In December of 1995, the authors found themselves wanting a development environment in which to build educational software that could be usedand even programmedby non-technical people, and by children. We wanted our software to be effective in mass-access media such as PDAs and the Internet, where download times and power considerations make compactness essential, and where hardware is diverse, and operating systems may change or be completely absent. Therefore our ideal system would be a small, portable kernel of simple and uniform design that could be adapted rapidly to new delivery vehicles. We considered using Java but, despite its promise, Java was not yet mature: its libraries were in a state of flux, few commercial implementations were available, and those that were available lacked the hooks required to create the kind of dynamic change that we envisioned.
While Smalltalk met the technical desiderata, none of the available implementations gave us the kind of control we wanted over graphics, sound, and the Smalltalk engine itself, nor the freedom to port and distribute the resulting work, including its host environment, freely over the Internet. Moreover, we felt that we were not alone, that many others in the research community shared our desire for an open, portable, malleable, and yet practical object-oriented programming environment. It became clear that the best way to get what we all wanted was to build a new Smalltalk with these goals and to share it with this wider community.