[vcf-midatlantic] MagicCap & General Magic

Richard Cini rich.cini at gmail.com
Fri Feb 28 13:31:24 EST 2020

All –


                I was in LA this past week and on the flight there, they had the documentary “General Magic” from 2018. I don’t remember hearing about the movie, but I definitely remember General Magic. I didn’t have time to watch it on the plane but I watched some YouTube videos after I got to LA. Fascinating story, kind of reminds me of Jerry Kaplan and the EO. If you look, the raw documentary footage on YT is great, especially the huge prototypes and the struggles to find a decent touch screen.


                Anyway, as I started digging, I found this link from Adafruit: https://learn.adafruit.com/magic-cap-the-smartphone-os-from-the-90s/overview


                So, this was a good reason to reinstall Basilisk II on my Mac (needed to be updated for Catalina anyway), and play around with it. It’s amazing how many concepts made it into other products, and of course how prolific the people were overall. Also interesting is the use of the phrase in 1992 of “the cloud” to describe virtualized data services, something we take for granted now. When GM blew-up, the IP was sold (even though Andy Hertzfeld tried to buy it), but I’ve seen two references to Paul Allen/Vulcan and Nathan Myhrvold/Intellectual Ventures buying them for a “failed startup graveyard” of sorts. That’s the kind of software I wish would be opened-up, but there are many patents associated with it which are still relevant, so I doubt it would happen.


                Anyway, great thing to learn about over the trip.





Rich Cini





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