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⬐ martttMore on the Canon Cat:
There are also a few previous HN discussions on this machine.
EDIT: I just have to post this lovely scene from the original video separately. This is about human-computer interaction after all, isn't it!
Aren't we actually approaching an age where this kind of (almost-)single-purpose machines might be making a comeback? The focus this model seems to allow or enforce on the user feels kind of... healthy.
I had read a lot about the Cat, but never saw it in action, so I decided to look for a video. This is a fascinating view into Raskin's user interface concepts. The world might have been a very different place if Jobs hadn't interfered with the Macintosh project.
⬐ StratoscopeIf you're near the SF Peninsula and are curious to see a Cat in person, I have a working one here in Menlo Park, and an open invitation to any HN regulars who are interested in trying it out.
It is indeed a very different UI concept! No pointing device. No graphics. Not even cursor keys, instead it has LEAP keys to navigate.
There seems to be very little information about it on YouTube. It would be great if you could make some videos about it, or lend it to someone who could. I would do it if I were still in California. I have really been getting into documenting obscure retro computer stuff recently. Mostly old Macs. I have 14. :-)
I don't know anything about the Swyft card, but I know something about the Cat (not much). The Swyft card implemented at least the cursor positioning stuff in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_TlE_U_X3c#t=52
Some things about the Cat that aren't in that video are interesting. The whole thing was a single-user (fine by me), single-process (fine for the time) and single-program system. When you turn it off it writes its whole memory (incl. framebuffer) out to disk, which I think is the only thing on the disk actually, and when you turn it on it reads it back in to memory. So it never had any concept of a file, of saving a file, or opening a file. Saving a document was just saving your state, which includes the document, and opening a document was leaping to that part of the screen.
You could migrate your session by just carrying the disk with you.
The tabulating and (re)calculating thing is slick, and I think the Swyft might have provided that feature too. If someone could figure out a way to reconcile that with the Unix notion that different programs, running in different processes, must do different things, I would be so happy.