As We May Think by Vannevar Bush

Below are a selection of quotes from the article.

He urges that men of science should then turn to the massive task of making more accessible our bewildering store of knowledge.

Now, says Dr. Bush, instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages.

Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose.

The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.

A record if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted.

The advanced arithmetical machines of the future will be electrical in nature, and they will perform at 100 times present speeds, or more.

Moreover, they will be far more versatile than present commercial machines, so that they may readily be adapted for a wide variety of operations.

The human mind ... operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain.

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

Any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf.

...associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.

The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined.

...when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn...

It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together from widely separated sources and bound together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.

For the full article, see: The majority of the hypertext discussion is in sections 6 and 7.

-- Andy Pryke - 15 Jul 2001

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Topic revision: 15 Jul 2001, andyp
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