Sad news today for the forty-fourth anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who, with the news that Verity Lambert, the first producer of the series, has passed away aged 71. When she got the job back in 1963 she was the youngest, and only female producer at the BBC. Known for standing up to her superiors, and one of the people most often credited with the early success of the programme, probably the best example is when she introduced the Daleks, despite being specifically advised not to by Donald Wilson, head of serials. One of the great unanswered questions – would Doctor Who still be so well known forty-four years later had she done what she was told?
There are a couple of significant computing anniversaries this year. Firstly, it is twenty years since version 1.0 of Powerpoint was released – initially only for the Apple Mac, the PC version came along a few years later once Microsoft bought out the original company. Presentation Zen not surprisingly has an article on the anniversary linking off to a Wall Street Journal interview with the original developers who ponder what their creation has become and the effects it has had on business. This quote from Robert Gaskins is particularly telling:
“A lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don’t like the intellectual rigour of actually doing the work.”
The other anniversary is that this week marks ten years since the Psion 5 was launched. The Register have done a great article telling the story of Psion and the people involved from the birth of the Psion 5 until the present day. What is amazing is how many ex-Psion staff have gone on to be part of market leading companies working on gadgets that Psion weren’t able to produce themselves. There is also a good deal of discussion as to the reasons that Psion ultimately withdrew from market, which in part seems to be blamed on existing customers who stuck with their Psion 3’s. Interestingly although Psion may be gone from the the PDA market, it is interesting to note that their belief in their operating system, Symbian was well founded. It does sort of leave you wondering how things might have been different if Psion had the finances to produce all the gadgets they had ideas for.
September 8th marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the original Star Trek. Whilst we’re enjoying the re-runs of the digitally re-mastered episodes on the Sci-Fi channel, following the demise of Enterprise, and with a new movie not due until 2008, there will be no grand celebration story this time around. Or so you would think.
The fact is that although Paramount may not be doing anything, a number of the actors certainly are. The project in question is called Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, and includes actors spanning the full range of the series, including Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig from the original series through to Garret Wang and Tim Russ from Voyager. Tim Russ also directs.
As to how it is being pulled together, it is thanks to one of a number of fan based teams who are putting together their own episodes. The team in question is those behind Star Trek: New Voyages. Unlike most of the other fan productions I have come across who base their adventures in the Star Trek universe, but with new characters, New Voyages is intended to be a continuation of the original series, but with new actors in the well known roles. Whilst some may question the wisdom of having other actors play Kirk, Spock and McCoy when they are so closely associated with other actors, this is precisely what is rumoured to be happening in the upcoming Star Trek XI.
So far there are two full episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages, which whilst pretty entertaining, and visually looking pretty much like the original series, do suffer a bit from being obvious fan pleasing plots with a multitude of references to different episodes that you need an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the series and books to spot. Indeed at one point there are multiple USS Enterprise’s turning up from different time zones. Having said that, things are slightly different for the third episode where thanks to the involvement of D.C. Fontana, responsible for numerous episodes over the years, and Walter Koenig reprising his role as Chekov there might not be quite so much referencing of old episodes of the series. The majority of the actors are fans, so if you’re looking for top class acting, this isn’t the place. However, what is impressive is the CGI. The credit for the person responsible is actually an alias, as the person responsible is actually in the business, and worked on the proper series themselves, indeed he was very nearly sacked when the company found out what he was working on in his spare time!
The trailer for Star Trek: Of Gods and Men is due out in time for the anniversary, as is the third episode of Star Trek: New Voyages. You can watch the existing episodes, plus trailers for the latest instalment over at the New Voyages site. This Wired article gives a lot more background to the project and how it started.