James Fallows Review – New York Times

James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic, wrote the following about BrainStorm in the TECHNO FILES article, What Do TiVo and the Mac Mini Have in Common? Mr. Fallows has written and blogged about BrainStorm many times since this October 2005 article, noting that he uses BrainStorm on his MAC.

Worth highlighting in his first review…

Its display is text only, with no graphic grace notes, and the only thing it does is manage lists – of ideas, tasks, references, names. Behind this simplicity is surprising power, or so I have found since buying it on a friend’s recommendation several months ago. The program makes it very quick and easy to add, subtract, rearrange, or reconsider information you are working with.

“Next is a truly obscure underdog: software called BrainStorm, created and sold by two independent programmers in England. Its kind of elegance, quite distinct from the style and polish of the Mac or TiVo, is the stripped-down functional beauty of an excellent sharpened knife.

BrainStorm is a return to the early days of personal computing, in its resemblance to outstanding DOS-era programs like XyWrite and GrandView. Its display is text only, with no graphic grace notes, and the only thing it does is manage lists – of ideas, tasks, references, names. Behind this simplicity is surprising power, or so I have found since buying it on a friend’s recommendation several months ago. The program makes it very quick and easy to add, subtract, rearrange, or reconsider information you are working with.

BrainStorm is not for everyone. Fortunately, it offers a 30-day free trial.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams & BrainStorm

Douglas Adams, writer, dramatist, musician and author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, faxed this letter to David Tebbutt, BrainStorm creator and founder.

One Douglas Adams remark about BrainStorm worth noting…

“I’m beginning to boggle at the scope of your programme. It’s quite extraordinary – and addictive.”

…and making us wonder, were it available in the 70’s, would he have written The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in BrainStorm?

Early 1980s

Douglas Adams, writer, dramatist, musician and author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, faxed this letter to David Tebbutt, BrainStorm creator and founder.

Douglas Adams remarks about BrainStorm…

I’m beginning to boggle at the scope of your programme. It’s quite extraordinary – and addictive.

…and making us wonder, if BrainStorm were available in the 70’s, would he have written The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in BrainStorm?

To see the letter, go here Douglas Adams Fax to BrainStorm or read it in full below.

“Here, as promised, is Brainstorm properly configured to use the Rainbow line-drawing graphics. If you SUBMIT BRAIN you will load the function key processor which works with it. You will probably find the key assignments I’ve made seem strange to you. I’m still experimenting, and trying to make the controls correspond as closely as I can to my word processing function keys. Changing key assignments is very easy and self explanatory. Simply type FK from the system prompt to get into the function key programme and make changes. Each key will take up to 128 characters. Come to think of it, the programme’s documentation on disk so I’ll add that on.

I’ve also included some information from the Rainbow technical manual and from a recent article which enable you to speed up the VDU display. It’s pretty slow at the moment.

I’m beginning to boggle at the scope of your programme. It’s quite extraordinary – and addictive.

One or two questions.

What’s BRUN.COM for? It gets mentioned in passing in the manual but never explained.

Is there any way of deleting all occurrences of a namesake? I’m sure there must be and I just haven’t found it yet.

Loading and saving are rather tedious chores at the moment. Three useful facilities to incorporate would be:

1) The ability to reset the default drive during INSALLB.

2) The ability to invoke the appropriate .BRN file at the same time you load the programme. For example:            >brain diary.brn

3) A quick save capability. So that everytime you go and get a cup of coffee you can hit a couple of keys and update your disk whilst you’re away. That way, REBRAIN becomes less necessary – prevention is better than cure.

Will the 16-bit version allow you to use all your computer’s available memory? And run other programmes outside BRAINSTORM? That way you would have just one huge personal database which you would simply stay in all day whatever work you were doing. The possibilities are endless.

Anyway, congratulations on a brilliant idea. Hope it makes you a rich man.

Best wishes,

Douglas Adams”