Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Who Is This "Licklider" Guy?

Who are they talking about? Why haven't I ever heard of him?

I was at SRI, a research institute by the Stanford campus. Around me was a lively group of some of the best minds in Computer Science, some of them have had their PhDs in the field for 40 years. I had the honor of being the least credentialed person in the room. As I listened to some of the discussions, I noticed that they seemed to keep bringing up the name "Licklider." Sometimes they'd just call him "Lick." Other times they'd mention projects along with his name that I hadn't heard about before like "Project MAC." Since the guys talked so much about him, I knew I had to find out more about who this "Lick" guy was. One of them suggested that I read the book "The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal" by M. Mitchell Waldrop.

My local library had the book. I was a bit worried when I saw that it hadn't been checked out for three years. "Hmm... maybe it's not that good?" I thought.

I was pleasantly surprised.

At about 500 pages, it's not a small book. Fortunately, I was able to finish it just before the library forced me to return it since I hit the maximum amount of renewals on it.

The book put me on a journey that filled in a lot of details about computing history that I didn't even know I was clueless about while weaving a story about a man from Missouri. Although his full name was Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, just about everyone called him "Lick," a name he acquired in his fraternity days.

Lick's story is bigger than just one guy. It's a story that goes back to the dawn of computing right up to the personal computer. While reading the book, I had a lot of "Aha!" moments that helped fill me into the colorful history of computing. For example, I had heard a lot about DEC's PDP system, but it was interesting to know that they were specifically called "Programmed Data Processors" instead of "computers" because congress was pressured not to spend any more money on computers at the time. By itself, facts like these seem to be obscure trivia, but when you read about the politics of funding at the time, you can really understand that DEC had few alternatives.

I can't recall ever hearing Licklider's name before that meeting at SRI, but that's probably because I didn't try too hard. As a kid interested in computers growing up in the 1990's, I really focused my attention on learning about one person - Bill Gates. I read several books about him and had a reasonably good idea of his background and the history of Traf-O-Data, Microsoft and some of its products like BASIC, DOS, OS/2, Windows, and NT. Perhaps in the back of my mind I thought that learning about him would me emulate his success and make me millionsbillions. Too bad that didn't work out.

In addition to the books, my other major source of information was when I watched Bob Cringely's Triumph of the Nerds on PBS in the summer before I started high school. In hindsight, after reading this book I really wish I would have watched the 1998 follow-on to the series called "Nerds 2.01: A Brief History of the Internet." I would have at least heard about Licklider and the computing days before Microsoft and Apple and not been so clueless back at that room in SRI.

What a story it is! It's not really just about Lick; it's about how he helped build a community that fostered the explosive computing growth in the 1960's right through the 70's and 80's.

Since I like to ask others what stuck out in books that they've read, I thought I'd share some things I found interesting:

22 Days of Beeps Can Change a Nation

Chapter 6 opens on a rocket launch pad in the early morning of October 1957 at a top secret Soviet Union location. When the rocket took off and deployed its payload, the world came to know Sputnik by its incessant beep beep beep transmissions.

Waldrop quotes this account:

"[Sputnik's] two transmitters would fail twenty-three days after launch - but their arrogant beeping would continue to sound in the American memory for years to come... Gone forever in this country was the myth of American superiority in all things technical and scientific." (p. 197)

Although the U.S. had rockets under development that were more sophisticated than the Soviet ones, it was a huge blow to American pride and there was a large public outcry. Everyone made the connection: if the Soviets could launch a satellite into space, they could probably launch a missile into any major U.S. city.

One famous result of this perceived threat was President Eisenhower's endorsement of "a plan to consolidate all the Pentagon's space research under a new civilian agency reporting directly to the secretary of defense. It would be called the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA."

Well it didn't quite work out exactly as planned.

Before ARPA opened for business, it had already been split up. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) would handle all the non-military space projects and the services would get a large amount their funding back to handle most of their development projects. This left ARPA with "the kind of beyond-the-cutting-edge stuff that the services were willing to do without." (p. 198)

ARPA wasn't initially interested in computers. To them, they were really only helpful for things like accounting and payroll. This changed when ARPA was tasked to research new command and control ideas that would require a lot of data processing. This seemed like an ideal fit for computers. Licklider was asked to come over to ARPA and lead the new project.

