Theodore H (Ted) Nelson coins the word Hypertext

Theodore H (Ted) Nelson coins the word Hypertext

Conventional wisdom has it that the Internet started off as an American defence and educational network, then Tim Berners-Lee came along and invented the World Wide Web and the rest is history.

But there's another, far more obscure figure, who can be credited with originating the idea of 'hypertext' long before it was ever applied to the Internet.

As far back as 1960, Theodore H (Ted) Nelson was developing an idea for an interconnected network of documents with embedded links to each other. In 1963 he chose the word 'hypertext' to describe the system, publishing his theories in 1965's groundbreaking paper, "A File Structure for the complex, the changing and the Intermediate" for the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM's) national conference. By 1967 he'd chosen the name Xanadu for his hypertext project, from Coleridge's poem about Kublai Khan.

While the Xanadu project itself has so far not come to fruition as a real working system, the ideas directly inspired Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web, Ray Ozzie's Lotus Notes, and Bill Atkinson's HyperCard (the first multimedia system).

By inventing the idea of hypertext, Ted Nelson was the under praised architect of some of the most influential new information structures in the history of computing.

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Theodore H (Ted) Nelson  coins the word Hypertext

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