50 years on, we’re living the reality first shown at the “Mother of All Demos” | Ars Technica
A half century ago, computer history took a giant leap when Douglas Engelbart—then a mid-career 43-year-old engineer at Stanford Research Institute in the heart of Silicon Valley—gave what has come to be known as the “mother of all demos.”
On December 9, 1968 at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart showed off the first inklings of numerous technologies that we all now take for granted: video conferencing, a modern desktop-style user interface, word processing, hypertext, the mouse, collaborative editing, among many others.
Even before his famous demonstration, Engelbart outlined his vision of the future more than a half-century ago in his historic 1962 paper, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”
To open the 90-minute-long presentation, Engelbart posited a question that almost seems trivial to us in the early 21st century: “If in your office, you as an intellectual worker were supplied with a computer display, backed up by a computer that was alive for you all day, and was instantly responsible—responsive—to every action you had, how much value would you derive from that?”
Of course at that time, computers were vast behemoths that were light-years away from the pocket-sized devices that have practically become an extension of ourselves.