The Universe of Discourse

Sun, 07 Mar 2021

Henry G. Baker archive

(Summary: Henry Baker's web site has disappeared after 30 years. I kept an archive.)

Henry G. Baker is a computer programmer and computer scientist, one of the founders of the Symbolics company that made Lisp Machines.

I discovered Baker's writing probably in the early 1990s and immediately put him on my “read everything this person writes” list. I found everything he wrote clear and well-reasoned. I always learned something from reading it. He wrote on many topics, and when he wrote about a topic I hadn't been interested in, I became interested in it because he made it interesting.

Sometimes I thought Baker was mistaken about something. But usually it was I who was mistaken.

Baker had a web site with an archive of his articles and papers. It disappeared last year sometime. But I have a copy that I made around 1998, Just In Case.

Baker's web site is a good example of mid-1990s web design. Here's his “Gratuitous Waste of Bandwidth” page. It features a link to a 320×240 pixel color photo of Baker, and an inlined monochrome GIF version of it.

Browsers at the time could inline GIF files but not JPEGs, and it would have been rude to inline a color JPEG because that would have forced the user to wait while the browser downloaded the entire 39kb color image. It was a rather different time.

Some of my favorite articles of his were:

(The Internet Archive also has a more recent copy of the site.)

Addendum 20220108

I just rediscovered this note I wrote in 2006 but never published:

The bozo bit isn't really a bit; it works in the other direction too. Some people are so consistently thoughtful and insightful that I go looking for stuff they have said, and pay extra-close attention to it, particularly if I disagree with it, because that indicates a greater-than-average chance that I am mistaken about something.

Henry Baker is one of these people. I try to read everything Henry Baker writes, extra carefully, because in the past I've determined that he seems to be correct about almost everything. If M. Baker says something I think is probably wrong, that's a good sign that I should reconsider, because there's a decent chance that I'm the one that's wrong.

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