The mother of all demos

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart sho...

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart showing the wheels that directly contact the working surface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following on from my last post which included mention of the historical turning points created by Douglas Engelbart, who died on July 2 at age 88, I wanted to share a record of some of that.

If Douglas’ name doesn’t ring a bell, then look at your computer mouse and give thanks to this World War II radar technician who came up with the idea in the 1960s. Engelbart also influenced computer use in other ways, such as working on the use of multiple windows, network computing technologies. In addition, his lab helped develop ARPANet, which was the government network that predated the Internet.

A bit of his history is captured and available on YouTube. The Mother of All Demos is a name given retrospectively to Douglas Engelbart’s December 9, 1968, demonstration of experimental computer technologies that are now commonplace. The live demonstration featured the introduction of the computer mouse, video conferencing, teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing, hypermedia, object addressing and dynamic file linking, bootstrapping, and a collaborative real-time editor.

Extraordinary!

Creating change, creating the future


What a great week for change and development it has been!  In a significant point in history I saw today that one of the world’s innovators, Douglas Englbart died, and there was plenty of commentary reflecting his myriad contributions circulating in the globe’s media.

The Computer History Museum explained:

Engelbart’s most important work began with his 1959 founding of the Augmentation Research Center, where he developed some of the key technologies used in computing today. Engelbart brought the various strands of his research together for his “mother of all demos” in San Francisco on December 8, 1968, an event that presaged many of the technologies and computer-usage paradigms we would use decades later. His system, called NLS, showed actual instances of, or precursors to, hypertext, shared screen collaboration, multiple windows, on-screen video teleconferencing, and the mouse as an input device.

It was interesting to read that Engelbart conceived the computer mouse so early in the evolution of computers that he and his colleagues didn’t profit much from it. The mouse patent had a 17-year life span, allowing the technology to pass into the public domain in 1987. That prevented Engelbart from collecting royalties on the mouse when it was in its widest use. At least a billion have been sold since the mid-1980s.

Meanwhile, as the last century continues to fade, CSU staff are busy this week nurturing the potential future innovators in information studies -  through the Melbourne study visit of libraries and information agencies, and the mid-year residential school for latest new students in the Bachelor of Information Studies.

Melbourne Study Tour

These two activities combined have seen a host of excited students – but the newest recruits were easily the most amazing bunch I’ve seen so far.

If they keep up the level of enthusiasm they have shown this week – watch out world!

I’ll be chatting to them about the social networking subject of course, and they are the first lucky bunch to be introduced to our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SISCSU and Twitter account https://twitter.com/SISCSU.

No fear -  the School of Information Studies staff are a talented bunch.  We even provide our own entertainment for students, lead by Damian Lodge – lecturer, ALIA Director, and classical guitar maker!

Image: 25 Years of Apple Mouse Evolution cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by osaMu