The war had just ended. I was in the Navy and was shipped to a little island in the Philippines. I was put in a camp that they called the “Receiving Ship,” even though it was on land. During that time, I found a funny little Red Cross library, in a Filipino hut. It was up on stilts. There was nobody there, just all these books and magazines. I spent a lot of time in that hut. I found that Atlantic magazine article, As We May Think, by Vannevar Bush. I can remember being very intrigued by that article. But my goal didn’t surface until quite a bit later, after I’d already made the commitment to augment humans. Then, suddenly I realized how the concepts in that article fit in with the things I was going to do with computers.
I read a lot—fiction and some biographies. I was interested in how things worked and why things happen. I read an interesting book of William James’ writings when I was overseas, just after the war. He wrote that humans actually employ only a small proportion of their mental capability. That stuck with me. There was a book that was a layperson’s approach to making the most of your life. I was at a stage where I read and reread books and articles that said, “If you want to go someplace, take the first step.” I remember putting that idea to work quite often saying, “Well, what would be the next thing one would do if one wanted to get across the canyon? Well, all right, step off the edge.”