He didn't want to take the job at first. He was already doing interesting things with computers and was so busy working on fleshing out his ideas of computer assisted "libraries of the future" to even think about burying himself in "the bureaucratic limbo of Washington." (p. 201)

Once he warmed up to the idea of going to ARPA, he began thinking that the command and control concept was ultimately a man-machine symbiosis, something he had been thinking about for years.

In March of 1960, he published his famous "Man-Computer Symbiosis" which began:

"The fig tree is pollinated only by the insect Blastophaga grossorun. The larva of the insect lives in the ovary of the fig tree, and there it gets its food. The tree and the insect are thus heavily interdependent: the tree cannot reproduce without the insect; the insect cannot eat without the tree; together, they constitute not only a viable but a productive and thriving partnership. This cooperative 'living together in intimate association, or even close union, of two dissimilar organisms' is called symbiosis.

'Man-computer symbiosis' is a subclass of man-machine systems. There are many man-machine systems. At present, however, there are no man-computer symbioses. The purposes of this paper are to present the concept and, hopefully, to foster the development of man-computer symbiosis by analyzing some problems of interaction between men and computing machines, calling attention to applicable principles of man-machine engineering, and pointing out a few questions to which research answers are needed. The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today."

This might not seem radical in 2008, but it was revolutionary back in the 1960's when most people could only think of computers as batch processing machines. Lick saw computers in a symbiosis where humans could do the thinking and the machines would do the "algorithmic chores they were so good at" (p.148). In order to find out how much of a benefit they'd be, he did an experiment on himself and found to his horror that he spent 85% of his time just "getting into a position to think, to make a decision, to learn something I needed to know." The rest of the time was just clerical or mechanical. Computers would be a perfect fit to handle all the dreary stuff that got in the way of real thinking.

Lick knew that he could start making the man-computer symbiosis concept real and get the government to pay for it through his association with ARPA. Lick's view was "that the problems of command and control were essentially problems of man-computer interaction. I thought it was just ridiculous having command-and-control systems based on batch processing. Who can direct a battle when he's got to write a program in the middle of a battle?" (p. 202)

On the next page we see:

"Improbably, miraculously, through some once-in-a-lifetime alignment of all the right planets, ARPA was offering him a chance to turn his vision into a reality. He could reinvent the whole field of computing. He could transform those giant calculating machines into full-fledged partners in a human creativity. He could create 'information utilities' that spanned the continent. He could democratize information by opening up vast libraries of material to instant access by anyone. And he could do it all with the Pentagon's money." (p. 203)

And boy did he ever:

"[The professional bureaucrats] had a history of giving grants to individual people in twenty-thousand-dollar chunks. But Lick was talking about millions of dollars and whole teams of people. It was as though these folks had encountered this alien creature: friendly, but strange." (p. 206)

In addition to funding research organizations like SDC, RAND, and SRI, Lick is remembered for helping fund the new computer science departments at Berkeley, Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, and perhaps most famously, MIT. Lick's funding at MIT went towards a system that would put together several foundational ideas needed for his man-computer symbiosis. The goal was "Machine-Aided-Cognition," but since computer time was hard to come by and they had to invent a lot of the concepts for time-sharing to allow multiple people to access a computer at once, the project also went by the name "Multiple Access Computer." Regardless of which one you chose, the acronym was the same.

"So that's the Project MAC the folks in the room were talking about," I thought as I read about it.

Project MAC would lay a lot of the foundations for modern operating systems. Examples include technologies like multitasking and file systems to policies such as regular backups to protect themselves from their mistakes. They had to introduce passwords to stop some people from stealing computer time as well as ideas from unpublished academic papers. Unix and the C language it was written in was an offshoot of this project as an attempt to write a simpler version than what the Project MAC team was trying to accomplish.

And yet, Project MAC was just one of the many projects that Lick was funding and tracking. To the outside observer, all of the projects seemed like an ad hoc mess rather than a carefully crafted plan. Lick knew that his man-computer symbiosis dream would need to be maintained by more than just him. Waldrop writes:

"Lick realized, if this vision was ever going to outlast his tenure at ARPA, he would somehow have to forge all these groups into a self-reinforcing, self-sustaining community." (p. 225)

One such example of how he did this was his famous 1963 memo which began: "[to the] Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network." In his mind, Lick was referring to a human network. He continued: "It is evident that we have among us a collection of individual (personal and/or organizational) aspirations, efforts, activities, and projects." The challenge now was to exploit "the possibilities for mutual advantage". He went on to describe a connected system that would keep all the research projects together, a network focused on human thoughts but connected by wires. In essence, the early signs of the Internet.

