straight up

"We were much more interested in making things than theorizing, and we had something no one else had: Chuck Thacker's Interim Dynabook (later known as the "Alto")."

The Cookie Monster animation  

previous next

Click to play video About the Interim Dynabook

Interim Dynabook <1973>

In early April of 1973, just a little over three months from the start, the first Interim Dynabook, known as 'Bilbo,' greeted the world and we had the first bit-map picture on the screen within minutes: the Muppets' Cookie Monster that I had sketched on our painting system.

Soon Dan Ingalls had bootstrapped Smalltalk across, and for many months it was the sole software system to run on the Interim Dynabook. The Smalltalk interpreter on the Interim Dynabook was not exactly zippy ("majestic" was one pronouncement), but was easy to change and quite fast enough for many real-time interactive systems to be built on it.

Overlapping windows were the first project tackled after writing the code to read the keyboard and create a string of text. An early version of a bit field block transfer (bitblt) for displaying variable pitch fonts and generally writing on the display. The first window versions were done as real dragable objects that were just a little too slow to be useful.

One of the next things to be implemented on the Interim Dynabook was an object-oriented version of the LOGO turtle [inspired by Seymour Papert]. This could make many turtle "instances" that were used both for drawing and as a kind of value for graphics transformations.

Since we had no idea how to teach object-oriented programming to children (or anyone else), the first experiments Adele did mimicked LOGO turtle graphics and she got what appeared to be very similar results. That is to say, the children could get the turtle to draw pictures on the screen, but there seemed to be little happening beyond surface effects.