Nelson Going to Japan, Will Design Media at New Hyperlab


Interesting Times - The Ted Nelson News Letter, Number Three, October 1994
For Immediate Release September 23, 1994.

Sausalito, California and Sapporo, Japan, September 23. Ted Nelson Studios and the Sapporo Electronic Center jointly announced today the forming of the Sapporo HyperLab, a new design center for electronic media for the Internet.

Marlene Mallicoat, Vice President for Operations of Ted Nelson Studios, and Mr. Takatoshi Machida, Chief of the Sapporo Electronics Center Foundation, announced today the signing of an agreement between Ted Nelson Studios and the Sapporo Electronics Center Foundation for the development of new software and media, to be conducted under the name Sapporo HyperLab.

The HyperLab will implement join projects of Theodor Holm Nelson, inventor of hypertext and founder of Project Canadu, and Professor Yuzuru Tanaka, Proffessor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Hokkaido, to provide new software and media to be distributed free on the Internet.

Signing the agreement for the Sapporo Electronics Center was Mr. Osamu Inadohmaru, Executive Director oat the Sapporo Electronics Cnter. The HyperLab project will be headed by Mr. Takatoshi Machida.

Programming of the project will be based on Professor Tanaka's "Intelligent Pad" software system, which has been described as "HyperCard on Steroids." In development Since 1987, IntelligentPad is available as freeware on the Internet (from anonymous ftp site ftp.north.ad.jp). Commercial versions of IntelligentPad are also being marketed by Fujitsu and Hitachi Software.

Professor Tanaka is a leading computer software and hardware researcher in Japan. Besides his well[known work on IntelligenPad, he has done extensive work on database hardware and software.

Nelson will hold the title of Research Fellow at the Sapporo HyperLab, and will personally work in Sapporo for much of the coming year. Nelson will retain his California residence, supplying design services to the laboratory through Ted Nelson Studios, a California corporation headquartered in Sausalito.

Marlene Mallicoat, a software designer and project team leader formerly with IBM, will be Research Associate at Sapporo HyperLab, as well as continuing her responsibilities for Ted Nelson Studios.

Nelson will contribute software designs to be implemented for distribution on the Net, several long postponed over his thirty-four years as a maverick designer in the computer field. Nelson says he will be "going back to basics" - beginning with his first published design, "zipper lists" from 1965.

Nelson was the original discoverer of hypertext, interactive media and network publishing. In 1960 he postulated- and started planning for- the network deriving a number of words current in the computer field, including "hypertext," "hypermedia," "image synthesis," "technoid" and "dildonics," as well as "electronic visulalization" (from whic the now-common term"visualization" entered the computer field).

Nelson was most recently in the news when Autodesk, Inc. dropped his Xanadu project, after putting several million dollars into it. Nelson remains the proprietor of the Xanadu name, as well as retaining some interest in the software developed by his group at Autodesk.

Ted Nelson in Japan

While many famous American computer people travel often to Japan, few actually work there. Nelson will be one of the best-known American software designers actually working in Japan.

"I very much look forward to working in Japan," says Nelson. "I love Japan, its energy, its effectiveness and its people." "You've heard of the prophet without honor in his own country," says Nelson. "Well, it's true. But they listen to me over there."

"The nature and difference of my designs has not been well understood in teh American computer world, where ideas are reduced to slogans and sales ratings. My ideas have been much beter understood abroad--especially in Japan."

About Nelson's Work--

Throughout a controversial career, Nelson has purued his dream of Xandu (his tradmark), originally intended as a writing and intercomparison console, then expanded to a software design for the clobal delivery of connected documents. The name "Xandu" is from Coleridge's "Kubla Khan," considered one of the most romantic poems of the 19th Century. For Nelson the name signifies "the magic place of literary memory."

nelson's software designs have always been radically different from others in the field. A principal aspect of his designs since 1960 has been the intercomparison of corresponding objects. he believes this is necessary in all field, from CAD to the negotiations of treaties, to help users understand diffeerences and similarities among documents, designs, examples and theories.

"Software today still deals with isolated objects," says Nelson. "It is their relationships that we mush understand. The pie chart, a trivial visualization format, symbolizes the low state of software today. We must e able to see and compare complex structures in their depth nd complexity."

Most of Nelson's designs, including Xandu, have revolved around his "transclusion" concep t, which he sees as the key to the re-use, intercomparison and understanding of materials in all media. Transcluded data is not copied form one object to another, but merely pointed at and brought when necessary from teh original.

Transclusion has recently aroused great interest in teh copyright arena, since it offers exact payment and credit to al participating publishers, authors and producers.

World Wide Web, teh phenomenally successful Internet program for distributed hypertext, is eplicitly based on Nelson's work. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world Wide Web, originally designed it as a simplified version of Xanadu after reading Nelson's book Literary Machines.

About IntelligentPad

IntellingentPad is a visual, object orented user environment and programming language for all purposes. The IntelligentPad system packages all data and programs into units called "pads," which the user places visually on top of one another to create new objects and functions. All the layers together produce a "composite pad," which can be a powerful interactive computer program, and which can in turn become the starting base for new functions in a new pad.

Hundreds of "primitive" pads give the beginning user of IntelligentPad a rich working environment. Primitive pads include video, as well as screen-constructed widgets and other features more standard in programming languages.

Users of IntelligentPad also have acess to tCL, a general-purpose freware language which can give to the user a wide variety of additional powers.

Development and promotion of IntelligentPad is continuming under the IntelligentPad Consortium, sposored by a number of companies in Japan and the United states.

About Sapporo and The Center

Sapporo is the fifth-largest city of Japan, with a population of nearly two million. Situated by teh sea among beautiful mountains, Sapporo is teh capital of Hokkaido, teh principal northern island of Japan. The Sapporo Electronics Center is sponsoring hypermedia development as an initiative for the industrial development of the city of Sapporo.


(C) 1994 Theodor Holm Nelson ......................................................Mindful Press