jump to navigation

A Fond Farewell to Dave Evans September 21, 2014

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Historic, Human Interest.
Tags: ,
add a comment


One remarkable quality of Doug Engelbart’s legacy is the enduring alumni community that emerged from his lab, the Augmentation Research Center at SRI.

We are sad to report that one of our own, Dave Evans pictured at right in a 1968 archive photo, has passed away on Friday, September 19, 2014, following a stroke.

As a graduate student at Stanford in 1965, he met Doug Engelbart by chance at a Seminar, got hooked on bootstrapping, and began to visit and then to work with Doug and his team at SRI in the period 1966 to 1969.
Watch footage from 1969 demoWatch archive film footage from 1969 featuring Dave Evans demoing with Doug Engelbart. Dave served a valuable role at AHIRC/ARC was as a sounding-board for ideas and as a facilitator in management and community initiatives. See more on Dave’s career and accomplishments.

In April 2013, Dave was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia by the Governor General for “significant service to science and innovation through commercialising and developing new technologies.” See press article “An innovative career” for details, and photos of the Investiture Ceremony below.

DaveEvans1960s-1 DaveEvans1960s-5 DaveEvans1960s-4
398107_201334716678775_1552132058_n australiaday-dave-family-3 australiaday-dave-awardees-group

A Message from his Family

This note is to let you know that David died last night (19 September 2014) just before midnight. His children and Elizabeth have been with him this week. He looked very peaceful this morning.

We are planning to hold a service and a celebration of his life on:
Tuesday 30 September 2014
1:30pm onwards
St Stephens Presbyterian Church on Morriset Street, Queanbeyan NSW.

David grew up in Queanbeyan and over the last couple of years he would take us there occasionally (his ability to issue directions was uncanny). He would take us to a series of places that were important to him in his childhood and young adult-hood – it was always an enjoyable way to pass an afternoon. Dad was not a religious man, but we think it is fitting that the service will be at St Stephens as the church has a long family history.

David has enjoyed the last few years in Canberra. He settled well into his new home and made friends with all and sundry despite his difficulty in communicating. That special sparkle that he had in his eye and his smile made him a favourite among staff and residents at Kangara Waters. He enjoyed receiving visitors and the notes and cards and emails that would steadily arrive from many of you. I hope some of you will consider making the trip to Canberra (and Queanbeyan) to celebrate his life with us.

Fond regards
Joey and Lindy

Announcing summer MOOC and Engelbart Scholar Award at VCU April 25, 2014

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Uncategorized.

Gardner Campbell and Christina Engelbart
Gardner Campbell and Christina Engelbart at VCU

Just returning this week from a wonderful visit with Gardner Campbell and company at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, VA, to announce the establishment of an Engelbart Scholar Award at VCU in conjunction with an exciting new Focused Inquiry MOOC on Research Writing (VCU UNIV200). The MOOC is the brainchild of Dr. Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success, and Associate Professor of English.

MOOC participants will learn about how the Internet affords a new medium for collaborative research and research writing through studying the visionary research of pioneers of the Information Age, including including Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, and others, and will be simultaneously prototyping an open collaborative knowledge environment, including tools inspired by said research visionaries, in which to conduct and capture their work.

Follow #ThoughtVectors and @ThoughtVectors
on Twitter to watch it all unfold -
see www.thoughtvectors.net for details

The Engelbart Scholar Award will be presented to a qualified VCU student enrolled in the MOOC to include registration in the course and an opportunity of an Internship with the Doug Engelbart Institute.

Christina Engelbart with Gardner's MOOC team
Session with MOOC team

I am so thrilled and honored to be participating with the extended design team for the MOOC, and proud to be offering the Engelbart Scholar Award in conjunction with the course. Looking forward to presenting the Award to one lucky undergrad, and participating in the MOOC this summer.

See photo album on Doug Engelbart Institute Facebook page http://on.fb.me/1nQ4Ygb


Christina (center) with VCU Engelbart Scholar Awardees Will and Anisa

Christina (center) with VCU Engelbart Scholar Awardees Will and Anisa

The course launched June 10th, and the two winners of the Engelbart Scholar Award were announced — Congratulations to Anisa Kannen and Will Sullivan, our very first Engelbart Scholar Award recipients. Exciting times ahead!

