Ted Nelson- pioneer of information technology

Ted Nelson (Theodor Holm Nelson) is an American sociologist, philosopher and pioneer of  information technology. He was born on June 17, 1937 and he founded Project Xanadu in 1960. He has a documentary book that was published in 1974 called Computer Lib / Dream Machines and in 1981, Literary machines. Most of his life as an adult was dedicated to working on the Xanadu.

Even though he dedicated a lot of time on the Xanadu project, the project itself did not work (for many reasons). A journalist, Gary Wolf published an insulting history on Nelson and his Xanadu project on the June 1995 issue of Wired  calling the article “The longest-running vaporware project in the history of computing.” This was really insulting to Nelson and he threatened to sue him.

Although Nelson’s Xanadu project was not successful, he earned a Bachelor’s degree  n philosophy from Swarthmore College in 1959, a Master’s degree in sociology from Harvard University  n 1963, the Yuri Rubinsky Memorial Award at the Seventh WWW Conference in 1998 and a Doctorate in Media and Governance from Keio University in 2002. This shows us how educated he is, doesn’t he?? :]

His personal life was not as exciting as his education and awards… 😦 Although he is the son of Ralph Nelson, a director who won the Emmy Award, and Celeste Holm, an actress who won the Academy Award, his parents’ marriage was not as successful and he was raised by his grandparents most of the time. Unlike his childhood, his life during college and graduate school was a lot more bright. He started to make a plan about a computer-based writing system which could take in the world’s knowledge. He then later attributed his ideas however, was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder which affected his career.


This entry was published on January 25, 2012 at 7:06 am and is filed under Blog Post. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Ted Nelson- pioneer of information technology

  1. Great write-up! I didnt know that his parents were Emmy & Academy award winners!

  2. This is a good biographical sketch of Ted Nelson. Nicely done. Can you make the link to the wikipedia entry a cickable hyperlink, please? I think that would be a good homage to the man who came up with the word hypertext.

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