But it took some time to materialize and didn't happen during Lick's ARPA tenure.

He did make progress. Due to the computing focus that Lick had caused, his ARPA division was given the title "Information Processing Techniques Office" (IPTO). After his two year tenure at ARPA, Lick handed the reins over to a young Ivan Sutherland (creator of Sketchpad, which launched the field computer graphics and computer aided design). When Sutherland finished his tenure, Bob Taylor would take over and proceed to actually make Lick's "Intergalactic Network" of people a real physical thing by linking ARPA people together into ARPANET, the direct predecessor of the Internet.

The first message went across it at 10:30 PM on October 29, 1969.

Two interesting things from the book stand out right around this period of time. The first was that the height of the Vietnam War was taking a huge toll on the nation, both in terms of people and dollars. In a reported attempt to limit spending on the war, Montana senator Mike Mansfield proposed an amendment that would prevent the Defense Department from "[carrying] out any research project or study unless such project or study has a direct and apparent relationship to a specific military function."

The practical effect of the "Mansfield Amendment" was that it diverted a large percentage of people's time into writing how their project had a "direct and apparent" relevancy. It's also one of the largest reasons why ARPA is now known as DARPA:

"In retrospect, moreover, [the Mansfield Amendment] came to be seen as the symbolic watershed for ARPA, the point at which it started its downhill slide from being a cutting-edge agency that was blessedly free to take risks to being an ordinary agency that was cautious and risk-averse." (p. 395)

The second big thing was that in May of 1969, Xerox was making a lot of money selling copiers. But their management knew they had to be more than a one product company. In an attempt to branch out and "go digital," they purchased Scientific Data Systems (SDS). However, they had a problem: the company was largely computer illiterate. They needed to go out and recruit the best computer people the world had. One of their first hires was none other than former ARPA IPTO director Bob Taylor. Taylor would go on to attract many from Lick's "Intergalactic Network" ARPA community who had been distressed by the Mansfield Amendment and its research cutting implications.

The resulting Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) was the place to be in the 1970's. It fostered freedom to explore ideas just like the early ARPA days since its backers were willing to invest in long-term innovation. Its anti-corporate culture included meetings filled with beanbag chairs which prevented people from leaping out of their chair to argue with someone. This 'helped' you hear them out. PARC would go on to create the foundations of personal computing as we know it with their Alto personal computer which was named after the city they were in. The Alto had new ideas like bitmapped displays, windows, an Ethernet network, WYSIWYG word processing, laser printing, and roots of modern object oriented programming. Unfortunately, Xerox's management didn't quite understand the business value of what their PARC guys were creating. Additionally, the guys inside PARC had a hard time creating a clear path and business model for getting their ideas to market. There was one notable exception. Waldrop writes:

"If [Jack Goldman] hadn't thrown a tantrum [in order to get the business guys to listen], they might just have rejected the laser printer itself - the one PARC-bred product that would eventually earn billions for Xerox and repay its investment in PARC many times over." (p. 392)

Steve Jobs, along with some other engineers, would visit PARC in December of 1979 for a demonstration of the Alto system. Jobs was so enamored by the graphical interface that he saw that he didn't even explore the object oriented programming and networking ideas. During the visit, Jobs reportedly exclaimed "Why hasn't this company brought this to market?" (p. 443) He didn't wait around for Xerox. Apple's first graphical computer, "Lisa," 'borrowed' several ideas from the Alto. When the Lisa and IBM PC hit the market in the early 80's, the guys inside PARC realized that Xerox had blown a huge opportunity. Many jumped ship. One example was Charles Simonyi, who took his ideas Bravo word processing ideas north to a relatively new company in Washington named Microsoft. It was a huge difference in culture. Simonyi's commented on the contrast:

"It was like going into the graveyard or retirement home before going into the maternity ward. You could see that Microsoft could do things one hundred times faster, literally, I'm not kidding. Six years from that point, we overtook Xerox in market valuation." (p. 449)

And that brought me full circle back to the pop culture history I was more familiar with. Throughout the years Lick would stay involved in some part with the research community, sometimes getting bogged down with management tasks which he despised. He would teach at MIT through the 80s with students that would only later realize all that he had done. Failing health caused him to pass away at the age of 75 on June 26, 1990: just before the world at large would come to use the "Intergalactic Network."