A week later Gardner and team presented their pilot project MOOC at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference in June 2014, joined remotely by Christina Engelbart and Will Sullivan, one of our first Engelbart Scholar Award winners. Watch their joint presentation at NMC2014.

See also press coverage
VCU ventures into online educational phenomenon
Richmond Times-Dispatch
October 2, 2014


Doug Engelbart inducted to Internet Hall of Fame April 10, 2014

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Historic, Tributes.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Celebrating the visionaries and innovators who were
instrumental in shaping today’s Internet and expanding its global connectivity

2014 Inductees and Stand-ins

2014 Inductees and Stand-ins

Hong Kong — April 8, 2014 — The late Doug Engelbart now joins the elite ranks of notable individuals who have been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for their significant contributions to the advancement of the global Internet. Today the Internet Hall of Fame recognizes Engelbart posthumously for his seminal contributions to personal and collaborative computing, and participation in the early formation of the ARPAnet, precursor to the Internet.

Doug Engelbart has been named a Pioneer of the Internet, a category which recognizes and celebrates individuals who were instrumental in the early design and development of the Internet.


In the early 1960s, Dr. Engelbart founded the Augmentation Research Center lab at SRI in Menlo Park, Calif., where he and his team pioneered a system for “augmenting human intellect,” envisioning workers sitting at display workstations could collaborate on solutions to humanity’s problems through a vast online information space. He was the primary force behind the NLS system, which featured document sharing, hyperlinking, teleconferencing, digital libraries, and more, with novel human-computer interface elements such as precursors to the graphical user interface and the computer mouse. In 1968 he and his team staged the first public demonstration of their work, now famously known as the “Mother of All Demos.” Engelbart’s lab made Internet history in 1969 as the second host on the ARPAnet, sending and receiving the first transmissions on a distributed network, and by conceiving the first Network Information Center (NIC) to support the emerging ARPAnet community online.

In his 1970 paper on the implications of networking, Engelbart foretold the emergence of a new “marketplace” representing “fantastic wealth in commodities of knowledge, service, information, processing, and storage,” with “a vitality and dynamism much greater than today’s, as today’s is different from the village market.” In his 1995 publication “Boosting Our Collective IQ,” he outlined what he saw to be the baseline requirements for information technology to reach its potential, outlining his template for a ubiquitous open hyperdocument system (OHS).

“The 2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductees include extraordinary individuals who have helped shape the global Internet,” noted Internet Society CEO Kathy Brown. “This historic assembly of Internet trailblazers, innovators, and thought-leaders represent many different countries and backgrounds, each with an inspiring story to share. We applaud their achievements and determination to push the boundaries of technological and social innovation to connect the world.”

Christina Engelbart accepting for her late father

Christina Engelbart accepting for her late father

“My father was a true visionary.” recounts daughter and longtime business partner Christina Engelbart, who was invited to accept the award on his behalf. “With all the amazing advancements in internet and information technology to date, we have still only scratched the surface of the true potential he envisioned for humanity. He left us with quite a legacy to fulfill.”

Engelbart was honored at the Internet Society’s 2014 Induction Ceremony on April 8 in Hong Kong. Watch the Internet Hall of Fame induction ceremony online. More details on the 2014 Internet Hall of Fame inductees, including their biographies and photos, can be found at http://www.internethalloffame.org. You can follow the Internet Hall of Fame on Facebook and on Twitter at @Internet_HOF (#ihof2014).

About Doug Engelbart
Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart (www.dougengelbart.org) earned an unparalleled track record in predicting, designing, and implementing the future of interactive, collaborative and organizational computing. From his early vision of turning organizations into highly evolved “augmented knowledge workshops,” he went on to pioneer what is now known as interactive computing, collaborative hypermedia, knowledge management, community networking, and organizational transformation, with integrated prototypes in full operational use under the NLS system as early as 1968. After 20 years directing the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at SRI International, and a decade in industry first at Tymshare, and then at McDonnell Douglas Corporation, Engelbart founded what is now the Doug Engelbart Institute with his daughter Christina Engelbart, working closely with industry and government stakeholders on collaborative implementations of his strategic vision. For outstanding lifetime achievement and ingenuity, Engelbart received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the ACM Turing Award, and the IEEE John Von Neumann Medal. His life’s work, with his “big-picture” vision and persistent pioneering breakthroughs, has made a significant impact on the past, present, and future of personal, interpersonal, and organizational computing.

