Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Thomas the Tank Engine

A forgotten Belgian genius dreamed up the internet over 100 years ago

3 posts in this topic

d4a672ade.png

 

When Vannevar Bush?s ?As We May Think? first appeared in The Atlantic?s pages in July 1945, it set off an intellectual chain reaction that resulted, more than four decades later, in the creation of the World Wide Web.
 
In that landmark essay, Bush described a hypothetical machine called the Memex: a hypertext-like device capable of allowing its users to comb through a large set of documents stored on microfilm, connected via a network of ?links? and ?associative trails? that anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today?s Web.
 
Historians of technology often cite Bush?s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush?s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web.
 

In the years leading up to World War II, a number of European thinkers were exploring markedly similar ideas about information storage and retrieval, and even imagining the possibility of a global network?a feature notably absent from the Memex. Yet their contributions have remained largely overlooked in the conventional, Anglo-American history of computing.
 
Chief among them was Paul Otlet, a Belgian bibliographer and entrepreneur who, in 1934, laid out a plan for a global network of ?electric telescopes? that would allow anyone in the world to access to a vast library of books, articles, photographs, audio recordings, and films.
 
Like Bush, Otlet explored the possibilities of storing data on microfilm and making it searchable, with a web of documents connected via a sophisticated linking system. Otlet also wrote about wireless networks, speech recognition, and social network-like features that would allow individuals to ?participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.? He even described a mechanism for transmitting taste and smell.
 
That vision evolved over the course of nearly half a century of experimentation. In 1895, Otlet and his partner Henri La Fontaine?a Belgian senator and future Nobel Peace Prize Winner?launched a project called the Universal Bibliography, or R?pertoire Bibliographique Universel, an ambitious plan to catalog of all the world?s published information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/05/in-search-of-the-proto-memex/371385/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, it was Aliens. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or Al Gore. Or manbearpig....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.