This 2017.12.28 web site shows only the views of Lester Donald Earnest, not those of any part of Stanford University, from which he retired in 1988.
Les in 2004 with his 3D drawing of a 6D hyper-cube, also known as a super-hyper-tesseract
An Eye for Lies and a Tooth for Truth. I aim to make this web site as accurate as possible and to put down some of the many lies about computer history that appear in books, museums, television and periodicals. You may occasionally find a broken link or other problem. If so, please send a note to les at cs.stanford.edu or call me any day from 9am to 11pm Pacific Time.
Updates. This web site is a work in progress. If you would like to receive notifications of significant new postings and resulting arguments, which will be infrequent, go to mailman.stanford.edu and subscribe to sailaway3. To see recent sailawy3 postings, go to sailaway3 Archives and click on “[ Date ]” in the bottom line to see them in chronological order.
Recent Postings on this Site
Computer Networks tells how the biggest Military-Industrial-Congressional fraud of the 20th Century launched both other frauds and the Internet, which mainly evolved from projects initiated by people at MIT. This account strongly conflicts with the fake histories that have been appearing in public media for years.
Bird Thanksgiving is a half-minute video shot through Les and Mrian’s kitchen window in Los Altos Hills, California, filmed by son-in-law Paul Riggs and showing the annual celebration by local birds of the ripening of Toyon berries, which eventually turn a bit alcoholic. This causes the birds to go wild and sometimes fly into windows, getting knocked out.
That phenomenon was the basis of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film “The Birds,” which was mostly filmed in Bodega Bay, about 60 miles north. Toyon trees, also called Hollywood, grow in coastal regions from southwest Oregon to Baja California, including the canyons just north of what came to be called Hollywood, California.
A Dedicated Umbraphile: Four Eclipses with More to Come reviews Les’s addiction to solar eclipses.
SAIL History summarizes mainly the history of the old lab that ran from 1966 to 1980. but avoids talking about a lot of the corruption that was initiated by SAILors, other faculty and staff members, and spinoff corporations such as Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Facebook.
I’ve had an enjoyable life as a troublemaking badass having been born in San Diego in 1930 and growing up there as a bicycling, body-surfing bad boy. After rising through the ranks of the Cub Scouts I was dishonorably discharged for artistic misconduct, so I never got to be a Boy Scout.
I was raised under the influence of my dad as a Protestant Right-wing Republican bigot who hated niggers, kikes, fags, Latinos, and Asians while overlooking the fact that my mom got along with people of all kinds, initially as a grammar school teacher, then a Junior High teacher, then Vice Principal, then, having earned a PhD from USC in her “spare time” while raising two kids, she became a beloved college professor. Nevertheless, I continued on my bigoted path until after I voted for Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy, then figured out that I was on the wrong track and eventually evolved into a radical socialist who aims to destroy Wall Street and similar piracy organizations around the world.
I got into trouble early in World War II as a result of reading the only book then available on cryptography along with my best buddy, Bobby Bond, and creating an advanced cryptographic scheme. I unfortunately lost a copy of our crypto sheet while riding a streetcar home from the beach and it evidently was turned over to the FBI, to whom it looked like the work of a Japanese spy. It reportedly took a bunch of agents working full time for about three months to find me and they were rather disappointed to learn that I was only 11 years old.
Leaping ahead, I am now 87 years old and have accomplished quite a bit in spite of having survived 12 brushes with death so far and being well past the age by which most people are dead. I retired in 1988 because of a misdiagnosed physical ailment that put me in a mental fog for 14 years. Happily, I eventually got it fixed and am again now going strong, both mentally and physically, though I am having increasing problems with anomia (inability to retrieve proper nouns, including people’s names), but am generally able to work around that using online searches when I have time.
Happily, I still have pretty clear recollections of ancient history and have a lot of printed and digital records of what happened back then. In fact, I now seem to have a better understanding of how and why the world has been changing the way it has than I did earlier in life and plan to document some of it.
Having 15 descendants, including 6 great grandchildren with more on the way, I have decided to live to age 112, so as to see some great-great-grandchildren and maybe a great-great-great-Grandchild or two, then make room for them by getting snuffed out and passing on my remaining wealth.
My wife Marian and her daughter Carrie made friends with a prominent Irishman
Marian is a retired PhD psychologist. Carrie worked as a model in Paris and elsewhere during college and is now a photographer and mom. O’Bama and I each have substantial Irish heritage and we both now enjoy the freedom of retirement while still stirring the pot.
Impeach and Dump Trump now!
See also “Trumps Ties to Russian Mobsters” and “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections.” Trump’s decision to fire the person in charge of the FBI investigation into interactions between his staff members and Russian manipulators should have resulted result in his prompt impeachment but it is not clear whether his Republican colleagues who control Congress have the intelligence and guts to do that. However new information looks like that may happen soon.
