Xanadu People

The founder:

Theodor Holm Nelson

Early contributors:

  • William Barus
  • Cal Daniels
  • Dave Denniston
  • Dan Prener
  • John V. E. Ridgway
  • Andrew J. Singer

The original Xanadu development team:

  • Ted Nelson
  • Roger Gregory
  • Mark Miller
  • Stuart Greene
  • Roland King
  • Eric Hill
  • Eric Dean Tribble
  • Ravi Pandya

The current Xanadu Operating Company, Inc:

  • Ted Nelson
  • Roger Gregory
  • Kathleen Diohep
  • H. Keith Henson
  • Chris Peterson

The current Project Xanadu (the Ted Nelson T.E.A.M.):

  • Ted Nelson
  • <ted@xanadu.net>

  • Ed Harter
  • <ed@xanadu.net>

  • Andrew Pam
  • <andrew@xanadu.net>

  • Marlene Mallicoat
  • <marlene@xanadu.net>

Xanadu Australia:

  • Andrew Pam
  • <xanni@xanadu.com.au>

  • Katherine Phelps
  • <muse@xanadu.com.au>

Keio University students:

  • Yoshihide CHUBACHI
  • Yuki ISHII
  • Tomoko TANIZAKI

Others who have assisted:

  • Steve André
  • Glen Babecki
  • Tom Barnard
  • Roz Barnett
  • Bunty Barus
  • Carl Barus
  • Peter Barus
  • Bob Bickford
  • Greta Bickford
  • Kayla Block
  • Alan Boyd
  • Jacob Brackman
  • Sandy Brown
  • James Burke
  • Mike Butler
  • Stella Calvert
  • D.J. Cone
  • Stanley Cooke
  • John Copeland
  • Mark Crandall
  • Pat Crepeau
  • Hugh Daniel
  • Elizabeth Davenport
  • Richard deVore
  • Tom Dinnella
  • Steve Ditlea
  • Mark-Jason Dominus
  • Steve Dompier
  • K. Eric Drexler
  • Rich Dutcher
  • Esther Dyson
  • Steve Eberbach
  • Doug Englebart
  • Samuel Latt Epstein
  • Jonathan Fagin
  • Anne Fallon
  • Ian Feldman
  • Robert W. Fiddler
  • Harry Garland
  • Graham Gibbard
  • Jock Gill
  • Edward Tesla Gregory
  • Anna Gruda
  • Eric Gullichsen
  • Paul Gumerman
  • Scott Guthery
  • Robert Haavind
  • Sue Hardy
  • Sean Harmon
  • Charles S. Harris
  • Judith Harris
  • Bevier Hasbrouck
  • Dennis Hayes
  • Dick Heiser
  • Ben Hemming
  • Richard Hill
  • Sheila Hill
  • Danny Hillis
  • Starr Roxanne Hiltz
  • Emil Hirsch
  • Mike Hirsch
  • Peter Hirschberg
  • Jean Parke Holm
  • Theodor Holm
  • Yousuke IGARASHI
  • Catherine Ikam
  • Peter Z. Ingerman
  • Rob Jellinghaus
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Herb Johnson
  • William Jovanovich
  • Mitch Kapor
  • Amy Karash
  • Alan Kay
  • Skip King
  • Art Kleiner
  • Gene Klotz
  • Eliot Klugman
  • Nat Kuhn
  • Ron Lachman
  • Timothy Leary
  • Michael Lecuyer
  • Debra Levin
  • Bob Levine
  • Ginny Levine
  • John R. Levine
  • Margy Levine
  • Faye Levine
  • Ann Lewin
  • Mary Jo Lewis
  • A. Sheldon Liederkranz
  • Joseph I. Lipson
  • Leon Loeb
  • Jeffrey Lord
  • Bob Lovell
  • Sue Lovell
  • John Mauchly
  • Mike McClary
  • Laura McLaughlin
  • Sheila McKenzie
  • Harry Mendell
  • Ann Miller
  • David C. Miller
  • Margaret Minsky
  • Marvin Minsky
  • Calvin Mooers
  • Chip Morningstar
  • Cameron Moseley
  • Jim Moses
  • Erika Muhlenberg
  • Toshifumi MURATA
  • Anne Nadreau
  • Kenji NAEMURA
  • Maria Nekam
  • Erik Nelson
  • John Nelson
  • Peter Nelson
  • Kazuhiko NISHII
  • Janie Noble
  • Rebekah Oberin
  • Hajime OHIWA
  • Kiyoki OOKUBO
  • Tim Oren
  • Jay Osako
  • Rich Pasco
  • Gail Pergamit
  • Jan Peugh
  • Art Pollard
  • Jonathan Vos Post
  • Bob Radford
  • Laura Raettig
  • Eric S. Raymond
  • Naomi Reynolds
  • Suzanne Ropiequet
  • Bill Richard
  • Nobuo SAITO
  • Phil Salin
  • Lauren Sarno
  • Dennis Schmidt
  • Jonathan Schmidt
  • Steve Senzig
  • <senzig@gmail.com>

