The Dream Machine Notes
  • J.C.R. Licklider (“Lick”) studied physics, mathematics, and psychology at WUSTL and finshed a PhD in acoustics at the University of Rochester. Then went on to work at the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard
  • Lick became interested in HCI and ultimately worked on SAGE (missile defense system with a human terminal interface, now part of Lincoln Lab at MIT) and other military projects
  • Wrote the Man-Computer Symbiosis, a manifesto of sorts, describing the future of how machines and people would interact (hint: simple). Advocated an AI “helper” approach, where computers would be man’s best companion for doing good work. This marked a transition from the computer being a fast calculator, to be an even more useful device.
  • Early computer theory started with Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine, programmed by Ada Lovelace. Lovelace’s father, Lord Byron was among the first to think about the architecture of a computer.
  • Claude Shannon devised a way to map physical circuits to bits and logic. i.e. A wire splits off into a parallel circuit. This represents an “OR” gate (power can flow one way or the other)
  • Alan Turing devised a computer on paper, one of his larger findings that any computer can compute anything, its just a matter of time and resources.
  • Lick was later named director of ARPA, a research facility focused on long-term 10x improvements for the military. He eventually funded groups working on communications (ARPAnet), Human-Computer Interaction (Doug Engelbart and SRI → Computer Mouse and CRT display), Project MAC (AI and OS research, later became CSAIL at MIT)
  • Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor, and Larry Roberts devised an intergalatic network while part of IPTO (first ARPAnet, then the internet).
  • Consumer demand for computers really took off once solid state memory replaced magnetic core memory and transistors started becoming cheap (and replacing non-reliable vacuum tubes) - Shockley, Bardeen, Brattain (Transistor), Fairchild (Rock, Noyce, Moore, Grove)
  • The internet’s early problems included proprietary networks by manufacturers (think private blockchains almost), being pigeonholed to research only, and limited use (until email was invented). Given that nodes were only at research facilities (SRI, U. Utah, Stanford, MIT, etc), there was no consumer demand. With the introduction of supercomputers at UIUC, UCSD, Cornell, and Princeton, the need for an internet that went past just research became more apparent. Eventually consumer demand grew, and internet moved from being a government-run utility to a privatized one.

Virtual Community


“Private Blockchain”

This reminds me of the same applications of blockchain today. Many corporations are taking advantage of internal private blockchains, but it is still limiting the overall possibilities

Virtual Community

We’re still haven’t reached this potential yet. Early versions of virtual communities like the Sims and Second Life have just scratched the surface. FB/Twitter might be best examples of these virtual communities.

Supercomputer Network

This is very similar to AWS story. Network was created because certain groups had supercomputers, but more people needed access to it.

Internet as a Utility → Public Necessity

When Corporations are Mindless

The Democratization of Computing