In her comment on one of my posts the other day, Sally plausibly assumed that my Pad zoomable interface was influenced by Blade Runner. In fact, Pad evolved from an obsession I had back in 1979 to create a portable device that would show zoomable maps, to be stored as successions of tiled images with progressively doubled resolution.
It wasn’t until 1989 that I finally got my hands on a computer fast enough to let me build a good real-time demo of the concept — my first implementation of the Pad zoomable interface. The paradigm of zooming through the use of powers-of-two tiles gradually spread, particularly after David Fox and I published a SIGGRAPH paper about it in 1993, and eventually became used for lots of things, such as Google Maps.
Of course there was nothing new about zooming, even back then. Kees Boeke’s book Cosmic View, published in 1957, had famously inspired two wonderful films by Ray and Charles Eames. My additions were the use of this paradigm for a general purpose computer/user interface, and the use of powers-of-two tile storage to make it all practical.
To my mind, the wondrous “Enhance 224 to 176…” scene from Blade Runner — one of my favorite scenes from any movie — which superficially seems to suggest a Pad-like paradigm, is actually evocative of something vastly (and excitingly) different. More on that tomorrow.