Bill English and I wrote a paper for
the Fall Joints Computer Conference describing ARC's objectives,
physical laboratory, and the current features of NLS.
In the Spring, when the Program Committee was considering
candidate papers and organizing its sessions, I also proposed
that they let us have a full hour-and-a-half session to
put on a video-projected, real-time presentation. After
considerable deliberation, and no less than two site visits
to our lab at SRI, they consented.
It was a considerable gamble, possibly
an outright misuse of research funding. I have no illusions
that it could possibly have been pulled off without Bill
English's genius for getting things to work. Our new display
system provided us with twelve video cameras; we left
about half of them working as display generators, and
used the others to provide video views of people, borrowing
tripods and drafting all kinds of people as camera operators
So we put together a show. And we
leased two video lines up from Menlo Park to send images
from SRI to the Conference Center in San Francisco
a direct distance of about 30 miles. It required temporarily
mounting four pairs of dishes two atop our SRI
building, two atop the Conference hall, and four on a
truck parked on top of a relay mountain. We procured some
video-lab equipment: frame splitters, switches, faders,
and mixers. We made special electronics to get our mouse
and other terminal signals from the podium to the 940
And back home in the laboratory we
took cameras off our different things, borrowed tripods,
got helpers to come and help us. So we had different people,
cameramen. Stewart Brand, who was a friend of ours locally
volunteered to come and run help run cameras.
It required a special video projector,
whose rental included a specialist from New York to set
it up and operate it. He proved invaluable in making other
things work that day, too. Two cameras were mounted on
the stage where I sat at the special workstation .
I was on-stage as anchor man during
the continuous, 90-minute presentation, and Bill sat in
the canvas-enclosed, raised booth at the back of the auditorium,
directing the participants according the the script that
I had prepared. People in our laboratory had key roles,
and Bill coordinated us all via a voice intercom; while
he also did the switching and mixing and frame splitting
to put together the projected images. And I sat there
with the console and a camera sitting above the monitor
to watch my hands. And another camera and monitor to watch
I talk and that comes out on the microphone,
but there's also an earplug. What do I hear in there?
It's Bill English sitting in back in that platform, coordinating
the different people down in the peninsula, etc., for
them when they're going to come on, because they come
on and their faces get projected and they see things and
they're going to run things. And so all that chatter up
and down the peninsula, that's going on in my ear while
I'm talking here.
So it's the world's first view of
a mouse, where you could see the hand moving like that
and the cursor moving to show them how it was, going like
that. Yes, I did it. Looking down, you could watch my
hands work on the mouse and the keyset and see the results
on the top half of the screen.
And sometimes I would look interested,
but at first I was fairly grim because then I'd really
make some boo-boos. That stuff going on in my ear, one
of the things you'll notice in there is that when Bill
Paxton gives his talk and description, he's running what's
on the screen here now. And there were videos here. And
before he did that, he was talking to me. And we were
looking at all of my stuff. And both our mice cursors
were on the thing. So there's some terminology in here
like that. People weren't talking about "clicking" and
a "cursor." So what they called a "cursor" here, we called
a "bug" or a "tracking spot."
And part way through you'd hear these
funny beep beep beep beep tones. It's because we were
experimenting, that we could generate tones off the computer
that would sort of sound different depending on what the
computer was executing. We were playing those in our ears
to see if it would help you know what it's doing for you.
So those come through sometimes, too.
During that 90 minutes, we used the
projected display images (composite text and graphics)
both to present agendas and descriptive portrayals, and
also to demonstrate what NLS could do and how we applied
it to our planning, documenting, source-code development,
business management, and document retrieval.