in 1983, [Steve Roberts] packed up a Tandy 100 laptop and a 5-watt solar panel, fleeing suburbia on his recumbent bicycle on what would become a 17,000 mile journey that forever cemented his place in the geek pantheon…not just as a technology hacker, but as one of the preeminent “life hackers,” pursuing his own dreams on his own terms and inspiring others to do the same.
In this 1989 video, recently unearthed by Hack a Day, [Roberts] reflects on the first 16,000 miles of his voyage, detailing some of the technology that went into his then-current ride, the Winnebiko II.
Next time you’re comfortably working from the local park with your laptop tethered to a 3G connection, raise your latte in toast to [Roberts], who was pioneering the “mobile professional lifestyle” more than two decades ago. There was no Google Maps, no mainstream consumer internet, no 3G wireless. It was all packet radio and acoustic couplers on pay phones. Where he casually speaks of “living in the computer networks,” he’s referring to CompuServe, GEnie and UUCPNET. And next time you’re trapped at a green light while the driver ahead of you is distracted by text messaging, you can curse thank [Steve] for that, too…with his handgrip-integrated keyboard, he may well have invented texting while driving.
[Roberts] is still blazing trails…tinkering, writing, and living the “technomad” lifestyle, now by sea instead of land. You can follow along with his adventures on two web sites: microship.com is now primarily a retrospective of the past quarter century…the Winnebiko/BEHEMOTH bike projects and subsequent Microship trimaran, along with archives of his writings. nomadness.com looks ahead to “open-ended global voyaging” on his new vessel, the Nomadness. The site contains articles and reviews, photos, and his blog with current status updates. There’s also the Nomadic Research Labs Store, where you’ll find [Roberts’] own books, project surplus, and boating and electronic parts.