The Future of Magic Cap

Question: Whatever became of Magic Cap? Will it ever be released into the public domain? Is OpenMagic happening behind closed doors somewhere?

Answer: Unfortunately, no. Here's the story according to Steve Schramm, former General Manager of the Magic Cap division and CEO/President of DataRover/Icras:

Andy [Hertzfeld] strived to open Magic Cap at the time of the GMGC bankruptcy. If I remember Andy's explanation correctly, Nathan Myrvold, formerly of Microsoft, used the bankruptcy process to capture the IP after Andy Hertzfeld working with Andy Rubin had won two previous decisions to get the Magic Cap IP. Nathan mostly wanted the Telescript agent patents for his dead startup patent collection, though.

Afterwards, Andy H. continued to work with Nathan to pry the Magic Cap IP loose, since Nathan allegedly didn't care that much. But Nathan kept putting more and more restrictions on Magic Cap's use to the point that few would have been able to use the Magic Cap technology for anything practical or interesting even if it was open source. So Andy finally stopped trying.

The bottom line is that even though no one is using Magic Cap, we can't make it available as open source. And thus, and incredible amount of creativity, investment and hard work is effectively lost to the world (except for what people remember in their heads).

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I rather appreciate this FAQ entry as I've often wondered where the Magic Cap IP ended up. Quite depressing, given the scarcity of Magic Cap devices, that few will know of Magic Cap and even fewer get to experience using it. I guess there's always Magic Cap for Windows, but distributing that would probably be frowned upon (although it can be found if people know where to look.)


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