NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1959 __ Memex II
Vannevar Bush (1890-1974)
Comment : In 1959, Vannevar Bush proposed the Memex II, which would improve over the original Memex in a number of ways. Microphotography would be replaced by magnetic tape for the storage of data (Bush, 1959, 167). Bush believed this would allow information to be erased or added instantaneously. Another addition was the ability to speak to the machine (Bush, 1959, 170). This would allow for the storage and retrieval of sounds, in addition to documents and images. The two most noteworthy additions in the Memex II were the use of color to distinguish old trails from new trails, and the use of phone lines in order to add documents to one's personal database (Bush, 1959, 172-174). Both of these ideas are evident in the World Wide Web structure that exists today. Bush's ideas were revolutionary for his time, and would be for decades to follow. His theory of a personal workdesk machine that could store massive amounts of information followed in the tradition of many before him, as a response to the overwhelming amounts of information that lay within society. The notion that this vast amount of "miniaturized" information could be selected through a process of personal associations set Bush apart from his predecessors, and would eventually have great influence on future information pioneers. (Matt Kazmierski)Memex II was very similar to the original Memex. Bush still emphasized the importance of association as a means of indexing knowledge, and he still thought of his machine as a device to assist individuals in accessing and manipulating different forms of information. Technical developments suggested, however, that the original dream was much closer to realization and that it could be extended in various ways. Many innovations had impressed Bush, but the most significant were magnetic tape, the transistor, and the digital computer. Magnetic tape was a more suitable storage medium that the dry photography of Memex I. It could be written to, or erased, almost instantaneously and it could hold more information. Magnetic tape also had greater multimedia capability - in addition to recording text or still images, it could hold "scenes, speech, and music" as well as movies and television. Memex I aided its owner by storing and retrieving information by associatio nand by automatically performing repetitive, time-consuming mental tasks. Memex II envisioned an extension of these benefits with large, professionally-maintained associational databases. These databases could be purchased on tape or even delivered remotely via facsimile transmission. Bush's "trails" of associations would now to be more sophisticated (color-coded to reflect their age, for instance) and reinforced by repetition, much as the mind can reinforce its memories. More significant, however, were the ways in which an improved Memex might be combined with a digital computer. The Memex could efficiently organize enormous amounts of information, and it could perform basic logical operations on that information. [...] His machine would learn from experience, effectively incorporate incomplete or even contradictory information, and thus even demonstrate a form of judgment. (T.M. Savage & Karla E. Vogel)
Source : Bush, Vannevar (1959), "Memex II", [Vannevar Bush Papers, MIT Archives], MC78, Box 21. Reprinted in James Nyce and Paul Kahn, “From Memex to Hypertext - Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine”. Academic Press, Inc. 1991. pp. 165-184.
Source : Savage, T. M. & Vogel, Karla E. (2008),"An Introduction to Digital Multimedia", Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, p. 7.
Source : Bush, Vannevar (1967), “Memex Revisited”, In Science is Not Enough, pp. 75-101, New York : William Morrow / Apollo Editions.
Urls : http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mattkaz/history/memex4.html (last visited ) http://courses.kathiegossett.com/pdfs/bush_memexrevisited.pdf (last visited ) http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush (last visited )

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