About the Internet Hall of Fame
The Internet Hall of Fame (www.internethalloffame.org) is a recognition program and virtual museum that celebrates the living history of the Internet and the individuals whose extraordinary contributions have made the Internet, its worldwide availability and use, and its transformative nature possible. The Internet Hall of Fame was launched by the Internet Society in 2012.

About the Internet Society
The Internet Society (www.internetsociety.org) is the trusted independent source for Internet information and thought leadership from around the world. With its principled vision and substantial technological foundation, the Internet Society promotes open dialogue on Internet policy, technology, and future development among users, companies, governments, and other organizations. Working with its members and Chapters around the world, the Internet Society enables the continued evolution and growth of the Internet for everyone.

How these rural initiatives in Uganda are already meeting the Engelbart Challenge December 13, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Collective IQ, Engelbart Challenge, Human Interest.
add a comment

By guest contributor Patricia Seybold, Founder & CEO of Patricia Seybold Group, author of Customers.com, The Customer Revolution, and Outside Innovation.

How Uganda Rural Development Training Programme (
URDT) and the African Rural University (ARUare already meeting the Engelbart Challenge 

Twenty-five years ago, an innovative experiment was launched in western Uganda: to co-evolve a set of transformational techniques with impoverished people living in rural, under-developed areas—tools that empower people to create a vision of what they want in their lives and to work together to achieve that vision. Now, twenty-five years later, tens of thousands of people are teaching one another how to “Awaken the Sleeping Genius in Each of Us” as they improve the quality of their lives and the prosperity of their homes and their communities.

Video: Overview of URDT’s Unique Approach to Rural Development

One part of URDT’s “secret sauce” is to teach school girls to become change agents in their families and in their communities. This “low tech” example uses the brilliant minds of enterprising young girls to ignite the brilliant minds of their family members. These families prosper, and, in turn, teach others in their communities how to replicate their success, they then all move on to community-scale projects—building schools, water sources, roads, and farming co-ops.

Video: Safira’s Story—How a 13-year old girl empowered her family to move from poverty to middle class prosperity

To spread the power of this creative visionary approach to community development, many of these girls graduate from the URDT Girls School and become students at the African Rural University. There, they join other young women from across Africa to be trained as Rural Transformation Agents.

Video: Grace Biira—Why I am studying at the African Rural University

When they graduate, they are offered jobs in rural sub-counties—each young woman is now chartered to ignite the creativity and aspirations of people in scores of rural villages. Among their duties: identify and support additional school girls and their families to become role models creating systemic change in each village. Help villagers create and achieve visions for their communities.

Video: Resty’s Internship in the Field


How URDT Embodies the Principles of Improving Collective IQ

A. We teach children and adults how to create a vision of the goals they want to achieve, and how to use the structural tension between their current reality and their vision to generate actions that enable them to realize their goals. Students and their families apply these techniques in the students’ “back home projects” each school term. Students teach their parents new techniques to use each semester, and are graded on how well their families learn and do using this “Two-Generation” approach to education (kids teaching their parents and siblings).

B. We use systems thinking, participatory action planning, and collective reflection to continuously improve how quickly and how well people on campus and in the communities are able to achieve their goals. This is a daily practice, involving the entire student body, faculty and staff for an hour at the start of each day.

C. We are constantly identifying new opportunities for collective co-evolution. For example, school girls’ parents decided to form a savings co-operative to grant micro-loans for farming projects. Then farmers decided to improve the profits from organic farming by planting higher value crops. Then they decided to build agricultural processing plants to create higher-value food, like milled flour and animal feed. These locally-generated initiatives are replicated across the network of participating families and communities.

1. How do we Engage Our Innovators?

We start with the school children. We teach first school girls, now both girls and boys, how to use the creative process and the visionary approach. We also arm them with practical know-how in sanitation, nutrition, organic farming and business entrepreneurship.

The children teach their parents and their siblings—both first hand, and by writing and performing plays in the communities, and by broadcasting on the community radio.

These families who now have a creative, visionary orientation towards life inspire and teach others in their communities. Many start small businesses and hire and train others.

