To Honor Doug Engelbart, Who Passed Away Last Night, Please Go Watch His 1968 Demo

from the innovation-at-work dept

On the the 40th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s famous 1968 demo of a personal computer system, we urged everyone to find some time to watch the video of his demo. Now, with the news that Engelbart passed away last night in his sleep, at age 88, we’ll once again suggest you find the 100 minutes necessary to rewatch the demo.

This is the birth of modern personal computing on so many levels. Engelbart, and his staff at SRI, more or less invented the very concept of a personal computer, including the mouse, the graphical user interface, hyperlinks, and so much more that is now standard today. So many of those concepts are now ubiquitous, in part, because of Engelbart’s brilliance, and his openness in sharing what he was working on and inspiring so many of those who came into contact with him over the years. Engelbart shared these concepts with the world, and the world took them and built so many useful things with them. The computing world we live in today would likely be very, very different if there had never been a Doug Engelbart.

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Comments on “To Honor Doug Engelbart, Who Passed Away Last Night, Please Go Watch His 1968 Demo”

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horse with no name says:

The computing world we live in today would likely be very, very different if there had never been a Doug Engelbart.

Every so often, someone comes along that sees things very differently, and he is an innovator that moves us forward in a big way with huge steps.

There are very few true innovators, he was one of them, and will be missed.

Lance says:

I had never watched this before today. Just some jaw-dropping stuff when you consider it was 1960-friggin-8. Text editing, hyperlinks, email, teleconferencing, shared desktop, forward and back (you know, like your browser). Oh, yeah: and he used a mouse.

The talk was given in San Francisco, but the computer he controlled was in Menlo Park.

To put how amazing that was in context: he was hoping that this experimental ARPANET would be running the next year with 12 computers and transmitting at 20kbps.

He was the Edison of the computer age.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re:

…except for the patent trolling. Edison is one of the reasons Hollywood came into existence. That’s right, they ran to California to get away from Edison’s lawyers.

We do owe Engelbart a debt, though. I wonder if Matthew “The Oatmeal” Inman will set up an Indiegogo fundraiser to set up a statue or something. I’d contribute.

Mike Linksvayer (profile) says:

condolences, but stay out of the Great Man gutter

The computing world we live in today would likely be very, very different if there had never been a Doug Engelbart.

Maybe very, very, considering the path dependency of computing development, in detail. But so what, would it have been very, very delayed or otherwise worse? I doubt it very much. Independent contemporaneous invention and all that.

Nick (profile) says:

Read this article for a good insight...

A short article about the meaning behind Englebart’s ideas…he was much more than any product creation, but the most about fostering collective intelligence…how groups interact with each other to “improve how they improve”. His contributions are still being studied to this day, and we can hope for a future where his ideas on constant improvement can be more fully realized.

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