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Hypertext

Hypertext

Hypertext is normally defined as accessing information in a non-linear fashion. Predating the emergence of computers by a few years, it was first suggested in 1945 by inventor, scientist, and teacher Vannevar Bush (18901974).

Bush was science adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War IIan era full of scientific advances, including nuclear capabilities. But he is best remembered for his idea to create an interactive, cross-referenced system of scientific research, and is considered by some as the grandfather of hypertext. Bush developed plans to build a system, called Memory Extender (Memex), because he was worried about the sudden increase of scientific information, which made it difficult for specialists to follow developments in their disciplines. Bush explored different ways to allow people to find information faster and easier.

Memex was supposed to be a machine that would hold thousands of volumes in a very small space and would allow users to retrieve any requested information just by touching a few buttons. Although the Memex was never implemented, computer scientists like Douglas Engelbart and Theodor (Ted) Nelson were inspired by Bush's ideas and became pioneers in the development of interactive systems.

The hypertext field remained dormant until Engelbart started work in 1962 on one of the first major projects related to office automation and text processing. This project was conducted at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and was demonstrated in 1968 at a special session of the Fall Joint Computer Conference. This first public presentation of many of the basic ideas in interactive computing was risky, but it changed the way people thought about computers.

Many miles from the conference site, Engelbart and a co-worker controlled a stream of computer graphics and text and video images that were displayed on a large screen. This system, called Augment, was years ahead of its time because it introduced the mouse and video display editing. It allowed mixing text and graphics, and implemented windows. It also demonstrated video conferencing and hypermedia. Engelbart introduced what is now known as an interactive multimedia workstation.

Nelson coined the word "hypertext" in 1965 while working on a computer system, Xanadu, that was to serve as storage for everything that anybody had ever written. Plans allowed access to those documents from anywhere in the world. Because it demanded a certain degree of computing power, storage, graphics, user interface, and networking sophistication, hypertext did not gain widespread public attention until Apple Computer, Inc. introduced HyperCard in 1987.

Hypertext was important because it presented two fundamental changes in the storage and retrieval of data. The first was the capability to move rapidly from one part of a document to another by means of an associative link. The sequential pattern of reading so familiar from the print world was replaced by a truly interactive format. The second change was the capability of sharing information across different machines and systems. Hypertext built upon the advances made in networking to provide transparent access to data regardless of where it was located. In short, hypertext is about connectivity within and across databases.

see also Apple Computer, Inc.; Hypermedia and Multimedia; World Wide Web.

Ida M. Flynn

Bibliography

Beekman, George, and Eugene Rathswohl. Computer Confluence, 2nd ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1999.

Nielsen, Jakob. Hypertext and Hypermedia. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc., 1990.

Shneiderman, Ben, and Greg Kearsley. Hypertext Hands-On! Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1989.

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hypertext

hypertext, technique for organizing computer databases or documents to facilitate the nonsequential retrieval of information. Related pieces of information are connected by preestablished or user-created links that allow a user to follow associative trails across the database. The linked data may be in a text, graphic, audio, or video format, allowing for multimedia presentations; when more formats than text are linked together, the technique is often referred to as hypermedia. Hypertext applications offer a variety of tools for very rapid searches for specific information; they are particularly useful for working with voluminous amounts of text, as are found in an encyclopedia or a repair and maintenance manual. See also information storage and retrieval; World Wide Web.

See G. P. Landow, ed., Hyper/Text/Theory (1994); J. A. Lennon, Hypermedia Systems and Applications: World Wide Web and Beyond (1997); D. Lowe and W. Hall, Hypermedia and the Web: An Engineering Approach (1999).

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HYPERTEXT

HYPERTEXT. A term in COMPUTING for text made up of short units (typically a paragraph, or 24-line screen) between which the reader may jump using links assigned in advance: see WORLDWIDE WEB. Unlike a book, in which the pages are in sequence, hypertext allows any of a number of pages to follow the one being read, in any order one wishes. A hypertext system, such as Apple Hypercard, contains a great many frames, each of which normally contains a single screenful of information. In each frame are several buttons or arrows which the reader can activate, and which call up another frame, on the same principle as a cross-reference in text on paper. Hypertext derives from an idea put forward in 1945 by the US computer designer Vannevar Bush, and the term was coined by the US entrepreneur Ted Nelson. Educational and other systems which include pictures and sound, are known as hypermedia.

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hypertext

hypertext A generic term covering a number of techniques used to create and view multidimensional documents, which may be entered at many points and which may be browsed in any order by interactively choosing words or key phrases as search parameters for the next text image to be viewed (see hot link). Generally a wimp style interface is used and tools are provided to help structure the text, create indexes of the text of a document, and to cross-reference between documents. The technique is related to full-text database systems. Hypertext systems provide facilities for windowing viewed text, selecting next view by mouse/keyboard marking of text fragments, searching the text database or indexes, and displaying the new text. See also hypermedia.

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hypertext

hy·per·text / ˈhīpərˌtekst/ • n. Comput. a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method. ∎  a document presented on a computer in this way.

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hypertext

hypertextBakst, unrelaxed •next, oversexed, sext, text, undersexed •teletext • context • subtext •hypertext •betwixt, unmixed •suffix

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