The school children and families are supported by the teachers and staff at URDT. The leaders in each village, district, and county become enrolled in the creative, visionary process through participatory action workshops. The community radio is used to supplement and reinforce the hands on training the interns provide and to mobilize community members.

The African Rural University student interns and graduates identify, train and support innovators in the rural communities they’re deployed in. They work with community members to identify needs, and to plan and execute community-driven projects to address those needs. They also train and support the leaders at each level of government.

These interns and graduates support one another and they are supported by the staff of URDT. The community members support one another and join together in a variety of community projects.

2. How Do We Leverage Our Collective IQ?

The University graduates who work in the field as “Epicenter Managers” and the secondary school children who work with their families on school breaks all report back what they are learning and what challenges they’re seeing.

Students, interns, faculty, and graduates write and share reports, create video documentaries, establish a baseline for each family and document the improvements in household income, health, nutrition, and education.

The educational institutions on the URDT campus use the learnings from all the field work that is taking place to study what works and what needs improvement. For example, the University students engaged in participatory research with groups of women in several villages about land rights. Who owned the land they were farming? What kind of ownership was it (there are 4 different kinds of land ownership)? Who inherits the land? What can you do to gain title to the land you are farming?  How can you ensure that you will retain title to the land when your spouse dies?  These village women—many of them illiterate—learned about their own properties and took the steps required to gain title to the land they were farming. This land rights participatory education program was so successful that it is now being developed into curriculum for secondary schools throughout Uganda.

3. How Do We Focus on Core Capabilities?

The goals of the people we serve are to improve their health, income, and quality of life.

We provide them the tools to envision and to achieve these goals by teaching them how to master the creative process to achieve what they want in their lives.

We also teach them the skills they need to improve sanitation, nutrition, farming productivity, carpentry, mechanics, solar technology, and many other trades and crafts, and we teach them how to start and run a profitable business.

The new vocabulary they use is related to having a creative orientation. They talk about creating and achieving a vision. They talk about engaging their family members in planning. They refer to obstacles as their “current reality.” They identify local resources they can mobilize to achieve their goals.

Their world view is very holistic. They have all become “systems thinkers.” They see the interconnectedness between sanitation and good nutrition and health. They discuss the need to improve the quality of their roads in order to increase commerce and gain access to better education and healthcare.

4.  Push the Frontier: How are we accelerating our human/tools co-evolution & understanding how quickly we can evolve?

By replicating the same practices from the school child to the family unit, to the community, to the sub-county, we are creating a recursive ripple effect. That’s why we call our employed university graduates—our Rural Transformation Specialists—Epicenter Managers. Each one is at the epicenter of a new set of waves of co-evolution and co-development.

Many of the people in the communities that are engaging with URDT and ARU and its students and graduates are wholeheartedly adopting the principles of the creative orientation towards their own lives. They have moved from resignation and apathy to being engaged creators of their own destinies. They are working across tribal and gender boundaries on common, shared projects. In addition to the pilot projects that are undertaken each year in 240 families (the families of the Girls’ School students) over a five to six year period, we also have two or three projects going in each village in which there is an intern or an ARU graduate. In addition to these projects, which have been stimulated by URDT/ARU students and graduates, many local people and village leaders are undertaking their own projects to improve some aspect of the community infrastructure (roads, schools, clinics) or of the local economy (savings societies, marketplaces, value-added production).

We can and do support and amplify the co-evolution through outreach, through radio programming, by interviewing and documenting success stories, by holding community meetings, and by bringing experts from all over the world to study what is happening in this corner of Uganda.

5. How Do We Walk Our Talk?

We excel in practicing what we preach. We are constantly coming up with new ideas for new ways to improve sustainable livelihoods in rural communities. For example, we provide training for urban youth on how to thrive in the rural communities they migrated from—how to engage in profitable agriculture and to build local sustainable businesses so they can remain in the countryside, rather than working in an overcrowded, congested urban setting.

We are embarking on a “green campus” program to take our current organic farm and sustainable energy practices to the next level as we continue to evolve and improve our campus.

Celebrating Doug Engelbart and the 45th Anniversary of the Mother of All Demos December 10, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Historic, Human Interest.
1 comment so far

December 9th, 2013 marked the 45th anniversary of the Mother of All Demos with a wonderful memorial celebration of Doug Engelbart, a new tribute site honoring Doug Engelbart, more tributes, and numerous articles.

