The 1968 Demonstration that Foreshadowed Modern Computing class=

The 1968 Demonstration that Foreshadowed Modern Computing

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Computing pioneer Douglas Engelbart passed away last week. Most headlines about his death described him as the inventor of the computer mouse. It’s unfortunate to have such a superficial empitath because of inventing such a ubiquitous device. Engelbart demostrated the mouse as part of a 1968 demonstration of a vision of the future of computing known as The Mother of All Demos. It’s a remarkable vision that has mostly come to fruition. The fascinating part of this vision, as embedded below, is how many elements of modern computing that was described with such computing constraints. This includes:

  • Internet and connectivity
  • Print and page setup
  • Systems and producitivy management
  • Text processing including copy, cut, paste, replace
  • Outlining
  • Document management includes keywords and keyword ranging
  • Elements of workflow
  • Graphic descriptions of content
  • Glossaries – a proto-wikipedia
  • Window freezing
  • Hyperlinks
  • Collaborative work with multiple people working on a document
  • Audit trails
  • Video conferencing
  • Use of specialized high-level languages
  • Computing utilities

Given the computing constraints of the time, there was a need to think deeply about how basic functionality could be used by people. It requires abstracting work and computing concepts together to find common ground. It was very much ahead of its time.