Coinage of "Hypertext"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jun 9 12:07:03 UTC 2001

In tomorrow's "On Language" column, William Safire contacts Ted Nelson,
the coiner of the term "hypertext."  Nelson tells Safire that "the coinage
was in an August 1965 paper by Nelson titled 'A File Structure for the
Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate.'"

In fact, "hypertext" appeared earlier in 1965.  In the Vassar Miscellany
News, 3 Feb. 1965, there was an article entitled "Prof. Nelson Talk
Analyzes P.R.I.D.E."  This article includes the following passage:

He introduced the concept of the hyper-text, which would be a more
flexible, more generalized, non-linear presentation of material on a
particular subject.  The educational possibilities in the use of the
hyper-text are vast.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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