Bob Stein, who worked at Encyclopedia Britannica as well as Atari during its glory days, worked with Alan Kay, along with Disney animator Glenn Keane, on a series of illustrations back in 1982 showing off his idea for an “Intelligent Encyclopedia,” one which can tell you about earthquakes, stocks, and history, all within the palm of your hand. Laptops didn’t look like this for nearly a decade, and the ideas behind the encyclopedia eventually showed up on Wikipedia two decades later. But, really, what Atari was working on was essentially an iPad with a keyboard. “The most interesting thing for me today about these images is that although we foresaw that people would be accessing information wirelessly (notice the little antenna on the device in the “tide pool” image),” Stein notes, “we completely missed the most important aspect of the network — that it was going to connect people to other people.” Stein’s ideas aren’t a total loss — the guy did essentially invent the multimedia CD-ROM and co-founded The Criterion Collection — but just think if he actually implemented this idea.
April 15, 2012 // 11:45 // 2 years ago