Lick was known for being quite modest about his contributions, often minimizing his role. When asked about what he did, he said:

"I think that I found a lot of bright people and got them working in this area. I got it moving. [And it was] a fantastic community. I guess that's the word. It was more than just a collection of bright people. It was a thing that organized itself into a community, so that there was some competition and some cooperation, and it resulted in the emergence of a field." (p. 258)

So that's why they kept talking about him. Now I get it.

Lick organized a community that would change the computing world. He realized that it's ultimately the people that matter. I think that our industry puts too much emphasis on technology and tends to marginalize people. I think that one of the first steps to reverse this trend is to understand the contributions of its founders like Lick.

"The Dream Machine" was a good book. I recommend it to anyone who might be curious about what happened in computing before the Microsoft, Apple, and especially Google days. From the early days of Von Neumann and Turing, right up to the 90's, Waldrop's detailed research helped the story come alive. The book appears to be out of print, but it is well worth a visit to your library or getting a used copy.

If you made it this far, I'd really love to hear your comments on a few related questions:

  • Had you heard of Licklider before? If so, where? What sticks out in your mind about Lick?
  • What do you think about Lick's funding and management strategy in the early days of ARPA's IPTO?
  • What do you think of Lick's comparison of the Fig Wasp and Fig Tree to a man-computer relationship? Do you think we've obtained the man-computer symbiosis he was referring to?
  • What about PARC? It could still be considered success since the laser printer paid for Xerox's investment in it. However, as Steve Jobs points out, they could have been the IBM of the 90's but blew their chance. What do you think?
  • What do you think about the Mansfield Amendment of the 1970 fiscal year? It's easy to criticize things in hindsight. If it was 1969 and you didn't know the future, which side would you have honestly taken? How would you have defended your position?
  • If you read this book or similar books, what is most memorable to you about the period from the 1930's through the late 80's that you think most people don't know about?

17 comments:

Mark Miller said...

Hi Jeff. Enjoyed your post. To answer some of your questions:

1) Yes, I heard of Licklider in 2006 while I was watching a video of Alan Kay give a presentation on ideas he had developed about computing, specifically on his Squeak and Croquet projects. If you watch the video you'll see that Sutherland's Sketchpad project was more significant than creating the field of computer graphics and CAD. He invented object-oriented computing as well. Kay worked with Licklider, Sutherland, and Taylor at ARPA, and followed Taylor to PARC, where Kay's Dynabook concept was developed.

I had also gotten inspired to research the idea of human-computer symbiosis after doing some online reading, and came upon Licklider's paper.

3) At first the idea creeped me out with visions of cyborgs, but after doing some reading I realized that it doesn't have to be implemented this way. The GUI w/ mouse developed by Douglas Engelbart (in a very basic fashion), and fleshed out at Xerox PARC is an implementation of this idea.

I think we've made progress towards symbiosis, but also taken some steps back. A big part of it is matching what the computer can do with our cognitive needs. Kay and the people who work with him seem to have a very good bead on what this means. If you watch the video link I refer to above you'll see what I mean. I think the first Apple Macs were a step in the right direction. I think since the 1990s though there's been more flash than progress towards symbiosis in popular computing. The web hasn't helped. It's a great information resource, but for most of its life it's created modes of interaction that are not conducive towards the goal of symbiosis.

4) I agree with Steve Jobs on this. I wrote a couple blog posts of my own a) exploring a phrase that I had heard Alan Kay use, "low-pass filter", in reference to the computing pop culture that's dominated for the past 28 years, and b) commenting on "Triumph of the Nerds". I analyzed what happened at PARC in this context. The executives at PARC were the epitome of the "low-pass filter" concept I was exploring. Even Jobs had a "low-pass filter" experience of sorts with his visit at PARC. He said, "I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me," the GUI, "that I didn't 'see' the other two," that is, object-oriented programming, and networking. The truth is, the demo he saw was of the Smalltalk system, which Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg, Dan Ingalls, and others had worked on for several years. It was not just a GUI. It was also the first system to really flesh out the idea of object-oriented programming. The GUI and OOP were basically the same thing in that system, not separate. Jobs would eventually get it when he founded NeXT, after leaving Apple. So Jobs had limited "vision" as well at the time. He was just more perceptive than the top brass at Xerox. "They were copier-heads," he said, and, "They just grabbed defeat from the greatest victory in the computer industry." Quite right. The reaction of the Xerox execs to this truly revolutionary thing the researchers had created should be a lesson to all creative thinkers. These people had literally created the future, and the execs scoffed at it! They thought it was worthless. Kind of makes me wonder what they expected this team to produce. A word processing machine, perhaps?

