Hyperland by Douglas Adams

Just finished watching Hyperland, a documentary about hypertext and other related computer technologies in 1990. It was created by Douglas Adams and stars Tom Baker (Doctor Who) as a software agent that shows Douglas the future of tv, Interactive Multimedia. I thought it was a fascinating time capsule of what Douglas thought the internet was going to be like in the future, even before people were using web browsers. The documentary talks to a variety of people like Ted Nelson and Robert Winter, but the highlight for me was Amanda Goodenough presenting Inigo Gets Out, an application for kids made with Hypercard. There’s even a fun little reference to Douglas Adams writing interactive fiction in the 80’s.

screenshot from Hyperland showing a hand choosing between icons that are hovering over someone's face while they talk

Hyperland gets some stuff wrong as anything like this is always going to but he was right about a surprising amount. Even less desirable elements like your fridge being connected to the internet are predicted here. If you have an interest in Douglas Adams or computer history I think it’s worth checking out. There’s a lot of interesting interviews about hypertext history, Tom Baker is a lot of fun to watch, and it’s only 50 minutes. You can watch it for free on the Internet Archive.

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