BEHEMOTH*

*  Big Electronic Human Energized Machine, Only Too Heavy

I was wandering around the yard with the dogs this morning, messing around with my phone: taking some pix, catching a Pokémon or 2, texting my dóttir, when I had a sudden contrast-and-compare flashback. I’m taking a few devices with me on the big bike ride, primarily for convenience’s sake, but if I wanted to go minimal, I could manage with one gadget – that selfsame phone. It’s got 2 ways to connect to the internet, GPS, 2 cameras that will do stills and video, a bucket of storage, etc., etc. The flash I had in the yard took me back to a bike project from Olden Tymes: Steven K. Roberts’ Winnebiko, Winnebiko II and BEHEMOTH. All three were (successful) attempts to stay connected while pedaling around in the 1980s. My guess is that I first encountered Mr. Roberts’ project in the pages of Whole Earth Review, a publication that bridged what I’ve come to think of as the paper hippie internet, The Whole Earth Catalog, and the the real capital I Internet. The ’80’s were full of transitional critters – the WER in print and Compuserve. GEnie, AOL, and bulletin board systems in the on-line world (for those of us – the vast majority – who did not have access to the Internet). Steven’s technomadic hallucigenia bikes fit perfectly into the Cambrian-explosion 1980’s networking stew.

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Unsurprisingly, the connected bike idea was catnip to yours truly and I kept an eye on the projects as best I could. It really was a different world – doing a search and pulling up all the info I would need for a post like this, let alone the ability to blog as I’m doing now, were years down the pike.

So we come to BEHEMOTH. a second system effect instantiated in a 3rd system.  Five hundred and eighty pounds, three laptops, a heads-up display and handlebar mounted keypad. I suddenly feel a lot better about the size and weight of Molly Fin plus Lotte, fishing rods, cameras, kite, and other toys.

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It’s now on display at the Computer History Museum.

As far as I can tell, BEHEMOTH didn’t cover a ton of miles – just too big and heavy. Then the Internet and cell phone things happened and I can hold all that capability and more in the palm of my hand. For now, anyway *wry grin*.

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