5) This is a hard one for me, because I don't have enough historical context to really answer this well. From what I've read, it makes it sound like a tragedy, because the research methods and the people at ARPA were creating amazing innovations, both in technology and thought on technology. Some of the ideas, as you're exploring here, have still not been fleshed out fully.

As I note in my post on "Triumph of the Nerds" you might want to check out another PBS series, which came out in 1992, called "The Machine That Changed The World", if you can find it on video. It looks at the development of the computer from the perspective of the research and development that was done throughout its history. It explores a little of the ideas derived from Licklider's human-computer symbiosis, though it doesn't directly address it. "Triumph" focuses more on the business deals.

Fbloeink said...

Another interesting book on this topic is "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" by Hafner/Lyon, which is where i first heard about Licklider.

Anonymous said...

What are you Asian?
If you liked the book why not just buy a copy??? You are so cheap and low class.

bonsaigiant said...

I usually read through posts really quickly in the morning, but this one was so fun, I took my time with it. Nice job, thank you.

Jeff Moser said...

Mark Miller: Thanks for the very detailed comment!

1. I hadn't heard of that talk/video before you mentioned it. I'll watch it. I assume you've seen other videos by him such as his NSF proposal talk?

Interesting that you mentioned Alan Kay. He was the one in the room that suggested I read this book.

3. You're right on about Engelbart. I didn't mention it, but the book goes into depth about him and especially his early demo where he connected remotely to his machine back at SRI.

I think that if computers are going to really get closer to the symbiosis, they almost need to disappear. Imagine a Dynabook/Squeak machine that is only the size of a sheet of paper and has the same flexibility.

As Kay mentioned in his "The Computer Revolution Hasn't Happened Yet" paper and talk, we're really at the start of the technology. We haven't really gotten to the new level of thinking that several generations of people using the technology get to.

4. Very insightful. I'll also check out your blog. It seems you have similar interests in historical context. Thanks for these links.

5. It's very hard to pick a side without using hindsight. However, I think that the Mansfield Amendment is a good metaphor for stopping many good ideas before they have enough room to grow and have direct "relevancy." I think that Google's 20% time (if anyone actually gets that anymore) is perhaps an acknowledgement by Google's management that insistence on "direct and apparent" can prevent you from getting the best ideas. Unfortunately, it requires really good people and really brave management. However, it has historically paid off.

fbloeink: Waldrop referenced this book. Anything in particular stick out from what you read in it?

anonymous: Ouch. A bit harsh? I wanted to get started on it right away and saw the library had it on the shelf. I think that libraries are a tremendous resource, especially for reading up on history. Had it not been in our library, I would have gotten it from Amazon or Half.com's auctions.

Since this one appears to be out of print, it doesn't seem like the author would benefit from me getting it second hand.

I might get it anyways just to refresh my memory. However, I think that your stance is a bit strong and discounts the intrinsic value of libraries.

Perhaps I'm missing something?

bonsaigiant: Thanks! I was a bit worried that I went long as I cut out a lot of things to make it reasonable in size.

Mark Miller said...

@Moser:

I had not heard of that video, though I have read Kay's NSF proposal. I didn't understand it completely, particularly the implementation part, but maybe his presentation will help.

I have seen a video of a presentation given by Ian Piumarta at Stanford. He is working with Kay on his NSF project. It gets into the foundational implementation of what they're working on. Basically it's a programmable system where the programmer can reprogram the language parser while they're programming. Kay's early work on Smalltalk embodied a similar idea. He had objects parsing the messages they received.

