Shipwrecks, the Byproducts of Living in the Future

True for anyone who lived with computers in the 70's, 80's, and 90's, the list of dead technologies in our wake looks like an Alaskan coastline riddled with shipwrecks.

With my father an IBM'er, it makes perfect sense the Apple ][ and Byte Magazine debuted in my childhood home in 1978.

Fair use,

In the basement of our home outside Milwaukee, after clearing the cassette's lead, my brother and I played Hunt the Wumpus and Zork and Star Wars with paddles one of us the x-axis, the other on the y.

Star Wars

My first piece of code — and computer graphic animation — was 9 lines of BASIC in 1980.

From memory*:

10 PRINT "\O/"
20 PRINT " | "
30 PRINT "/ \"
50 PRINT " O "
60 PRINT "/|\"
70 PRINT " | "
90 GOTO 10

* I thought it was CLEAR, not CLEARSCREEN

While this may sound nostalgic, it's the opposite.

I grew up in the future, and my projects and UX designs reflected/continue to reflect this.


  • single page applications (SPAs) I tried to construct websites with complex behaviors via frames. (A nightmare.)

  • today's VR wave, I built VRML (virtual reality markup language) interfaces with 3D Studio Max and HTML.

  • Apple's all white designs, my portfolio site seared retinas. Designers: never use white interfaces. It's like staring into a flashlight.

  • the short lived side-scrolling-in-websites phase, again, I wanted to show flow in a horizontal manner.

  • turning all photos into squares became common I proposed doing so for a photo management application. Rejected, of course, because no one else did it.

  • Angular/etc's <md-sidenav-container>, I worked to create invisible interfaces which only appeared in context/on demand.

Even now, I use meometer — from late 2010 — designed for a heads up display for contact lenses/glasses which won't exist for years.

Understand, I think many of these folks did/do a better job than I did — with an exception or two — and it's not at all unique. PARC and Yugo Nakamura and Josh Davis and whoever did the design at so many others live in the future, too.

I remember 3D Systems sharing stereolithography in the late 80's, and my folks having a video phone at home in the early 90's.

Who ya gonna call? Well, grandma and grandpa. The only other people on earth with one of these puppies.

Super genius Albert Brooks nailed the experience in Mother.

Industrious Clock by Yogo Nakamura (2000)

The most difficult part lies in clear communication of one's vision. Finding new words and phrases to explain the core ideas, the core why.

The ideal way, always: show, don't tell.

A list of dead and undead tools I stone cold dug which dot my personal shoreline:

IBM Storybook (DOS | ~1984 | VGA)
Not even listed in the history of IBM, I drew and animated with Storybook on — what? — an 8088? XT?

Paul Mace GRASP (DOS | 1988 | VGA) When this hit, I could finally create interactive, graphical interfaces which did something.

Autodesk Animator (DOS | 1989 | VGA) Boom. This shattered everything. Combined with GRASP, I could do anything.

Autodesk Animator (1989) holds the distinction of having the greatest software user manual of all time. The damned thing was funny.

Autodesk Animator Pro (DOS | 1991 | SVGA) Animator's upgrade brought 16-bit color and SVGA.

(I migrated to 3D Studio for DOS, then 3D Studio Max afterward for my animation/VRML needs.)

OS/2 (~1990) "A better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows." Plus 32-bit? A handful of the multimedia diskettes and cd-roms I designed, developed, and produced for IBM contained the requirement: it needs to run on OS/2. I saw future concepts all over this baby.

Smalltalk (Win/OS/2 | ~1990) The Digitalk flavor which "focused on Intel-based PCs running Microsoft Windows or IBM's OS/2." My father explained object oriented programming to me with this.

Macromedia Authorware (DOS/Windows) I preferred this over Director, which I also used, because its visual development interface was User event driven. The User was the center of the project.

Macromedia Director The creation experience here centered on frames instead of interaction (aka event driven) which lead to more story-like experiences.

Macromedia — now Adobe — Flash Your arguments around memory-leaks and odd interfaces do not concern me. This allowed me to show and not tell with alarming fluidity.

Adobe Flex v2 bottom, top, left, right Where have you been all my life?

Adobe AIR I can make write-once, deploy-anywhere desktop apps without Java and with a me-centric design? Yes, please.

AIR for Android And now I can ship to my phone? Yes, please.

I'm less of an early adopter these days, yet still love R&D and still get burned from time to time when integrating the newest tech.

I work to publish projects on mature systems, and keep balance with a futurist-luddite approach.

I'll show you what I'm talking about next month.