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Internet roots

I was delighted to see this tweet come through my timeline today.

As the description says, this is a hypothetical drawing of Vanvevar Bush’s memex device, one of the first hypertext machines imagined. I wrote about this machine in [my thesis in graduate school](

In 1945, Bush was the director of the government’s Office of Scientific Research and Development. In the wake of World War II, so much research was being done that the centuries-old means of scholarly communication wasn’t keeping up. Something had to be done to modernize it, and Bush proposed a punch card-driven device he called the “memex.”

Here’s how I described it a few years ago:

>The memex was intended to model human memory. A memex user might read a text and then link it to another text
by association. These “trails” were what Bush saw as the “essential feature of the memex” because they allowed the user to return to what he or she was doing, perhaps months later, and recall those same trails with the push of a button.

A lot of people see the memex notion as the predecessor of the hyperlink, which, of course, we all use everyday.

In a week in which [the creator of the computer mouse and modern user interface design passed away](, it’s good to remember your Internet roots.