Main Event


Technology Legend:
Honoring Douglas Engelbart

Computer History Museum, December 9th, 2013
With SRI International and Logitech, Inc. See photos from the event. Watch the entire program here:


We at the Doug Engelbart Institute wish to extend
our deepest heartfelt gratitude to the Computer History Museum, SRI International, and Logitech Inc. for an incredibly moving, rousing
and fitting memorial celebration.”
 – Christina Engelbart, Executive Director and Daughter.


Doug EngelbartTribute to Doug Engelbart Website
New tribute site honoring Doug Engelbart – share how you were touched, browse photo gallery, tribute videos, and more.

The Com­pu­ter Mouse: Enabling Personal Computing
A wonderful video short from SRI International

See the System Behind Engelbart’s Historic Mother of All Demos,
By Brad Neuberg, lead developer in the HyperScope project


An Homage to Douglas Engelbart and a Critique of the State of Tech
By John Markoff, NY Times, December 16, 2013

Computer History Museum Honors Technology Legend Douglas Engelbart
IT Business Net, Dec 9, 2013

Computer History Museum Honors Technology Legend Douglas Engelbart
Globe News Wire, Dec 9, 2013

Doug Engelbart Lives On – A Celebration of His Life and Unfinished Work
Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher, December 12, 2013

In Pictures: The Mother of All Demos – The 1968 presentation that sparked a tech revolution
CIO Magazine, Dec 9, 2013

The Mother of All Demos’ Is 45 Years Old, Doesn’t Look a Day Over 25
The Atlantic, Dec 9, 2013

45 Years Ago, We Saw The Mouse For The First Time 
Huffington Post,  Dec 9, 2013

Tech Time Warp of the Week: The Mother of All Demos, 1968
Wired, Dec 13, 2013

Mother of All Demos

DEI_SanFran1968-cropTo learn more about the demo or watch footage of the demo, visit Doug’s 1968 Demo at the Doug Engelbart Institute.

Re: “What ever happened to Augmenting Human Intellect” November 30, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Collective IQ, Technology.
add a comment

Here is a must-see webinar from O’Reilly Webcast:

Whatever Happened to “Augmenting Human Intellect”?
Presented by Scott Murray November 20 2013
Exploring the fundamental role of data visualization in a palatable form to human perception 

Murray does an excellent job outlining  Doug Engelbart’s seminal work, really nails the essence of his vision with great visuals (of course), and discusses how it might inform or inspire the field of data visualization. He also covers the contributions of Vannevar Bush and Charles Babbage.

Vote for the Mouse in first-ever Tech Tournament October 21, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Historic.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Here’s your chance to cast your vote for, say, the Mouse, in the first ever Tech Tournament, “where innovation’s elite compete in a bracket-style competition to determine the most meaningful technological advancement from the past three-quarters of a century.”

Screenshot from SRI's mouse video

See this fabulous video short The Com­pu­ter Mouse: Enabling Personal Computing. Then visit the Mouse entry at the tournament site, where you can cast your vote in three quick steps: (1) register, (2) sign in, and (3) click “Vote for this entry”.

Watch the video to see how the Mouse “put the power of computing in everyone’s hands”

This is just one of many great ways to celebrate the 45th Anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s 1968 “Mother of All Demos” coming up this December 9th. For more background on these seminal innovations, and other ways to celebrate, visit the Doug Engelbart Institute.

To browse other tournament entries, visit http://bit.ly/18CItCV – if you don’t see the Mouse entry, try Sort by Date or Summary.

This tournament is sponsored by the International Research Institute (IRI). The Mouse entry video was submitted by member SRI International, formerly Stanford Research Institute, where Doug Engelbart invented the Mouse, and more recently where SIRI was born before spinning off into startup.

Voting ends November 15th.

The human side of Doug Engelbart July 6, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Human Interest.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far
Doug as a young boy with his brother
Doug as a young boy (left) with his kid brother (right)
See Photos from Childhood

So much has been written about his professional vision and accomplishments, here are some snippets about his human side.

