But for those three days in the Illinois summer, they were young, wild, and crazy. And by all accounts the wildest of the bunch was Utah’s Alan Kay, a guy who was so far out in the future that not even this crowd could take him seriously-yet so funny, so glib, and so irrepressible that they listened anyway. When it was his turn to give a presentation, Kay told them about his idea for a “Dynabook,” a little computer that you could carry around in one hand like a notebook. One face would be a screen that would display formatted text and graphics and that you could draw or write on as if it were a pad of paper. The Dynabook would communicate with other computers via radio and infrared. It would be so simple to program that even a kid could do it. And it would have lots and lots of storage inside—maybe even a hard disk!
M. Mitchell Waldrop in The Dream Machine (best book on Personal Computer history ever).
It is July 1968 and smartphones are science-fiction’s science-fiction.
It is now May 2023 and people are addicted to their “Dynabooks” to the point of using them while walking, driving, sharing a moment with others. Where I live people walk around completely disconnected from their environments, eyes on screen, noise-cancelling earphones in ears, bumping into garbage cans and human beings. I don’t feel great about that.
Software developers are using all the casino and slot machine psychological tricks to get people glued to their phones. It works beautifully. Folks are intensely monitoring meaningless numbers instead of just being and progressing.
We still haven’t hit the bottom. Generations raised on Dynabooks, violet LED bedroom lights (the ones that completely suppress melatonin production, which protects you from cancer) and long COVID will not have a good time in their 30s, 40s and beyond.