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Ted Nelson
a long time ago
"Theodor Holm Nelson, born 1937, obtained his BA in philosophy from Swarthmore College. In 1960, he was a masters student in sociology at Harvard. Shortly after enroling in a computer course for the humanities, he was struck by a vision of what could be. For his term project, he attempted to devise a text-handling system which would allow writers to revise, compare, and undo their work easily. Considering that he was writing in Assembler language on a mainframe, in the days before "word processing" had been invented, it was not surprising that his attempt fell short of completion. Five years later, he gave his first paper at the annual conference of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). It was around this time that he coined the term Hypertext. Since that date, Nelson has been pursuing his dream, a software framework he named Xanadu, after Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" (he came up with the name while working for a publisher). This he describes at length in Literary Machines, calling it a "magic place of literary memory. In Dream Machines, Nelson provides three categories of hypertext (45). The first, basic or chunk hypertext, supports what we have been calling reference and note links. The second, stretchtext, is a full implementation of expansion links. The third, collateral, stems from his work in 1971 with the Parallel Textface, which provides a view of two documents on one screen, with full support for versioning. Nelson also distinguishes between "fresh" or original hyperbooks on one topic, "anthological" hyperbooks linking different works, and "grand" systems: [These consist] of "everything" written about the subject, or vaguely relevant to it, tied together by editors (and NOT by "programmers," dammit), in which you may read in all the directions you wish to pursue. There can be alternate pathways for people who think different ways."

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