Father Busa, the Jesuit priest who invented the hypertext
The computer was born as a machine for making calculations. Immediately after the last World War, this enterprising Jesuit started working on a colossal job which involved analyzing the St. Thomas’ “opera omnia”, consisting of about nine million words. He had painstakingly drawn, by hand, ten thousand boards, all dedicated to the inventory of the preposition “in”, which he considered essential from a philosophical point of view. Father Busa had a bone to pick: he wanted to connect together expressions, phrases and quotes and compare them with other available sources. This is why in 1949 he knocked on the door of Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM, who received him in his New York studio, listened to him, and finally said: "It is impossible for the machines to do what you are suggesting. You are claiming to be more American than us." The Jesuit did not give up and slid a punched card bearing the multinational company’s motto, coined by Watson himself, under the nose of IBM’s boss: "The difficult, we do it immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.” Busa gave the card back to the founder of IBM without hiding his disappointment. Watson felt provoked, and changed his mind: "All right, Father, we will try. But on one condition: you must promise that you will not change IBM’s acronym for International Business Machines, into International Busa machines."
Stefano Lorenzetto, inspired by the encounter between these two creative minds, and having interviewed Busa less than a year ago, wrote an article published by L'Osservatore Romano yesterday afternoon, explaining how "hypertext was born, that set of structured information joined together by dynamic links that can be found on a computer at the click of the mouse." The word hypertext was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965, to design a software to store the routes taken by a reader. But, as has been documented by Antonio Zoppetti, a language and computer expert: “the man who really worked on hypertext, and was at least fifteen years ahead of Nelson, was Father Busa.”
OK, so it might be a stretch to say Fr Busa "invented" hypertext but just imagine all the labor cataloging all the uses of the word "in" in the Opera Omnia! He certainly came up with the concept.
Yeah, we all know the Catholic Church just hates science and technology!