Wiki Wiki Origin


In 1972, researchers at Carnegie-Mellon University developed the ZOG database system for a multi-user environment. The ZOG database system consists of text-only frames (WikiPages) which, in turn, consisted of a title, a description, a line with standard ZOG commands, and a set of selections (hypertext links) that lead to other frames.

Two of the original developers of ZOG, Donald McCracken? and Robert Akscyn, developed KMS, Knowledge Management System, an improved version of ZOG that uses a GUI (web browser). KMS is a collaborative tool (a WikiWiki) in which users modify contents of frames (WikiPages). Frame changes become visible immediately to others through dynamically updated links (hypertext).

Let's give credit where credit is long (over)due!


Was WardCunningham aware of KMS, or is the WikiWikiWeb his independent reinvention of the same concept? If the latter, ZOG (and, undoubtedly, other similar academic research projects) can't count as the origin of the WikiWikiWeb.

I had seen a number of forgettable hypertext systems before HyperCard fell into my lap. HyperCard was much less than those forgettable systems claimed to be, and wiki is, of course, much less than HyperCard. Wiki is valuable simply because it was born widely deployed. -- WardCunningham

MariusAmadoAlves created the CasBah, an independent invention of the wiki, in 1998, before he found this wiki in 2000. One installation, called Universal Casbah, is public at
At Delphi in the '80s, we had something called the Collaborative Novel that anyone could contribute to. Perhaps that was the first wiki.

WardCunningham was the first to put together all the fundamentals of WikiNature in one place and make editing it freely available online without authentication and attract sufficient numbers of powerful and generous authors to make enough content for this whole shebang to self-propagate. You can claim credit for those earlier or parallel developments if that makes you feel better about yourself - though wiki is an extremely obvious technology - but Ward alone deserves recognition for instigating the form, the content, and the community you see associated almost ubiquitously with the name "wiki".

No claims made here are irrespectful of Ward as the creator of this wiki. We're merely documenting other wikis. And wiki is not obvious. Hypertext structure and navigation is a very complex matter. Consider e.g. SpecialPages.

Perhaps one should ask BillAtkinson what was his inspiration for HyperCard. No doubt, HyperCard is a copy of the NoteCards system released by Xerox in 1985. NoteCards is a hypertext system that features scrolling windows for each note card combined with a separate browser and navigator window. The NoteCards idea descends from Janet Walker's Document Examiner for operation manuals of Symbolics computers, created in 1985, which descends from the ZOG system mentioned above. Since WardCunningham claims his inspiration for the WikiWiki is HyperCard, well, then connect the dots.

My understanding of things is that part of the motivation for WildCard (original name for HyperCard) was to show off the use of MacPaint drawings to accompany text for a multimedia presentation; and MacPaint in turn was written to show off BillAtkinson's QuickDraw library routines (originally done in PascalLanguage, BTW. -- KarlKnechtel

It would be a sad little man who could not remember one of the greatest scientists once stated, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants", and give credit where it is due. That scientist is IsaacNewton. Not necessarily a good parallel - see ShouldersOfGiants.

Text editing field of a form page rendered in a browser for collaboration is an idea as old as GUI-based web pages themselves. Thank you WardCunningham for paying for a domain, some bandwidth, some hardware and your time for slapping together some code, which revisited some very old ideas.

There is nothing new under the sun - Ward was just the first person to put the pieces together and create wiki - a collaborative, general-purpose, easy-to-use hypertext system which doesn't require special software on the client side.

The last statement is factually incorrect. The client side requires a special purpose executable known as a web browser. Typical applications of a web browser program are heavyweight clients, i.e, have compiled sizes in the range of 6 to 18 megabytes. These are not trivial programs and they are special purpose. Their purposes include rendering web pages using various content objects obtained from local and remote special purpose file servers, i.e., web servers, requesting web pages, i.e., files, and receiving files.

In the case of an edited Wiki page, a browser acts as an editor first, which allows the user to edit content. The browser then sends a request to the web server to accept its edited version of a web page. Finally, the web server returns to the user the edited page that the user edited.

"doesn't require special software" refers to the fact that anyone with a Web browser - which were ubiquitous, even when wiki was invented in 1995 - could use wiki without downloading another program created specifically for that purpose.

What about MUDS? To me, MUDS seem a lot like wikis. Someone creates the base, then the users add pages|rooms|locations which all can access.

MUDS?, well, muddy... apologies to Dr. Richard A. Bartle, the inventor of MUDS... and I should rather say murky, and also apologize to the gamers who tune in here.

DotWar predates MUDS.

Hey, that's interesting!

...later... I've now read the DotWar manual and it's so cool. I think you had way too much fun at school! And the world has reaped the benefits.

EditText of this page (last edited June 25, 2008) or FindPage with title or text search