The Voyager CDROM book version of The Society of Mind

In 1994 the Voyager Company produced a CDROM version of The Society of Mind, with some additional illustrations and some of my other publications. But when another company acquired Voyager, many of its products were discontinued. However, I can send an autographed copy of this CDROM if you send me US$10 and a self-addressed, stamped return envelope large enough to hold a padded CD disk, that is, about 5" x 6" x 1/2"). Address: 111 Ivy Street, Brookline, MA 02446-4004.

I especially want to thank Ann Marion and Moe Shore for producing this disk, Colin Holgate for developing the software support, and Robert Stein for pioneering the digital publications, first of high quality videodisks, and later of digital books. It was Bob Stein's vision to include not only texts and illustrations but also movies and supplementary writings and references. Here is the entry from Voyager's catalog.

A CD-ROM as original as its author. Minsky's theories come to life as the visionary thinker walks, talks, and jumps across the page. Demonstrating how we recognize everyday objects, Minsky hoists an apple as big as a Volkswagen. A whimsical tour of his living room gives an intimate view of the inventor's sensibility and achievements. Dozens of other explorations invite us into a dialogue with Minsky's ideas and the wit, charm, and soaring intelligence that inform them. Each essay in The Society of Mind is a piece of a puzzle, and their sum is a unified and ingenious theory of how the mind works. Features more than one hundred minutes of original QuickTime video, the full text of The Society of Mind, plus a selection of Minsky's best articles, an. interactive tour of Minsky's living room and a video timeline. $39.95 Macintosh/Windows CD-ROM

Robert Stein insisted on making the text as much like a book as possible. In particular, he refused to compromise on the quality of typography. The pages are small because the format was fixed to fit on 640 x 480 screens. (Each chapter of The Society of Mind fits on one page in the printed edition--but usually requires three of these small screens.)

This testimonial about Voyager's projects was written by another Voyager author, Ashton Applewhite:

Fueled by an early vision of the potential of new media, Bob paired authors and artists with a superb production staff, making Voyager a magnet and a home for thoughtful, entertaining and creative people. Many noteworthy projects-the Criterion Collection, the CD Companions, the First Person Series, With Open Eyes, Starry Night-were Bob's ideas, and many others were brought into being through his intensive collaboration with the authors, titles such as Who Built America, I Photograph to Remember, Macbeth, and children's programs like Silly Noisy House, and Making Music.

The company has produced an extraordinary range of important work, maintaining the highest intellectual, artistic, and technical standards. Voyager has always fostered the exchange of important ideas, requiring that all of us-creators, readers, programmers, designers, producers-live up to the company motto, Bring Your Brain. This consistent commitment to quality is rare in most publishing houses and unique in the software industry, where products are anonymous and creative minds given far less incentive to participate in the invention of multimedia. The only digital publisher to encourage and celebrate the role of the author, Voyager has sponsored new talent, published important bodies of work, and given all of us a place in which to be our smartest and our most inventive.

We understand that it's not easy for serious publishers to succeed in this field, but it is disappointing to see such a dramatic retreat from the vanguard of an industry still in its infancy. The elements of respect for authors, product quality, and intellectual standards make Voyager an irreplaceable cornerstone in this industry, and they are directly attributable to the vision and leadership of Bob Stein. Because we wish to continue working in what we believe is an important medium, and because we have long benefited from Bob's sensibility and commitment to our work, we have come together to sign this testimonial and vote of confidence. We support whatever corporate restructuring enables him to continue publishing our work under the Voyager name.


Insert the disk into the CD carrier of the computer. Double-click on the Society of Mind disk icon, which appears automatically on a MAC computer.  (If you are using Windows, you may have to type “d:\setup” into RUN on the START menu—where d: is your CD-ROM drive.)  When the disk folder opens, then open the Society of Mind sub-folder, and finally click on the Society of Mind icon inside it.  This will run the programs and data from the CDROM—which can be a little slow on older computers.   (For faster operation, you can copy the programs to your hard drive, as described in the Detailed Instructions below.)

The CD-ROM should begin with an image of a piece of art from the series "Machine Dreams" by Charlotte Minsky Porson, accompanied by a snippet of music composed and played by me. After a few seconds, the Copyright page appears. From the Copyright page, you can enter the rest of the material either by pressing the keyboard's right arrow key, which will deposit you at the Contents Overview page; or by clicking on the bookmark icon at bottom right, which will deposit you at the last page used. To proceed from the Contents page, click on a chapter heading and then click on a subheading.


The CD-ROM can be navigated in several ways:
By selecting items directly from the Contents page.
By using the
Tool Palette (see below for details). If you don't see the palette, press [apple-T].
By pressing the right or left arrow key.
By clicking on the
Building Block (see below for details).
By clicking on the red dots at the top right corner of the screen. These dots measure your progress through a section.

Several useful features may be selected from the Books drop-down menu at the top of the screen. (NOTE: If the drop-down menu bar is not visible, move the pointer to the top of the screen and it will appear.) Selecting The Society of Mind takes you back to the introductory screen. Annotations makes annotations and glossary links visible; words underlined with gray may be clicked to activate these links. Notebook calls up a notebook to be used for taking notes.