For longer term reform, let’s create a new nation composed of California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and make it a true democracy opposed to war, unlike USA -- see Form Pacifica Now. There is also an online interview of me on this topic.
After a medical scare in early 2016, I decided to write a Bucket List of things I want to accomplish and, in order to complete it, I plan to live to age 112, then in 2043 i aim to be shot in the back while running away from a jealous husband and have my body turned over to the Stanford Medical Group for use in training future surgeons.
I invented a lot of things that are now in use around the world and, having accomplished quite a bit while doing a poor job of publicizing it, I am now trying to remedy that. Here are some inventions that are now in use around the world, or soon will be, that I initiated, often with help from colleagues.
· Spelling checker (1961), which I created as part of the first cursive handwriting recognizer. It was added to text editors in the 1970s,
· Search engine (ROUT, 1961), an idea that was reinvented by others about 35 years later and blossomed in the new millennium in Google and others.
· Self-driving vehicle (Stanford Cart, 1966) which, over 50 years later is about to blossom,
· Digital photography (1967), which continues to blossom,
· Document compiler with spreadsheets, automatic indexing and other advances (PUB, 1971), done in collaboration with Larry Tesler, which gave rise to a number of more advanced documentation systems,
· Social networking and blogging service (FINGER, 1972), which got ripped off by the corrupt Facebook, which I aim to destroy.
· Online restaurant reviews (California YumYum, 1973), one of the many modern version of which is on yelp.com,
· Computer controlled vending machine (Prancing Pony, 1974), a scheme now widely used,
· Network news service (NS, 1974), done in collaboration with Martin Frost, with many modern versions now,
· Lots more – see my personal web page.
I believe that those inventions generally improved the quality of life, which was my goal. For some reason, public media measure the success of inventions by the amount of profits they bring in, which I view as nonsense, but on that basis it appears that the value of my inventions exceed those of anyone else alive, having brought in many hundreds of billions of dollars, though I haven’t done the math because I don’t care.
I did all that inventing in open source mode, taking no patents, and freely provided documentation to anyone who wanted it. I considered it an honor when someone turned one of my inventions into a multi-billion-dollar product even though they never gave me a nickel.
If I did all that, you may wonder, why have you never heard of me? It is mainly because, unlike others, I did not hire publicists to call attention to my accomplishments or to distort the facts so as to expand the scope of my brags, as was done for my old friend Doug Engelbart and an arrogant twit named Steve Jobs, who I had introduced to interactive computing along with Steve Wozniak, when they visited our Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) in 1975, a year before they ate the Apple.
Computer networks are a result of five main developments so far, with more to come. The photo at left is a geographic display terminal, one of thousands used in the SAGE air defense system, which was the first computer network. For more details on this topic, click on the photo at left.
The Internet is a result of the following five main developments, with more to come.
· First Computer Network: SAGE air defense system, initiated by MIT in the early 1950s, built by many corrupt contractors and operational 1958-1982 even though it never worked.
· General Purpose Interactive Computing: timesharing systems, developed at MIT. Began operating in 1962 and went commercial in 1965.
· General Purpose Computer Networking, initiated by people from MIT and funded by the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), resulting in the ARPANET, which largely interconnected academic institutions.
· Network Interconnections: Internet Protocols developed at Stanford University, released in 1974 and eventually adopted widely, forming the Internet. Also called TCP/IP.
· Standardized Graphical Terminal Interface: World-Wide-Web, started at CERN in Switzerland in 1990, came into widespread use by 2000 and its standards are now maintained at MIT.
Thus, MIT played a major part in creating the Internet. By chance, Lester Earnest contributed to each of the above developments and is evidently the only person in the world who did that.
Cyclops USA (1979-2043) is an irregular journal of bicycle racing, proposed reforms and helmet standards. It was initially published in pamphlet form and switched to the web in the new millennium.
I began cycling in 1933 and my wife and I were drawn into bike racing in 1972 by our two sons. I was initially successful in improving many racing rules while liberalizing clothing regulations and in 1979 I completely rewrote the American rules to make them less ambiguous, adding penalty standardization, and got them adopted.
In 1984, I wrote the first medical control rules for cycling and got them adopted. After investigating the unethical but legal use of blood doping by the American cycling team in the 1984 Olympics, I introduced a rule prohibiting that practice, which then spread around the world in many sports and eventually nailed Lance Armstrong and his fellow crooks.
After a lengthy battle, I also got a rule adopted in 1986 requiring that strong helmets be worn. It too spread around the world and has since saved thousands of lives.
In 1993, I initiated the creation of a new national bike racing association called USA Cycling. However corrupt commercial interests bribed their way into control of the legislative process and succeeded in amending it to give a majority of the seats on the Board of Directors to commercial interests who made up less than 1% of the participants in the sport. Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts at reform, the crooks still control this sport as well as most of the US Olympic Committee and its subordinate athletic organizations.
