Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doug Engelbart

I just learned that Doug Engelbart died yesterday.

So few people know that the way they work with their computers came to him in a flurry of creation while driving to work one day.

The computer mouse, multiple applications on the screen at one time, graphical select/copy/cut/paste between them, graphics and text at the same time, hypertext links, AND shared files, displays, video and audio collaboration across computer networks.

He showed it working in 1968. It took another 10 years before the computers were small enough, and cheap enough, to even begin to make his vision a reality, and years after that before Steve Jobs walked out of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center having seen one of Doug's computer mice, graphical user interface, all of it for the first time. Jobs then went home and built a mouse that didn't cost thousands of dollars just for a “pointer”.

Soon, the Mac, still doing only part of what Mr. Engelbart had envisioned so many years before, revolutionized what "computing" meant to the world.

It was only after Mr. Engelbart's ideas escaped into the public domain, enriching humanity's knowledge commons, that his vision could finally come true. And here I am working within it.

Here's an interview from 2005. NerdTV #11. Well, actually, see them all. Well worth it.

Thank you, Doug Engelbart. Thank you.

"And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants."

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