  • Jonathan Shapiro
  • Tsutomu SHIMOMURA
  • Charlie Smith
  • Dan Smith
  • Nancy Smith
  • Olga Smyth
  • Jean-Pierre Soisson
  • Richard M. Stallman
  • Barbara Staudt
  • Dave Staudt
  • Deborah Stone
  • L. Joseph Stone
  • Johan Strandberg
  • Ull Strandberg
  • Roy Stringer
  • Michael Swaine
  • Geo Swan
  • Paul Terrell
  • Les Tietz
  • Murray Turoff
  • Ken’ichi UNNAI
  • Yoko UJIKE
  • Peter Vengella
  • John Verity
  • Bob Wallace
  • Brian Wanty
  • Lauren Wedeles
  • Mike Westgate
  • Jim Whitehead
  • Gordon Whiting
  • Steve Witham
  • David Woodcock
  • Maggie Woodcock
  • Yukihiko YOSHIDA
  • Phil Zimmerman
  • Leor Zolman

04/24/2014 INTERTWINGLED: Ted Nelson, “What Box?”

I feel much better understood than I knew.

Eric and mother Deborah Stone.

School was a prison and imposition.  Religion is human creativity.

I became a project tornado (4 min)

All projects are alike, revising as you go.

The Rock Musical has been released as a CD.

2 Luminous Miscalculations

  1. Thought I would get a Hollywood contract
  2. Thought I would stay in Grad School, not appreciating the brutal character of Grad School

Not in early histories because my vision didn’t fit with ..

Had a vision by end of Grad School

Had thousands of cards, some of which are scanned by Stanford (14 min)

3. Redefine literature with hypertext: visible parallel connections (1961)

4. General Creative started

5. Search for leverage:


7. By 30 will be rich enough to have hypertext transferred – all digital life

8. Moviemaking

9. Start what is pixar

Creative control is important, so must have low budget, getting traction without backers

Wanted to show the length of the document in the title (19 min)

If only I said “Parallel pages visibly connected”

I thought people got it and nobody did

Build a document out of pointers to an ever growing document

Bill Duval saw that it was more efficient (23 min)

Apple and Microsoft did not understand the PUI and cut corners.

I am a minimalist

I have 4 designs:

xanadu – correct and true design of literature

zigzag – hyperthoginal display of data

xanadu space is based on zigzag

zogol: allows a graphics engine, pivoting in multiple dimensions

merge concepts into one

UTMOS: ubstreerous ted’s multifarious operating system

What about intertwingularity – Hereclytus: (40 min)

I was dealt one of the best hands in history. (41 min)

I believe it would have been different if I had gotten backing.

That I did not learn computer programming is my great shame.

System humanist

50 years ago today the word “hypertext” was introduced

So for me it was an important rollout, a rollout of my ideas. And I took it very seriously. And because of my partially theatrical background, I was very conscious of giving a good show.

.. I saw it as my major career rollout, daring and intense. I wasn’t so much scared as excited and keyed up. I was going to tell the world, from a literary and philosophical point of view, where interactive documents would go. I was about to tell a technical group that their whole world would be redefined.

.. What kind of reaction did you get from others?

