Building a Memex by Andrew Louis

A diagram of the 1945 Memex

In 1945, the Memex was proposed as the ultimate personal library for a user’s books, correspondence, and records. In addition to just storing this data, users could navigate, organize, link, and share it with others. The Memex was even going to come with various input peripherals.

Unfortunately, zero were ever built but the Memex had a direct influence on the first interactive computers and the development of hypertext and the internet. In an age when computers were room-sized analog devices for simulating missile trajectories or calculating payroll, this idea expanded the idea of what computers should be able to do.

Though computers are more powerful and ubiquitous than ever, our digital histories are often inaccessible, fragmented, or locked behind corporate walled gardens. As a long time journaller, notetaker, and digital packrat, the idea of the Memex resonated with me. Inspired by this seventy-year-old vision, I’m now attempting to build an app for making my personal history accessible for search and introspection.

Here’s a recent talk:

What’s built so far:

What’s being worked on now:

If you’re interested in learning more, being part of the private beta, or subscribing to the development newsletter, email me or submit your email address:

Newsletter archives

Crystals, ESP, and Mind Control
Using my Memex to chat with my past
The Hunt For The Missing Memex Reference
Bad remembrance machines
Three Origin Stories About The Internet
The implicit lie of the blank page
Imagining the Memex
A European interlude
Five centuries of logging
A 45-ton personal archive
Leaves on the family tree
The Memex heads to StrangeLoop
Fractals of memories
A week of beta testing
Modelling my brain in the Memex
Getting the Memex ready for beta
Pass by reference; pass by copy
Fifteen years of conversations
Being on nodding terms with the past
The dangers of Memex'ing
Maps! Maps! Maps!
The Memex vs Quantified Self
The Memex becomes weather-ready
A Memex for dreams
Improving the onboarding experience
The Memex becomes installable
Javascript tries to keep the Memex down
The Memex learns to read
Putting the Memex into a container
The Memex does New York
Prince, force diagrams, and New York
Climbing up and down stairs