Help features are available. On the Macintosh, select Help from the Books menu on the Menu Bar, or type X? on the keyboard. In Windows, select Help from the Books menu on the Menu Bar, or press Ctrl+H on the keyboard.

Summary of Tool Palette Items:

Page: the Page button at the top of the tool panel allows you to "turn" pages either forward or backward by clicking on the arrows either left or right. To get to a distant page immediately, click on the Page button, which will open a window allowing you to select the number of a new page or section.

Chapter: the Chapter button allows you to skip forward or backward by larger increments. To move several pages at a time, click on the arrows either left or right. To see an overview of all the chapters, click and hold on Chapter; move to the chapter of your choice and release the mouse to go to that chapter directly. When a chapter title is highlighted, a second drop-down box appears, giving you the option of moving directly to any section within the chapter. Chapter is the most helpful compass for navigating through The Society of Mind. It is the only way to summon an overview of the material from any location.

Find: the Find button allows you to search the entire CD-ROM for specific words. The easiest way to enter a search term is actually to select Find directly from the Books menu, rather than from the Tool Palette. Clicking on the Find button on the palette will also give you a window for performing searches. Clicking and holding the Find button on the palette will give you a list of any "Finds" (i.e. search results) that have already been saved. (NOTE: You can find other occurrences of any word in the text by holding the mouse down on that word.)

Mark: the Mark button allows you to bookmark pages. To mark a page, click on Mark. You can return to these pages by clicking and holding the mouse on the Mark button or by clicking on the corresponding arrow keys. Choose the item "Mark this page with a message" to add a message that will appear in the pop-up list. Click on the folded corner of the marked page to remove the mark.

Retrace: the Retrace button allows you to review your preceding steps and return to any spot you've visited in the CD-ROM by direct link. To review or to retrace your steps, click and hold on Retrace, which unfolds a list of your steps.

P and U: These buttons allow you to underline and remove the underlines from text. To underline text, select it with the cursor and block it out, just as you would with a word processor. Then click on U<>. To remove the underline, select the text and click on P (for plain).

The Building Block icon appears to the left of the screen. Clicking and holding on each of the block's three exposed faces accesses special features of the CD-ROM.

The Audio and Video Menu (AV) shows Quicktime movie clips associated with the current chapter or section. If the letters "AV" are red, the video can be played as a footnote to the text on the page. If the letters are blue, they are relevant to the chapter but not to that page. If the letters are gray, no video is available for that section. NOTE: to manipulate the video, click and hold the mouse on the moving image.

The Ideas Index Menu (I) offers a list of other places in the text whose themes relate to those of the current section.

The Extras Menu (X) accesses a collection of articles and interactive Minsky memorabilia, including a personal tour of Marvin's living room. Hold the mouse down on the arms below the view of his room to turn your "head" a full 360 degrees, and click around the room slowly with the mouse for hotspots. To exit Marvin's room, use the toolbox or the arrow key.

In this section, you will also find articles written by Minsky and a timeline of his life (click on the red timeline dots to see videos.)


Any color-capable Mac OS computer with a 68030 (25Mhz) or higher processor.
At least 8 Mbytes of installed RAM (5,OOOK free)
A 13-inch (640X480) or larger color monitor, set to 256 colors
A double-speed CD-ROM drive

SETTING UP - MAC OS:  If you double-click on the Minsky Installer icon, you can automatically install the Society of Mind program and the necessary extensions onto your computer.  I don’t recommend this, because it might install some very old versions of Quicktime and Sound Manager, and your MAC almost surely has newer ones.  So (unless you don’t already have those extensions) , just drag the Society of Mind folder from the CD to your hard drive, open the folder, and double-click the Society of Mind icon in that folder on your hard drive.  (For more information refer to "About Minsky" in the Documentation folder on the CD.)


• 8 Mbytes of installed RAM (minimum)
• 640x480, 256-color display
• MPC2-compatible CD-ROM drive
• MPC2-compatible sound card with speakers or headphones
• Microsoft Windows version 3.1, 3.11, or Windows 95
• MS-DOS operating system version 5.0 or later
• MS-DOS CD-ROM Extensions (MSCDEX) version 2.2 or later

Installing the Software from the Windows 95 Desktop

1. Insert the CD into your CD-ROM drive according to the drive manufacturer's instructions.
2. Choose Run from the Start menu.
3. Type d:\setup, where d: is your CD-ROM drive.
4. Click OK.
5. Follow directions in the Setup dialog boxes to complete the installation.

Make sure the Society of Mind CD is in your CD-ROM drive. To launch Society of Mind, double-click the Society of Mind icon in the VOYAGER-96 program group. For more information on how to set up and use this title, open the "Society of Mind ReadMe" icon in the VOYAGER-96 program group.

On the Macintosh, select Quit HyperCard from the File menu on the Menu Bar, or type X-Q on your keyboard. In Windows, select Exit Society of Mind from the File menu on the Menu Bar, or press Ctrl+Q on the keyboard.