Alan Kay on Beyond Spreadsheets

July 1, 2010 at 8:40 am 3 comments

At the early part of June (while I was in Hawaii), we were having a discussion about end-user programming and spreadsheets.  Alan Kay kindly offered a couple of articles for me to share with you, which I’m just now getting posted.  Thanks, Alan, and sorry for the delay.

“Here’s some stuff I wrote 26 years ago about what spreadsheets were really all about. Your readers might find them interesting.

Some of these ideas went into “The Analyst” (perhaps the most general spreadsheet like system ever done) that was commissioned by the CIA in the early 80s and was delivered on special Xerox PARC made computers and programmed in Smalltalk.

Among other things, the Analyst had an MVC in every cell so it was completely general about what could be stuck in a cell and how it could be displayed. As stuff came in, the CIA operators would dump them into cells and start linking them together to try to put together a composite picture and simulation (if possible) for the “events” at hand. I had already been working on an “objects only made with cells” idea, and these had several manifestations before the 1984 writings ….

We also made a children’s system (“Playground”) for our stay at the Open Magnet School that was based on many of these ideas. The original paper behind this — “Opening The Hood Of A Word Processor” — (included here) was done on a Lisa…..

There’s a lot more of this stuff in the Viewpoints archives, but this will give you the idea …”

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