Closeup of mouse
On December 9, 1968, before a packed Brooks Hall auditorium in San Francisco, Douglas Engelbart, the director of Stanford Research Institute's Augmentation Research Center, took the stage and changed computing forever.
During a 100-minute presentation, Engelbart demonstrated to 1,000 people the work that he and SRI's chief engineer, Bill English, had been doing, work that is still recognizable in the way that everyone uses computers today.
It's possible, some have said, that there never had been, nor never would be, another presentation that unveiled as many new paradigm-shifting technologies. They included the world's first publicly seen mouse, as well as the introduction of hyperlinks and navigable windows. The presentation drew a standing ovation.
And it moved John Markoff, reporter at The New York Times and author of What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, to write: "There were two things that particularly dazzled the audience on that rainy Monday morning."
First, computing had made the leap from number crunching to become a communications and information-retrieval tool. Second, the machine was being used interactively with all its resources appearing to be devoted to a single individual. It was the first time that truly personal computing had been seen.
On Tuesday, SRI will present "Engelbart and the Dawn of Interactive Computing: SRI's Revolutionary 1968 Demo," a 40th anniversary celebration of what technology writer Steven Levy once called "the mother of all demos."
December 9, 2008 4:00 AM PST
Photo by: Stanford Research Institute
| Caption by: Daniel Terdiman
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