"In 1974, before ordinary folks could get their hands on a computer (or saw any
reason why they should), Ted Nelson self-published a remarkable book titled
Computer Lib. (Flip it over and you get a companion book, Dream Machines.)
On page after page dense with typographic eccentricities (“I write to be read
aloud”) and skewed blocks of text, he explained computers and software to the
lay reader as it had never been done before (or since).
The book looked the way it did partly because it was influenced by The Whole
Earth Catalog (as well as Pete Seeger’s banjo book and Tom Cahill’s automobile
reviews and a book on building geodesic domes…), but also because of what Ted
meant by self-publishing. “I got the idea, thought up each word, typed up the
text, pasted it onto sheets of cardboard [at whatever angle seemed fitting —
ms], took it to a nice printer and said Here is Some Money Mr. Nice Printer,
and I brought home a lot of cartons of books … and proceeded to sell them.” And
sell them he did. Entertaining, educational, and timely, Computer Lib was a
modest success right from that first edition.
But Computer Lib was not just an entertaining and educational introduction to
all things computer. It was also a radical political manifesto."
I read this book at school, wrote to Ted and subsequently became a Xanadu team
member and system administrator for the last 30 years or so.
Share and enjoy,
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics