Douglas Engelbart (1925 – 2013)

On December 9, 1968, Douglas Engelbart demonstrated at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco a complete computer hardware/software system called the oN-Line System (NLS).

Influenced by the ideas of Vannemar Bush, he wanted to turn the Memex concepts into reality, where a machine used interactively by one person could “Augment” their intelligence.

His presentation is remembered in history as “The Mother of all Demos” since he introduced almost all the fundamental elements of modern personal computing that day: multiple windows, hypertext, graphics, efficient navigation and command input, video conferencing, the computer mouse (pictured), word processing, dynamic file linking, revision control, and a collaborative real-time editor.

His prototypes spawned similar projects at Xerox PARC in the early 1970s. The underlying technologies influenced both the Apple and Microsoft in their products during the 80ies and 90ies.

Fun facts:

  • Englebart never saw a penny from the mouse patent because it expired just before the device became widely used with almost every computer.
  • Early versions of the mouse were named “turtle”. But in the end mouse stuck.

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