Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Steve Mann, Cyborg

I may have an unusual affinity for hardware, but Steve Mann is in a class of his own. He lives the hardware. Steve Mann may be the world's original cyborg.

Steve Mann, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, has lived as a cyborg for more than 20 years, wearing a web of wires, computers and electronic sensors that are designed to augment his memory, enhance his vision and keep tabs on his vital signs.

Mr. Mann has been exploring the frontiers of wearable computers since 1980.

Steve Mann, wearable computers from 1980-1998

Steve is evidently at version 7 of his wearable computer. I'm surprised he hasn't updated the rig since 1999.

There was a flurry of interest in his work in 2001, which coincided with a book and a movie made about Steve. There's a companion article on LinuxDevices describing how to build a similar rig from 2001, but it feels ancient by today's standards.

It's hard to tell what's currently happening in the field of wearable computing. Steve's personal web page is a shambles; nothing is dated. The MIT wearable computing page hasn't been updated since 2005, and the Wearable Computing home appears to be in a state of limbo. At least Andy's wearable computing resource looks like it's being updated on a regular basis.

Somehow, I thought the cyborgs would have a more compelling web presence.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Exchange and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: