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Vannevar Bush and Memex cont...

[ Picture, Vannevar Bush ]

Bush believed that there must be a way to unite all of this information for more efficient use and availability. His solution to the problem was through a process of mechanization. In his 1933 publishing, "The Inscrutable Thirties," Bush presents a utopian way of criticizing the present, in order to foresee the future (Bush, 1946). He believed that technology would and should be used to its fullest capability, and more specifically, used to "support innovation in knowledge transfer and storage" (Nyce & Kahn, 52). While at MIT in 1937, Bush presented the idea for a machine called the Rapid Selector. With this machine, Bush's goal was to discover how information stored on microfilm could be used in a library. The Rapid Selector would use the technologies of photographic reproduction and optics - both were used to support the ideas of Memex (Nyce & Kahn, 41).

In 1939 Vannevar Bush published his first work that described Memex in detail: "Mechanization and the Record". In this document he described a machine that would combine lower level technologies, in order to achieve a higher level of function, similar to the processes of the human brain. Bush's primary focus was on the use of microfilm, which he believed could provide a way to miniaturize, distribute, and select information (Nyce & Kahn, 42-44). In 1939 Bush first used the term "Memex" in a letter written to the editor of Fortune Magazine (Nyce & Kahn, 52). The Memex that he mentioned would be a machine that would help manage the record, and help scientists attain a sense of organization and control of their intellectual information.

The letter was actually very similar to the text of "As We May Think," the work that would fully describe the Memex. The only differences between the two documents were their introductions and conclusions (Nyce & Kahn, 52). However, the 1945 printing of "As We May Think" by the Atlantic Monthly, and later by LIFE magazine (Nyce & Kahn, 85), would gain Bush a great deal of recognition once again.


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