Re #1: The video I referred to in my last comment was a BIG one for me. It was a cathartic experience. I've been a software developer by trade. Once I watched this video I couldn't look at what I do for a living the same way again. Since then I've been taking every chance I can to study this historical context, because I realized that I had a very different context based on my experience in the "pop culture" of computing, as Kay calls it, and that it wasn't serving me well. I feel much more at home with the POV of symbiosis, but I think my computing "habits of the mind" are still kind of in the "pop culture". That's what I'm trying to change. One of the things Kay really emphasized in that video I referred to earlier is that technologists need to read more. We need to have a sense of history. There were some great innovations in thought and technology that were developed in the 1960s which have been ignored. Keeping in mind the need to read about these good ideas helps in changing your POV. I think it helps me see things in the realm of technology more clearly.

Re #3: I forgot to mention, one of my first blog posts, called "Great moments in modern computer history" covered the progression from Engelbart, to Kay at PARC, to the computers that adopted GUIs in the 1980s. I was inspired to do it because I was finding all these videos for these great moments. I put them, or links to them, in chronological order so you can get a feel for the progression of where these ideas went. It's formatted roughly. I put in significant edits a couple times, because I kept finding out more information. It's been one of my most popular posts.

bahadir said...

Hi Jeff ,

The article was quite EASY to read , not to long and full of excitement about the computer world.

I didn't heard about "Lick" before your article.

In my opinion , what Lick did at those times kinda Agility(agile philosophy) in today's world. Collaboration and competition made the difference in his "network".

The success is HCI (Human Computer Interaction)

Jeff Moser said...

bahadir: Thanks for the comment. Glad that it was of interest.

I'm not sure if I follow your association with agile. Maybe you can elaborate some more?

I think agile methods focus on putting people as more important (especially with fast interations and stories).

However, it seems that at least with Lick, it was more about finding the best people and setting them loose to focus on a long-term vision.

I suppose you could contend this is what agile would like to do as well, but with its focus on short term so much, I'm not sure if you could get the same long-term benefits Lick was looking to achieve.

Anonymous said...

I learned about JCR Licklider and his intergalactic network from the book Nerds 2.0.1 by Stephen Segaller(not the PBS miniseries of the same name). It not only covers ARPA/DARPA, but goes on to show the genesis of such companies and technologies as ethernet, Cisco systems, and Qualcomm from those early ARPA-net pioneers.

Patrick said...

I too look forward to human-machine symbiosis. I see opportunities for it in my workplace.

But the interface is the critical point.

It is difficult to train humans to efficiently use a cruddy machine user interface. At the same time, it is difficult to implement a completely intuitive user interface to a machine application.

There has been some progress. Google search and I work together very well.

But majority of software, particularly the enterprise business systems of this world... well, the bug couldn't live in the fig tree is the fig tree kept randomly ejecting him and screaming "SESSION TIMEOUT".

Jeff Moser said...

anonymous: After this post I checked out "Nerds 2.0.1" from the library and watched that. The names and faces made a lot more sense after reading the book. It's interesting that they highlighted Excite. It's probably because Cringely was there at the founding.

I also skimmed the book's index. You're right, it does seem to cover similar topics. However, the book has a more commercial focus rather than the ARPA/research side. They're both interesting.

patrick:

Interesting comparison :). You're right, interfaces have a long way to go before the computer "disappears" and the focus is on the task rather than the means to achieve it. The interface gets in the way too much. Google's search looks easy because of the deep work by greats like Manber and Norvig. It's hard to dedicate that kind of talent to each project.

Wulfcry said...

I heard the name by coincidence but never put much attention to the person and filtered it away. But now reading your post caught my interest.
Better late then never I guess .
A history about computing and the people changing that makes sense in the recent developments build on the idea's from those who made them.

Jeff Moser said...

Wulfcry: Hope this helped give an overview of Lick. Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Characterizing Apple's "borrowing" from Xerox is an apt way of putting it. Apple's engineers were introduced to the GUI technology that made its way into the Macintosh in exchange for $1 million of stock, pre-IPO. Hence the technology doesn't appear to have explicitly been sold in the deal (though I suppose it could have been in the fine print).

Jeff Moser said...

Anonymous: Interesting, I hadn't specifically heard of the pre-IPO stock deal. It's on Wikipedia, but do you have a more authoritative reference of this?

Manuel Rosa Martins said...

great blog, this Galatic Network of yours.

Steven A. Lowe said...

A truly excellent book. There was a very good PBS special many years ago "The Machine That Changed the World" that referenced the book, that is how I came to hear about it.

It is interesting to read about the history that brought us here, and how far we still have to go - which makes where we are that much more exciting!