Part of the IT standards and organizations glossary:

Xanadu (TM) is a set of ideas and a software design project for a universal system of electronic information storage and access. Its inventor, Ted Nelson, is credited with inventing the term hypertext , an idea that is a central part of Xanadu. In his book of 1987, Literary Machines , Nelson envisioned a distributed document system that in some ways anticipated the World Wide Web .

Conceived in the early 1980's or perhaps slightly earlier, Xanadu encompassed a system for distributed and collective authoring, the ability to retain all previous levels of a document, and a number of specific hypertextual ideas including the link type and the backlink . Nelson described Xanadu as "an instantaneous electronic literature" and "perhaps the ultimate" hypertext system. Although Xanadu has failed to materialize for actual use, Nelson's concepts have stimulated the thinking of a number of information architects and system designers.

Nelson derived the system's name from the fabled palace in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem, "Kubla Khan."

This was last updated in July 2007
Contributor(s): Jack Swalwell
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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