Computing legend Douglas Engelbart dies at 88

The man whose work was behind such computing mainstays as the mouse, graphical user interfaces, and hyperlinks has passed away.

Edward Moyer Senior Editor
Ed is a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world who enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch. For nearly a quarter of a century, he's edited and written stories about various aspects of the technology world, from the US National Security Agency's controversial spying techniques to historic NASA space missions to 3D-printed works of fine art. Before that, he wrote about movies, musicians, artists and subcultures.
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Edward Moyer
Engelbart on a flier for the famous 1968 "mother of all demos." Stanford Research Institute

Douglas Engelbart -- whose work was behind such computing mainstays as the mouse, graphical user interfaces, and hyperlinks -- has died at 88.

In an e-mail, Engelbart's daughter Christina said he had passed away peacefully in his sleep Tuesday night.

The mouse that roared: The mouse Engelbart and English created at SRI in 1968. Stanford Research Institute

Among techies, Engelbart is perhaps best known for what tech writer Steven Levy once called "the mother of all demos."

On December 9, 1968, Engelbart, then director of Stanford Research Institute's Augmentation Research Center, took the stage at San Francisco's Brooks Hall auditorium and launched into a demonstration of the work he and SRI's chief engineer, Bill English, had been doing.

The 100-minute demo included such paradigm-shifting technologies as the world's first publicly seen mouse, as well as the introduction of hyperlinks and navigable windows. It was, according to John Markoff, reporter at The New York Times and author of "What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry," the first time that truly personal computing had been seen.

You can check out more about that famous presentation here, or watch the video below.