I started using MaxThink on a Kaypro CPM machine. (That makes me the oldest.) I was still using the DOS version daily until about 2 years ago. (That makes me the most insanely dedicated.) I would still be using it, but I started working in offices that forbid me to install programs. Many days it would be the only program I would use, other than email and browser. I could always write much faster and much better with it, and there is nothing else like it. It became very inconvenient not to be able to paste and run web links. The first Windows version was unusable, and the current upgrade is much better and is usable, but because some crucial human factors could not be reproduced in Windows, I cannot make it an extension of my mind, with 'automoticity'. MaxThink was a seamless extension of the QWERTY keyboard for me, with every letter or command using the same keys, all with instant and predictable response. That is a proper role for a tool, offering huge advantages. The same point was often made about WordStar. If you mastered it, it vastly outperformed other word processors. (But it was still a word processor.) Nobody paid attention, and we are loaded down with junky programs and no options.
Now, MaxThink truly did help me think and write. I am writing a book right now and I am very unhappy I don't have it because I am wasting a lot of time scanning over things I don't need to look at and also not getting new materials jammed in the right places and stitched in. This is really primitive. Of course, others may think differently and not benefit as much as I do. Ideas tend to occur to me out of order. I know where they go and want to get there. When I am reminded of what I have, something else occurs that extends and completes the set. It all piles up at a great rate. Other people, I believe, don't think this way. They go one time through and are close to finished, with just editing left. My first version isn't terrible, but I'll often skip things so that I can keep going to get the full sweep of the argument done. It all comes in a rush.
These thoughts about thinking are important, and Neil Larson is the only software designer who ever seemed to care. I learned a great deal from him. I also checked out all his other stuff and made myself apply it, to see where it went. I actually set up, pre-Windows and pre-Internet, what you would instantly recognize today as a Wiki. I had people post collaborative notes about marketing leads. At the time the process was really shocking, and not at all delightful to people who didn't have any habits of sharing and collaboration, and huge fear of showing their ignorance and lack of basic computer, typing, and writing skills. Things really have changed, at least for some.
It was sometimes difficult to have a conversation with Neil Larson, but once you understood what he was doing, you could get synchronized. Many techies are difficult to talk to, but this was special. He essentially spoke hypertext. He would always speak a paragraph at a time, very meaningful and complete. But then he would speak another paragraph that had absolutely no connection to what you thought you were talking about. Conversation has linear expectations, but his mind was multi-threaded, and he was essentially sustaining several conversations at the same time, and they all insected. As long as you were paying attention and had a good memory and ability to see relationships quickly (which not everybody can do) it didn't matter what order thoughts were presented.
The reason I stumbled across this board is that I was looking for comments on Larson's Houdini program. It turns out that there is nothing like that either. Houdini was a truly mind-bending program, but nobody seemed to have found a good use for it. I couldn't, at the time, but times are changing. People in my company who work in intelligence have some special needs and special cognitive abilities to comprehend linkage networks.