 No one, absolutely no one that I met, could imagine interactive computer screens. Whereas I could see them with my eyes closed, practically touch them and make them respond. It was very sensual.
.. My great-grandfather, for example, who was a very smart man, a science teacher—he couldn’t understand what I was talking about. No one could imagine what an interactive screen would be. No one I talked to could imagine what an interactive screen would be, whereas I saw and felt them sensually in my mind and at my fingertips. Yet to me this was an extension of literature as we had always known it.
.. My great-grandfather, for example, who was a very smart man, a science teacher—he couldn’t understand what I was talking about. No one could imagine what an interactive screen would be. No one I talked to could imagine what an interactive screen would be, whereas I saw and felt them sensually in my mind and at my fingertips. Yet to me this was an extension of literature as we had always known it.
.. I never got leverage. Neither did a lot of other people; Jobs grabbed a brass ring and knew what to do with it.
.. Unfortunately I overemphasized the jump link, jumping from page to page, which is all the Web does. (Along with the regrettable emphasis on fonts and layout, foisted on the public by Simonyi and Warnock.) [Charles Simonyi, who oversaw Microsoft’s development of Word, and John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe Systems.]
.. And software—interactive software—is events on a screen that affect the heart and mind of the user, and interact,and have consequences. So understanding the theatrics (some say rhetoric, some say cascading) of interaction is the real issue, not just making the wheels go around.
.. I came to see that the issues I was facing for electronic documents were not algorithms but data structure.
.. I submitted five papers to conferences that would meet in 1965; all were accepted! But the biggie was to the ACM National Conference.
.. I’d been reading a lot of journal articles, so I knew how ACM people thought: they were interested in files and operating systems and the like.
.. I spent a great deal of time and work on it. And, as I recall, my great-grandfather died while I was working on it, and that was a great sorrow to me, but I had to keep on it.

.. And while I respected them very much, I also thought that I was opening a new chapter into a new part of the world.

.. I was by no means modest. Although I wasn’t telling anybody about it, I thought hypertext would lead to a millennial system of changes, and so it has, but much less influenced by my own work—my designs and ideas—than I’d hoped.

.. The written paper is in academic style. It bears almost no relation to the oral presentation I gave, which was intended to be rousing. I was used to off-the-cuff public speaking, but I scripted this one tightly.

.. I know I have a tape recording of the talk, and I know I have the original artwork and slides, so if anyone wanted to put it all together and restore it to an audiovisual presentation, it could be done.

.. Did you get in touch with Doug Engelbart?

Yes. The next year, 1966, I flew out to see him with William Jovanovich, head of Harcourt, Brace Publishers, where I worked at the time. He showed us the mouse, and I was instantly converted.
.. You could say it was the high-water mark of my career, just as Engelbart’s 1968 demo was the high-water mark of his.
.. I hardly understood academic politics. Underneath the handshakes and overt appreciation, everyone is backstabbing for the same money.

.. I got a call from the Central Intelligence Agency—at least the guy said he was from the Central Intelligence Agency—and he intimated that they might back me, and I said, “sure.” That conversation went on for several years, but no backing appeared. I actually did go to McLean to meet there once, so it had been an authentic call.

.. The surprise at the meeting was that I was attacked by several Artificial Intelligence guys in the room. It was years before I understood that there was a dog-and-cat relation between AI and hypertext—AI guys thought we were stealing their rightful territory. (I was actually followed at one conference by a famous AI guy who began, “Hypertext is evil.”)

.. Not only did the AI guys hate hypertext, but it turns out that everybody has a different notion of what hypertext should be. For example, HyperCard on the early Macintosh. I couldn’t understand it then; I still don’t understand it now. A very strange system. But that just shows the kaleidoscopic variety of thoughts that these concepts engender.

.. My motto is, you can’t think new thoughts in old words.

.. In what sense did you think “hypertext” was hyper?

 “Hyper” in the sense of extended and generalized, as in “hypercube” and “hyperspace.” My father-in-law was a psychologist, and he was disturbed at the word because he thought “hyper” meant pathological and agitated.

.. I didn’t choose the name “Xanadu,” I don’t think, until ’66 or ’67, when I was at Harcourt, Brace Publishers.

.. The fundamental notions haven’t changed—parallel pages with visible connection.

.. whereas I consider it essential to see pages side by side, as in the Talmud, as in medieval manuscripts, as in any number of documents over the centuries. This is an essential part of the electronic document which we don’t have yet.

.. My team—I don’t take any credit for it, but the guys I was leading—came up with a brilliant system of addressing, based on what is now called tumblers.

.. in the last of those two years, Tim Berners-Lee created the Web. So we might well have been the hypertext system of the world if we had stuck with the original 1979 design.