April 20th, 2002

default, pepper

Scooter this, buddy.

Back when the Segway HT--a/k/a "Ginger" and "IT," the two-wheeled scooterish thing--was first revealed, I found myself defending it against a lot of people making incessant, often ill-informed jokes and derisive comments. It reached a point of high irritation, I think, because so many of my friends and acquaintances are sf/fantasy fans who often tend to be more starry-eyed than I, yet when something real came along, by and large they weren't willing to even give it the benefit of the doubt.

Well, poking around a bit just now led me to two articles about the Segway from Dan Bricklin. The opening paragraph of the first article, written before Bricklin had gotten to use a Segway hands on, begins:

Make sure you understand disruptive technologies. Their first incarnations often seem like toys compared to existing technologies. The Segway embodies lots of disruptive technologies. I'm pretty familiar with a previous one: The combination of electronic spreadsheet and the personal computer. The combination was first viewed as a toy compared to "real" computers and financial forecasting tools. It only sold about 10,000 copies in the first 10 months and was barely mentioned in the business press for a couple of years.

Bricklin is understating things a bit when he says he's pretty familiar with spreadsheets--he wrote VisiCalc. If you're interested in the Segway, whether as fan, skeptic or just someone who likes to think about the future, read both of Dan's articles.