasonable quality should be possible; there should be removable local file storage of at least one million characters (about 500 ordinary book pages) traded off against several hours of audio (voice/music) files.” (cited from ↵Lees 1980:5-6)

The OsbourneNull’s article goes on covering designs like the ‘Osbourne’ from the 1980s, which looks decidedly strange to our contemporary eyes, but may be inspirational to casemodders searching for the optimal shape of LAN-party machines, and concludes with ‘the 1990s and beyond’, when manufacturers ‘agreed’ on one basic shape for notebooks. Astoundingly enough this shape—to which we all are used to nowadays—comes quite close to Kay’s original design from way back.
hint via entry at infocult

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