Tag Archives | Vannevar Bush

How Polaroid Failed to Introduce the Kindle in the Mid-1940s

Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) is justly famous for his 1945 Atlantic essay “As We May Think.” It proposes a device called a memex which bears an uncanny resemblance to a personal computer connected to the World Wide Web–or at least as close as anyone could come five decades before the Web changed the world.

As described in the Atlantic article, the memex was the size of a desk. But Bush also had an idea for a portable microfilm reader–which sounds like it would have been to the Kindle as the memex was to the PC–and tried to convince Edwin Land, cofounder of Polaroid, to help him build it. That’s one of the innumerable interesting things about Polaroid which I learned but couldn’t fit into my story “Polaroid’s SX-70: The Art and Science of the Nearly Impossible.”

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