I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I had no clue there was this much data available on these.
The system & component level schematics seem pretty complete on a cursory glance, moderately detailed mechanical component drawings, and even a partial BOM for some of the power supply components. Seems like it would make troubleshooting and repair a breeze on these, if you could dig one up. (or put a reasonable clone together from scratch, even, given enough motivation.)
An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
The Canon Cat was a computer designed by Jef Raskin, one of the principle minds behind the original Macintosh and author of the seminal book “The Humane Interface”. It provides an extremely consistent document-oriented interface and a powerful concept for navigating through both individual documents and document collections called “LEAPING” that is based on Raskin’s “quasimode” concept.
I think a lot about the Cat and even more “conventional” document based systems. I wonder if they’re a dead evolution because we don’t really work with documents traditionally on a computer/the document focus didn’t do any favours to ISVs selling applications, or if we are heading back towards it in a different manner because of the web.
In a way we’re moving back to the “document” oriented paradigm but with “apps” - apparently people don’t work with files directly all that much anymore. Everything is done through an app-specific lens.
Proud owner of one. It still works great. The secret Forth mode makes it almost useful. 8-)
If you bought it by outbidding someone on eBay around 2017, just know that…shakes fist
Ha! No, this was a private collector-collector sale about 15 years ago. It’s good to have a reputation as someone who takes care of their machines.
I have long wondered if it would be possible to implement a Canon Cat style editing model on/in/under Emacs.
Emacs fans are always proclaiming its great versatility: it doesn’t just edit text, it does email, usenet, web pages, it’s programmable, etc.
The Cat had a pre-GUI single-document interface, where by means of a sophisticated text editor, you could edit text, build and evaluate tables of figures, email snippets to people and receive them, etc.
These seem like well-matched sets of functions to me.
You might want to look at Archy, which was a Python implementation of a lot of the ideas from The Humane Interface, which in turn codified a lot of the ideas used in the Cat. Archy could be extended via Python to do lots of stuff. It used PyGame (IIRC) for graphics and keyboard handling.
I implemented the LEAP navigation mechanism once as an experiment using GTK+. It worked fine but it definitely would benefit from a Cat-style keyboard with the LEAP keys below the spacebar (my implementation used the two keys on either side of space a la the Apple keys for the SwyftCard).
After experimenting with it I definitely see the appeal but my thumbs hurt; here’s where I think a Cat keyboard would work better. Maybe pedals? :)
The biggest problem aside from the thumb pain was that it required a keyboard grab and thus didn’t play nicely with most desktop environments or input methods (for example, any hyper-prefixed operations in the desktop environment wouldn’t work from inside the editor).
That’s fair enough, and I did forget about that.
It’s long-unmaintained though. :-(
As you say, it’s a model that doesn’t play very nicely with modern multi-app multi-window UIs. Which is why I thought it might fit quite well with Emacs, which is probably the modern world’s best one-app-that-does-everything.