Vannevar Bush: Hypertext Prophet

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Vannevar Bush is an unlikely cyberculture hero. After all, he was F.D.R.'s World War II science czar, organized the Manhattan Project and helped create the postwar military-industrial-university complex. But the onetime professor at M.I.T.--where he built a massive, gear-driven analog computer called the differential analyzer--was also a prophet. In 1945, dismayed by the wartime info overload, he proposed a desktop machine, the "memex," that would display text and pictures (from a microfilm library) at the press of a button. Presciently, Bush envisioned users of his proto-PC following trails of knowledge along storable hypertext "links," much like today's Web surfers.