Everyone of us has experienced their own transformative moments with computers. The first time you touched a touchscreen. The first time you wrote and executed a line of code. The first time you discovered a video game that completely consumed you.
It’s often difficult to describe these moments because, like magic, they lie beyond articulation. They have to be experienced.
Computers are not magic in themselves. It’s the software that runs on them, the interaction between bits and atoms, that makes them magical.
One ingredient of computer magic is software’s ability to create even more magical experiences. It’s a tool for tools. Great software supports human intellect. But magical software enhances human creativity.
The early pioneers of modern computing described computers as “dream machines”. What got them excited about computers was not so much what they were, but everything they had the potential to be.
This is the other facet of software magic: It stretches our imagination beyond what we thought was possible. Great software makes us feel like we live in the future. But magical software allows us to imagine the future that comes after it.
We look back at these magical moments with nostalgia.
What happened to them?