Friday, November 7, 2008

The Mother of All Mother of All Demo Celebrations

Our illustrious leader forwarded me the info on this event. It's the 40th anniversary of the Mother of all Demos. The event is in Stanford's memorial auditorium on December 9. We'll sooooo be there.

It's about as geeky an anniversary as one could possibly hope to have. In 1968, Douglas Engelbart showcased the research work that had taken place in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute. That meant showing off the world's first modern computing environment. It's where the world first saw the mouse, windowed work spaces, networked computing, and even hypertext. There will never be a more influential computing demonstration.

Historically, Xerox PARC gets the credit for inventing a lot of this stuff. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Xerox PARC perfected the ideas first shown here. Of course, the lines between the two organizations became extremely blurry as former ARC folk became PARC folk during the 70's. Note the 5-button keyboard-pad Engelbart uses in the demo. Standard issue with an Alto.

On a personal note, Bill English will be on hand to speak about the demo. I met Bill many years ago at the ACCRC, where he'd dropped in to recycle some computers. After we spoke for a half hour or so, and I gave him a tour of the facilities, he hinted that he'd been something of a technology visionary himself, back in the day.

I asked what he'd done in his youth. He told me he had built the first mouse. Forget Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Without Bill English and the guys at Stanford ARC, we'd all be using light pens. Ick.

Enough rambling! What good is a demo without a video. Watch the Engelbart demo below. And remember, this was all done in 1968!

1 comment:

Mei Lin Fung said...

Another contendor for the
"mother of all mother of all demo celebrations" organized by The Tech Museum of Innovation with MIT Museum this is a LOOK FORWARD that imagines what a program for the future incorporating Engelbart's ideas for technology for collective work, might look like. Includes a tour of the Leonardo da Vinci 500 years in the future exhibition.
Full disclosure - I am on the organizing committee - we are working to make this gathering as good an example of collective intelligence at work as we can.

Steve Wozniak, Alan Kay, Andy van Dam, Thomas Malone (MIT professor and author Future of Work), David Nordfors (Center for Innovation Journalism) and much much more