This is a site where I put interesting information I've run across or researched. In some places is a cursory summary of a newspaper or journal article and in others it may be the most comprehensive page on the Web.

Subjects range from a taxonomy of living things to an an overview of religions to nuts and bolts to going to the bathroom in the woods .
The most popular pages are here.

When it was hosted at geocities (2000 - 2009) (www.geocities.com/dtmcbride) the 2,500+ pages here were getting 60,000 hits per month.

The current site is at donsnotes.com, donsnotes.info and donsnotes.org.

Background:
In 1981 I transferred to a job at AT&T, from the R&D arm, Bell Labs, to work on prototype office automation services (e-mail, electronic calendars, on-line data access, ..). I created an internal portal-like information service using dumb terminals (CRTs) connected to a UNIX microcomputer via modems over telephone lines to consolidate information from internal corporate mainframe databases and online information services such as the Source and Compuserve to show how computing could be brought to the desktop. The IBM PC was introduced later in that year. The Internet and TCP/IP protocol came several years later. Among other services it provided information to our managers who traveled with information on airline schedules from the Official Airline Guide (OAG) and corporate discount rates for hotels in the headquarter cites of the Bell Operating Companies. It also corporate indices that AT&T used to track the performance of the 22 Bell telephone operating companies.

In 1983 Xerox invited us out to their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) to play with a new computer (Alto) that had a icon based graphical user interface controlled by a device called a mouse. It was pretty clear to me this would be the future of personal computing.

In 1985, after the breakup of AT&T, I created a consulting company called DIMEX (Digital Information Management and Exchange).
Note: Google's Mission statement "Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", 20 years later is an expansion of this same idea.

Some friends and I worked on a project to develop the next killer application to follow Lotus 1-2-3 (A spread sheet on the new IBM PC under DOS). I was impressed with Ted Nelson's work on hypertext in 1965 and was convinced that it was the future of electronic documents. We used a hypertext application called FileVision on the new graphical user interface computing platform from Apple called Macintosh, which used much of the interface developed at Xerox PARC. We created a set of interactive maps with links to restaurants, ATMs (you had to search to find them in 1985), gas stations, tourist attractions, etc. called Mac Travel Guide, which was written up in several of the Mac magazines. This was 12 or more years before Travelocity and Google maps.

I was also a fan of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog first published in 1968, which had an eclectic mix of tools, products, people, science, philosophy, how to, ...
And I think some of that comes thru in this site.

Many of the maps and graphics here are still hand drawn 2-bit (black and white) designed to fit on the 512x342 pixel screen of the 512K Mac Plus introduced in 1985. Scanners and good mapping software was too expensive then.
Other graphics done in the early 90s are still small (most monitors were VGA [640x480] resolution).

It was later ported to HyperCard a HyperText application developed by Apple in 1991 based on the smalltalk object oriented programming language. I continued to add topics of interest, including a popular telephone area-code guide searchable by zip code.

FileVision and HyperCard both had features which still do not exist in the HTML format used by Web browsers.

At the same time I developed an Internet portal for Bellcore/Telcorida, the software and R&D arm of the Regional Bell Operating Telephone companies, with indexes to developments in the area of data and voice communications as well as internal project and corporate travel information. It initially used FTP services such as Gopher and Archie and eventually the web in 1994 as the Hypertext markup language (HTML) browser, Mosaic, was developed by NCSA at the U. of Ill.

In 1996 the data from my 1985-91 prototype was converted to HTML format and published on the web at: web.mit.edu/tomm/www (my son's web site).

In 2000 some of the data from this web portal was combined with the original database which had expanded to provide historical information along with information on digital products and services which were exploding at the time and it was moved to Netscape's free web hosting site and then to another free hosting service, geocities.
In 2009 it was moved here when yahoo shut down geocities.

My dream was to create something like wikipedia, but thought it would have to be more tightly managed. Having managed collaborative system design projects and technical reports I found it very hard to get creative people to follow standard, consistent formats, although in the 90's we did not have all the technical tools to enforce consistency. Kudos to Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger and their team for pulling it off.

A 30 year journey to get here, with a lot of fun along the way as technology continued to expanded functionality to make it possible. However, there were features in the 1984 Filevision and 1991 Hypercard which do not exist in 2010 vintage web browsers and many of the problems in todays web (e.g. broken links) would not exist if Ted Nelson 40 year old model for hypertext had been used.

Links:
History of the Internet
History of Hypertext


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last updated 7 May 2010