Meanwhile, I have organized an underground group of former and current participants in bike racing aimed at reorganizing an overthrowing the crooks. Our name reflects the way we plan to do it: ROSA (Reform the Olympic Sports Act).
John McCarthy (1927-2011) was a world-class innovator who introduced the term “artificial intelligence” (AI) and did a lot of pioneering work in that field. He was raised as a Communist, then later toured Russia, learning to speak the language and made friends with a number of Russian scientists.
1943-49 Graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in mathematics then spent another year there in graduate studies.
1950-53 went to Princeton University and received a PhD in 1951, then taught there.
1953-55 Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Stanford.
1955-58 Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College and co-editor of a book with Claude Shannon titled Automata Studies (1956). Also introduced the term “artificial intelligence” at a summer conference there.
1958-62 Assistant Professor of Communications at MIT and with Marvin Minsky cofounded the AI Project there. Created the list programming language called LISP, which has been widely used in AI work, and oversaw creation of one of the earliest chess-playing programs. He also wrote a paper on how to do general purpose timesharing that inspired several groups in the MIT community to develop such systems. That technology soon dominated the world of computing and enabled computer networking.
1962-1965 Returned to Stanford as a Professor of Mathematics and started a new AI Project funded by ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency), a part of the U.S. Defense Department. When a Computer Science Department was formed in early 1965, McCarthy joined it, as did Edward Feigenbaum. They then put together a proposal to ARPA for an expanded AI research facility that was funded by ARPA.
1965-2000 Lester Earnest joined McCarthy and Feigenbaum in late 1965 and set up the new SAIL research lab (see below). In 1980, after SAIL moved back to the main campus, McCarthy shut it down and fired Earnest, but asked him to come back four years later, which he did. McCarthy retired in 2000 and passed away in 2011. Meanwhile Sebastian Thrun revived SAIL in 2003 and it has continued.
Planet Earth. Life first appeared on Earth about 4 billion years ago and has evolved a lot while surviving five mass extinctions caused by environmental disasters, the most recent being the result of a large asteroid striking the north end of the Yucatan Peninsula about 66 million years ago, which wiped out all life above ground including the large dinosaurs. A few small dinosaurs survived, which we call birds, but mammals then began dominating and eventually hominids (proto-humans) appeared about 6 million years ago, evolving as hunter-gatherers for millions of years. Adaptations to that lifestyle put a lot of genetic knowledge and fantasies in their minds that have been passed down to us, but many of those fantasies do not work well in the modern world of rapidly advancing technology. Consequently, mankind is now causing the sixth mass extinction of life, which may turn the planet over to a new species unless we can find a way to change our ways quickly.
SAIL, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory came out of the Artificial Intelligence Project initiated by Prof. John McCarthy, with funding from the Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).
In 1965 ARPA funding was substantially increased and Lester Earnest was recruited to create and manage the new research lab. Earnest started by designing a new computer research facility to fit in an incomplete building in the foothills above the Stanford Campus, then got it built, named it SAIL, and managed it for many years. It ran with a population of 100+ doing graduate research on various projects in AI, mechanical engineering, electronic system design, music composition and synthesis, and some other fields. SAIL enabled many graduate students to earn PhDs and other degrees.
There are many successful spinoffs from SAIL, including the four richest corporations in the World today: Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon. The ACM Turing Awards, which are widely viewed as the Nobel prizes of Computer Science, provide another measure: of the 65 worldwide awards given so far, 18 have gone to people from SAIL, which evidently is more than any other research group in the world, even those with much larger populations.
Silly Con Valley (1972-2018) is the promotional name given to the southern part of San Francisco Bay in 1971 and became a great marketing success as the name “Silicon” was added to other places around the world. This place had earlier developed an innovative culture but it needs a better name. Soon see Renaming Silly Con Valley, which will reflect the geographic expansion of technological organizations that has taken place here.
When I came to Stanford at the end of 1965 and bought a house in the Town of Los Altos Hills it was a quiet and friendly rural community dominated by apricot orchards, with a few horse ranches and cattle fields. There were few fences or gates so people could walk or ride cross-country in almost any direction. Some people now pretend that it was called the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” which was a myth. Now, after real estate values have shot skyward, my home value is over 1,000 times what I paid for it and the construction of many mansions has caused this place to become very snooty.
Stanford Spinners. During 1963-89, five related research groups at Stanford trained hundreds of computer scientists, engineers, musicians and others who have settled around the world but have especially influenced the development of Silly Con Valley. We call them spinners because they produced a lot of spinoff organizations, products and services:
· SAIL (Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory),
· HPP (Heuristic Programming Project),
· CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics),
· NPDP (Network Protocol Development Project),
· TeX+MF (TeX/METAFONT Project)
Most started as parts of SAIL, then blossomed separately.