professional motivations are strongly oriented toward maximizing the benefit which
society might derive from the advancements in the computer field.
might say then that my professional interests are toward the application of automatic
information-handling equipment for helping human society, in the most significant
D. C. Engelbart; MEMORANDUM
- Possibilities for Teaching Machine Activity at SRI; May 18, 1960.
Many years ago,
I dreamed that digital technology could greatly augment our collective
human capabilities for dealing with complex, urgent problems. Computers,
high-speed communications, displays, interfaces--it's as if suddenly,
in an evolutionary sense, we're getting a super new nervous system to
upgrade our collective social organisms...
Since the first of
these dreams got fixed in my head, decades ago, I've struggled with
that the sooner the world gets serious about pursuing the possibilities,
the greater the chance that we can reduce the hazards facing this
careening vessel carrying us along.
Douglas Engelbart; Dreaming
of the Future; BYTE Magazine -- 20'th Anniversary Issue; September,
Engelbart invented the mouse, the graphical user interface, and the
first working hypertext system, NLS, which was also the second computer system
connected to the ARPANET.
At the end of World War II, Douglas Engelbart was a 20 year old US Navy radar
technician in the Philippines. One day in a Red Cross library, he picked up
a copy of the
Atlantic Monthly from July, 1945, read Vannevar
Bush's article about his "memex" automated library
system, and was profoundly influenced by the vision of the future of information
Sixteen years later Engelbart published his own version of Bush's vision,
advanced electronic information system in the paper "Augmenting Human Intellect:
A Conceptual Framework", prepared for the Air Force Office Of Scientific Research
and extracted below:
of the structuring forms I'll show you stem from the simple capability
of being able
to establish arbitrary linkages between different substructures, and of directing
the computer subsequently to display a set of linked substructures
with any relative
positioning we might designate among the different substructures.
can designate as many different kinds of links as you wish, so that you
different display or manipulative treatment for the different types.
Douglas Engelbart, Augmenting
Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, October 1962.
Engelbart joined the Stanford Research Institute
and in 1962 started work on Augment, a project to develop computer tools to
augment human capabilities. As part of this effort, he developed a computer
system called NLS (oN-Line System), to cross-reference research papers for
sharing among geographically distributed researchers. NLS provided groupware
capabilities, screen sharing among remote users, and reference links for moving
between sentences within a research paper and from one research
paper to another.
Engelbart had a vision of an interface between man and machine providing instant
connection and communication. Partly in fulfillment of that dream, he invented
the first graphical user interface and computer mouse, a picture of which can
be found below.
Engelbart demonstrated NLS at the Fall
Joint Computer Conference in 1968 in a presentation to several thousand conference
participants. He demonstrated the mouse, the first working form of hypertext,
and a form of video teleconferencing. A film of the event was made, in which
the audience can be seen giving the talk a standing ovation. NLS was subsequently
commercially distributed as the "Augment" application by
In tribute to his work, Engelbart's NLS system was chosen as the second
node on the ARPANET, giving him
a role in the invention
of the Internet as well as the Web.
following web sites provide more information on Engelbart: