Magic Cap and TeleScript

Andy Hertzfeld, General Magic

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University January 21, 1994


General Magic recently introduced the Magic Cap operating system and TeleScript communications technology. To mimic the real-world desktop, they deploy 3D icons for communications devices, in/out baskets, rolodex, notebook, etc., plus door to a hallway and other "rooms." The consumer version lets users move along a computer image of a street to storefronts of interest, e.g. AT&T phone service "building" or a travel agency. Sony, Motorola, Philips, Matsushita will equip PDAs (personal digital assistants) with Magic Cap. Telescript may become standard for interactive, intelligent messaging systems. General Magic investor AT&T has Telescript-based network project called Personal Link Services which will provide handhelds with simplified access to electronic networks via intelligent agents. (as reported in the San Jose Mercury News).


Andy graduated from Brown University in June 1975 with a B.S. with honors in Computer Science. While attending graduate school at U.C. Berkeley in January 1978, he purchased an Apple II computer, which changed his life. He began developing software peripherals for the Apple II, eventually starting working at Apple Computer as a systems programmer in August 1979. He developed a number of peripheral products for the Apple II, including the Silentype printer, a low cost graphic printer as well as the first 80-column card for the Apple II.

In February 1981, he became one of the principal members of the team responsible for the design of the Macintosh, a revolutionary personal computer known for its innovative design and radical ease of use. He designed and implemented about one third of the Macintosh system software including the User Interface ToolBox and desk accessories like the Control Panel and Scrapbook.

Andy left Apple in March 1984 and has developed a number of major products on his own since then, including ThunderScan, a low cost, high resolution scanner. He continued to develop important system software for Apple, including Switcher, the Mac's first multi-tasking environment, and QuickerDraw, a graphic package which tripled the speed of key color graphics routines.

In 1986, he become a founding shareholder of Radius, Inc. where he developed innovative software for the Radius Full Page Display, which pioneered the concept of utilizing multiple screens in a single coordinate space. He also wrote the system software for the Radius Accelerator and other Radius products.

In May of 1990, Andy became a co-founder of General Magic, Inc., a start-up company involved in developing a new category of consumer electronics products called "personal intelligent communicators".

Andy desires to make computers and consumer products even more accessible to ordinary people and hopes to develop more innovative, fun products in the coming years.


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