Contest: Win an Alto User’s Handbook & Smalltalk Instruction Manual

alto edited.jpg

When I visited PARC for the second time, I asked the staff what kinds of historical mementos they had lying around. Not only did they promptly hand me a copy of the Alto User’s Handbook from 1979 and a Smalltalk-72 Instruction Manual from 1976, BUT they also told me I could keep them.

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How cool is that?

Then it occurred to me that not just anyone can call up PARC, schedule an appointment and commandeer these classic manuals. Sure you could visit the DigiBarn and ask to see one, or try eBay and Amazon. But I do realize it’s a bit gauche to show off my good fortune, which is why BBG is going to give away these collector’s items to one reader.

What to Enter:

1) share any pics of yourself using an Alto
2) share any stories about your use of an Alto/Smalltalk, memories of the first Alto you saw, etc.
3) write a poem, paint a watercolor portrait of Alan Kay or create some other homage to PARC

How to Enter:

1) include text and/or links in the comments OR email me steven AT boingboing DOT net
2) if you leave your entry via the comments, be sure to include your email address, and be sure to write/format the address as I did to avoid spammers

Who Wins:

BBG will choose one person, winner-take-all. Good luck!

Alto photo provided by PARC

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6 Responses to Contest: Win an Alto User’s Handbook & Smalltalk Instruction Manual

  1. Anonymous says:

    LambdaMOO taught me more about inheritance and classes in programming than any book or class in C++ I ever had. I still remember Sick’s Slightly Sick Player class had to inherit movement, speech, gender (I preferred spivak or *e)

    LambdaMOO was big, thousands online at a time, and the guests were labelled by colour, which got interesting at the high end – PlaidGuest, InvisibleGuest, TechnicolorGuest, not strictly colours but it got the job done.

    I’ve been wracking my brain for the command to muzzle the parrot in the living room, who would blurt out random overheard quotes.

    They eventually allowed people to ‘spectate’ on this newfangled WWW thingy.

    - GimpWii

  2. James says:

    Just so we can plan our entries, what’s the deadline for this contest?

  3. dculberson says:

    I’m actually not keen on winning, so don’t consider this an entry. But my experience with the Alto is limited to it’s successor, the 6085. As an inquisitive teenager, I acquired a 6085 complete with 19″ greyscale monitor, optical mouse, and keyboard, but no optical mouse pad. Initially, I used a piece of paper with a grid drawn on it in sharpie, but eventually upgraded to a Sun optical mouse pad. Even in 1991 (or so?), it felt like the future to me. I had an Amiga so was used to the GUI portion, but the high resolution display and very corporate feeling desktop just seemed like what the business world would be like.

    The tower itself was also a very impressive looking piece of equipment, screaming the future in a very sedate way.

    I remember feeling like I could run the world from that thing, if I could just figure out how it all worked. It had Ethernet, for cripe’s sake! Built in!

  4. I was actually introduced to the Alto by Richard Stallman. He showed me how it worked by moving the mouse, which moved the cursor around on the screen. It was amazing. I made the mistake of picking up the mouse to try it, and he literally slapped my hand – “That’s not how it works!”. Stallman was just loads of fun, even in the early 80′s.

    I later worked with Alan Kay, David Reed, and Andreas Raab to create Open Croquet.

  5. Clay says:

    I had not drawn a portrait in quite some time, so thanks for a fine excuse to break out the Wacom this evening.

  6. Clay says:

    Ah, right, step 2: clayton à ns-ae • net

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