Doug Engelbart

January 25th, 2010

When I first started reading this article, I did not realize that it was written by Doug Engelbart. While many people may not recognize his name, they will recognize his most well-known invention: the computer mouse. This and several other innovations by Engelbart were unveiled in 1968 at the “Mother of All Demos.” Other keynotes at this convention included the first example of video conferencing, and crude versions of email.

This article, being written in 1962, offers an interesting look into some of the early concepts behind Engelbart’s soon-to-be-unveiled ideas. Hands down, he is one of the most important people in modern computing history. He had a keen insight into the fundamental human-computer relationship, which was necessary in order to innovate. Let’s take, for example, the mouse, one of the most basic peripheral devices that we take for granted.

At its inception, it wasn’t highly sought after. Sure, some people were interested in it, but no one could really wrap their head around how useful this device would be. This is because they couldn’t look deeper into the human-computer relationship the way Engelbart could, which we can see mapped out so clearly in his article. He didn’t just want to invent new things for computers in the 60’s – he wanted to deconstruct the fundamental interface, and then cater tools to this relationship. This is why many of his early innovations laid the groundwork for things we use today: email, networking, work applications, and of course, the mouse.

Videos of his 1968 Demo can be found here. You can see him demonstrate some of the ideas conveyed in the article.

2 Responses to “Doug Engelbart”

  1. Chris Ann on January 25, 2010 11:38 pm

    Being a computer science major, Engelbart is indeed one of many people I really look up to. He had an idea that one day we will be able to compute the most challenging mathematical operations known, in a simple, quick, and efficient way. He changed the way technology is was and was a key person in the development of new technologies. His ideas allowed technology to become what it is today.

    My personal favorite invention of his was the mouse. Who else would have though of such an ingenious item haha, and even come up with the name “mouse”. Though they didn’t even become popular till apple came along, ugh.

  2. Victoria Pacher on January 26, 2010 8:47 am

    Yes, and it’s a shame that Engelbart didn’t receive a dime!

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