Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Digging Silicon Valley's roots: some Homebrew Computer Club & other newsletters online

Posted by - January 26, 2005

by Doug Millison for SiliconValleyWatcher.com

While Tom and Candida are out digging up the latest Silicon Valley news live, up close, and personal, let's take a trip down Silicon Valley's Memory Lane and check out the collection of Homebrew Computer Club Newsletters (and more) at the online DigiBarn Computer Museum.

Among other firsts, the Homebrew Computer Club is where Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak showed off his first personal computer designs and prototypes in the mid 1970s. The newsletters are typewritten (remember typewriters?) and contain charming pencil illustrations - a fun and funky contrast to today's slick marketing materials.

The DigiBarn site also has newsletters from People's Computer Company, a non-profit foundation based in Menlo Park, California. The PCC newsletter morphed into Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia, with the tag line "running light without overbyte". (On a personal note, DDJ is where I began my career in technology business publishing, in the very early 1980s - but this old codger will refrain from telling any bedtime stories of the Golden Age of Microcomputing right this minute.)

The site also offers some images from Ted Nelson's groundbreaking 1974 book, Computer Lib. Nelson is a true cyberculture pioneer, credited as the inventor of the hypertext concept which he first published in 1963. DigiBarn links to Nelson's legendary Project Xanadu, described at the Project Xanadu History page as "the explicit inspiration for the World Wide Web (see Tim Berners-Lee's original proposal for the World Wide Web), for Lotus Notes (as freely acknowledged by its creator, Ray Ozzie) and for HyperCard (acknowledged by its developer, Bill Atkinson); as well as less-well-known systems, including Microcosm and Hyperwave."

Links:

Homebrew Computer Club Newsletters (at DigiBarn Computer Museum)

People's Computer Company & People's Computers Newsletters

Computer Lib/Dream Machines Retrospective

Project Xanadu History page

The History and Philosophy of Doctor Dobb's Journal

Thanks to Boing Boing for the heads-up

What's the story? Doug Millison also edits OnlineJournalist.org, "on a need-to-know basis"

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