April 2011 Archives

Reading an old interview with Bill Joy, creator of vi (along with Charles Haley) and Java, I was struck by how much an OG nerd like him has seen, and how prescient he was:

The trouble is that UNIX is not accessible, not transparent in the way that Interleaf is, where you sit down and start poking around in the menu and explore the whole system. Someone I know sat down with a Macintosh and a Lisa and was disappointed because, in a half hour, he explored the whole system and there wasn’t as much as he thought. That’s true, but the point is in half an hour, almost without a manual you can know which button to push and you can find nearly everything. Things don’t get lost. I think that’s the key.

Systems are going to get a lot more sophisticated. Things will tend to get lost unless the interfaces are done in the Macintosh style. People who use these machines may run applications but won’t necessarily be skilled at putting applications together. A lot of these people won’t even have access to the underlying UNIX system.

You might want to page over satellite telephone… Page fault, and the computer makes a phone call. Direct broadcast or audio disk - that’s the technology to do that. It’s half a gigabyte - and you get 100 kilobyte data rate or a megabyte or something. I don’t remember. You can then carry around with you all the software you need. You can get random data through some communications link. It is very like Dick Tracy. Have you seen these digital pagers? You can really communicate digital information on a portable.

This interview was from 1984.