I'm looking for evidence about Dynabook, by Alan Kay, being the inspiration for Neal Stephenson self-learning book in The Diamond Age: a young lady's illustrated primer.

  • Is there any particular reason to think there's a relationship, aside from them both being computers intended for teaching a child, and having "book" as a theme?
    – Beofett
    Jan 3, 2014 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


In "A Companion to Digital Literary Studies", Ray Siemens explictly states that the Dynabook was the inspiration for Neal Stephenson's novel.

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  • 5
    Is there any quote from Stephenson confirming this? It's one thing to say that "Oh, yes. My work influenced someone else", but that doesn't necessarily make it true. (much like saying that a binary language in Star Wars was named after you)
    – phantom42
    Jan 3, 2014 at 20:11
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    I find multiple references making the claim that Stephenson took his inspiration from Kay's concept, but they all seem to be based off of unreferenced assumptions. One could just as easily claim that Douglas Adams took his inspiration for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy from Kay, but I'm not sure Adams would agree....
    – Beofett
    Jan 3, 2014 at 20:31
  • Dynabook was very well regarded and the concept was demonstrated to all sorts of technical types including Gates and Jobs. It's generally regarded as having been the spiritual inspiration for a wide variety of tablet-type devices. That said, you could probably just as easily point to Arthur C. Clarke's "NewsPad" or the Calculator Pad in the "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov.
    – Valorum
    Jan 3, 2014 at 21:56
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    Sorry, -1. This quote seems like an assumption with no proof. Jan 4, 2014 at 1:31

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