🏠 back to Observable

Melody Meckfessel talks OCTO github

A great talk / interview :smiley:


Thanks for posting the link to the videos @hellonearthis and thank you too for the GitHub link @Fil.

I was surprised very early in the video when the host (Idan, I believe) stated that he wasn’t sure what to label as the first “software notebook”. So I posted on the GitHub page that Stephen Wolfram claims to have invented the concept in 1988, together with a couple of links supporting the statement.

Folks who use Observable might also be interested to know that the Mathematica notebook introduced “reactivity” that’s very much like reactivity that we see in Observable. It’s not quite as integrated in the sense that you’ve got to tag an expression as Dynamic but, once you do, it reacts to changes in variables that affect it, in much the same way that we see in Observable.


In this context it is worth mentioning commercial spreadsheet programs like VisiCalc from the late 70s, which built on academic research from at least a decade earlier.

Other important antecedents include interpreters/shell (1950s–60s), various work from Project MAC (1960s), SmallTalk (1970s), literate programming (mid 80s), HyperCard (1987).