Xanadu Launches on Ted Nelson’s Birthday
June 19th, 2007

The following was emailed to me. Congratulations, Ted! Perseverance furthers. If and when I find the provenance of this announcement, I will add it to this post:

Sausalito, 17 June 2007 – XanaduSpace 1.0 is now available for download at http://xanarama.net.

XanaduSpace 1.0 is a new 3D document viewer from Project Xanadu, based on the transliterary open standard at http://transliterature.org. It presently runs only on Windows. It is free.

XanaduSpace 1.0 allows the user to fly around parts of a hypertext, showing text connections as translucent beams you can fly through. An included hypertext, “Origins,” has eleven flying pages; one central page connects to various quotes from Bibles and cosmological theory.

This represents a major step for Ted Nelson, Project Xanadu’s proprietor. “It’s not our first product,” says Nelson, “but it’s the one with open-ended potential.”

By coincidence, today happens to be Ted Nelson’s seventieth birthday.

Xanadu was started in the nineteen-sixties as the first hypertext system,
but has encountered many setbacks on its way to market. Nelson is not
discussing future versions. “We’ve learned our lesson about
pre-announcement,” he says.

Project Xanadu has always had an aggressively contrarian view of electronic documents. Unlike conventional word processing or the World Wide Web, the Xanadu document design has always featured–
– profuse 2-way links, with overlap
– parallel interconnection and intercomparison
– transclusion/connected quotation
– no intrinsic hierarchy, internal or external
– independence of file boundaries
– easy annotation by many parties
– version management
– copyright management
– many possible views of a document (not WYSIWYG)

XanaduSpace 1.0 embodies the first four of these aspects. No corners have been cut and Xanadu mechanisms (now “Transliterature”) are used throughout.

Though he started Project Xanadu in the nineteen-sixties, Nelson was locked out of Xanadu technical development from 1983 to 1993 by the infamous “Silver Agreement”. During this period the official developers spent millions of dollars and accomplished nothing. Nelson was blamed in the press.

Nelson got the Xanadu trademark back in 1993, and has since then turned out a dozen experimental prototypes with various collaborators. These have led now to XanaduSpace, designed in 1999. (The design is on the web, under the name “ZX”, at http://xanadu.com/zigzag/fw99
.)

Lead programmer of XanaduSpace is Robert Adamson Smith of Manchester, who contracted the project with Nelson in 2006. Work has been greatly sped up by hidden use of Nelson’s ZigZag engine, invented in 1983 but until now having no industrial embodiment.

XanaduSpace 1.0 is also intended to help calibrate the user’s machine, so the user can find out whether it will be suitable for future XanaduSpace products, if any. (Many laptops, and Windows machines without graphics cards, give unacceptable performance.)

Bagatelle&Chamade Public Relations chambag@xanadu.net
Trademark notice: Xanadu(R) and ZigZag(R) are registered trademarks of Project Xanadu. XanaduSpace(tm) and FloatingWorld(tm) are claimed
trademarks of Project Xanadu.

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