Well, this discussion was more about the license model than Tinderbox itself.
The origin is partly that I needed a tool that didn’t exist, but not primarily that.
In the early 90s, a delegation from Harvard’s department of Anthropology/Sociology came to call. They were using Storyspace for field research in rural Northern China, and they had a bunch of feature requests. One was, simply, to be less coy than Storyspace used to be about computation: social scientists in the '80s and '90s embraced math in a way that English and Comp. Lit. professors did not.
Another was, simply, that the name “Storyspace” was always queried on their purchase orders: what did stories have to do with research. (A decade later, it would have been obvious, but that was no help at the time.)
The analytic mission of Storspace had always been in tension with the narrative mission. I saw an opportunity to split them. (I didn’t foresee the bitter reaction against postmodernism, in which Storyspace would be caught up. That was blindness, but then again, it’s nice we had Tinderbox at hand to weather the storm.)
The key thing I wanted was inheritance, and James Noble’s book provided the key to doing it in a way that wouldn’t require a computer science degree.
Noble, J., Taivalsaari, A., & Moore, I. (1999). Prototype-Based Programming: Concepts, Languages and Applications. Springer-Verlag Singapore Pte Ltd.
I have no idea at all how this book came to my attention. I wish I knew. My intuition at the time was wrong: almost every Tinderbox user habitually creates class objects (prototype notes) and instances. But because they’re all just notes, a lot of the mysticism around objects was dissipated and that let the good stuff shine.