Monday, March 14, 2011

Douglas Engelbart - The Demo (1968)

This post follows up on one of the books I reviewed last week.  "From
Memex to Hypertext" included a report by Douglas C. Engelbart, "Program
on Human Effectiveness".  The full text of that report is available

The program's aim was "to bring significant improvement to the real-life
problem-solving effectiveness of individuals".  The culmination of this
program was a live demonstration in 1968, retrospectively dubbed the
"Mother of All Demos", where the computer mouse made its public debut:

"On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17
researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at
Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute
live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been
working on since 1962. ... This was the public debut of the computer
mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that
day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as
well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different
sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface."

Some highlights:
* Clip 8: Doug demonstrates working with a graphic file tagged with
  hyperlinked items. Clicking on a link in the graphic, Doug jumps to
  separate items, such as texts, linked to the graphic.
* Clip 11: Doug describes the goals of NLS (online system).
* Clip 12: Describes the mouse in more detail... "I don't know why we
  call it a mouse. It started that way and we never changed it."
* Clip 22: Doug illustrates how NLS can be used to construct,
  collaboratively modify, and ultimately publish reports and papers.
  (including hypertext linking)
* Clip 25: In this segment Doug shifts to two-person collaboration.

Another page about the Demo:

This page includes links to 30th and 40th anniversary panel discussions,
plus links to related publications.

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