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The Father Of Mobile Computing Is Not Impressed


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Alan Kay holding Dynabook prototype

Alan Kay with a Dynabook prototype.

Credit: Wikimedia

Alan Kay is one of the forefathers of personal computing; he's what you can safely call a living legend. He directed a research team at the legendary Xerox PARC. It took imagination like his to drive the computer into the public's hands.

The finest distillation of that imagination was the Dynabook — a handheld computer that was powerful, dynamic, and easy enough to operate that children could use it, not only to learn, but to create media and write their own applications. 

The Dynabook, which looks like an iPad with a hard keyboard, was one of the first mobile computer concepts ever put forward, and perhaps the most influential. The Dynabook has accrued the dubious distinction of being the most famous computer that never got built.

In a world where 2 billion people own smartphones, Kay believes nothing has yet been produced that fulfills the original specs for the Dynabook, including the iPhone and the iPad. In fact, mobile computers, he says, have turned out to be mind-numbing consumption devices — sophisticated televisions — rather than the wheels for the mind that Steve Jobs envisioned.

From Fast Company
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