40th Anniversary of "Mother of all demos"

Today is the 40th anniversary of what came to be known as "The Mother of All Demos", Doug Engelbart's presentation to the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, which previewed the computing landscape for decades to come.

Today is the 40th anniversary of what came to be known as "The Mother of All Demos", Doug Engelbart's presentation to the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. In this one 90 minute presentation he showed, in working form, for the very first time all of the following technologies:

  • The mouse
  • Graphical user interface with point and click and menus
  • Intermingling of text and graphics within a document, styling of text in a document
  • Hypertext and linking between documents
  • Remote collaboration plus videoconferencing

That's a pretty astonishing list. It basically described the landscape of computing for the following decades, presaging things like desktop publishing and the world wide web. And some things, like the remote collaboration and videoconferencing, we are still struggling to do well today. The fact that they were able to pull it off with a home-made modem forty years ago is amazing. Remember, this wasn't a simulation, this was working hardware and software being shown in real time.

This page at Stanford has video of the full 90 minute demo, broken into chunks. This is the highest quality version I've seen.

Google Video has the full 90 minute video also.

[UPDATE] Cnet has added a nice slideshow of images about the demo

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About the author

    Adam Richardson is the director of product strategy at frog design, where he guides strategy engagements for frog's international roster of clients, envisioning and creating new products, consumer electronics, and digital experiences. Adam combines a background in industrial design, interaction design, and sociology, and spends most of his time on convergent designs that combine hardware, software, service, brand, and retail. He writes and speaks extensively on design, business, culture, and technology, and runs his own Richardsona blog.

     

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