“He’s right up there in that category of probably the top 10 people, ever, in Silicon Valley, not only for the work they did, but how they touched people.”
— Curt Carlson, President & CEO, SRI International, where Doug did the bulk of his seminal research [source]

“He wanted to help people solve problems, and he saw the world as having very significant problems. That is not something you can get a patent on, start a company or make a fortune on. Bill Gates’ vision was a computer on every desk running Microsoft software. Doug had a much larger humanitarian vision.”
— Howard Rheingold, in “Tools for Thought” [source]

“Doug’s ideas were not really about technology, per se. Rather, his goal was to improve collaboration and the way people work together to solve the toughest, most important societal problems.”
— Curt Carlson’s Reflections on Doug Engelbart [source]

“Engelbart was big on the people part of the equation. He clearly saw the heartbeat behind the ones and zeros of the digital age. He believed that computers, which were primarily for crunching numbers and spitting out answers when he started his work, had the ability to empower people and enhance their intellect in ways that would improve their lives.”
— Mike Cassidy, Mercury News siliconvalley.com [source]

“He saw the computer as a power tool for boosting both individual and organizational IQ. Doug had this vision that computers could augment human intelligence and he set about creating a system that would do that.”
— Andy van Dam, Brown University [source]

“Doug’s vision was to create a new home for the human mind, to turn digital technology into powerful tools that would help us meet the ever greater challenges on this planet.”
— Paul Saffo, Futurist, Consulting Professor at Stanford University [source]

“Doug Engelbart’s legacy is much more than “the mouse.” He designed and refined a new organizational nervous system for the 21st century.”
— Patricia Seybold, Outside Innovation [source]

“Doug thought at scale. He understood that a car is not simply a faster tricycle. He had faith that an augmented intellect, joined to millions of other augmented intellects, could [empower] vast new modes of thinking [that] could grasp intricately meaningful symbols as quickly and comprehensively as we can recognize a loved one’s face. For Doug, computers [were] the tools we have invented in our quest for a new language.”
Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation, Virginia Commonwealth Univ. [source]

“It’s as if they found the person who invented writing, and credited them for inventing the pencil,” says Bret Victor re: tech writer interviews of Engelbart. “The least important question you can ask about Engelbart is, “What did he build?” [...] The most important question you can ask about Engelbart is, “What world was he trying to create?””
— Bret Victor [source]

From writings on the Doug Engelbart Institute site

See Just for Kids – Excerpt: “As far as being a grandpa, he would always make up stories about a really intelligent, really little, magical dog named Fifi who can make himself really tiny or even invisible and fly around in a miniature spaceship and cause mischief. He especially likes the mischief part.” Read more…

See also How Doug Engelbart taught kids to ride a bike (without training wheels) – “Doug’s inquisitive nature, adventurous attitude, compassion, and patience were a key part of his success with this method — one of his lesser known but highly endearing innovations…” Read more…

From A Lifetime Pursuit – “He and his wife of 47 years, Ballard [...] were avid folk dancers for many years with a very special group of friends of all ages. Through the years Doug also enjoyed exercising, hiking, camping, sailing, reading, bike riding (although he appeased his wife long ago by giving up trick riding), organic gardening, raising ducks, earthworms, and bees, reading mysteries, making up science fiction fantasy stories for children, giving science lectures to his wife Ballard when she had trouble sleeping, and any excuse for a family gathering.” Read more…

From tributes posted by friends and colleagues

“Very sorry to hear about Doug’s passing. He was one of the nicest, best intentioned people I’ve ever known. The world is a dimmer place without him, but a much brighter place for his having been here.”

“We still remember the folk dancing parties that Doug and Ballard put on at your house in Atherton.”

“Your father has been a presence in my life since the day I met him, about 1966. A wonderful man, a formative influence on so many people, and yes, a genius. We won’t see his like again, and I am very proud to have worked for him.”

“such a gentle, beautiful man.”

“He was a truly great man, and I learned SO much from him.”

“He was an extraordinary man.”

“He was a wonderful father, as well as amazing visionary.”

“He was an amazing person and I have fond memories of him around your home, camping, helping with science projects.”

“One thing I especially liked about your dad was how gentle and kind he was. He seemed to truly love people. I’m honored to have worked with him.”

“He was such a light, a kind warmhearted person. Getting to work with both of you a few years ago taught me so many things and made me a better person.”

“Doug and his dreams where so much a part on so many of us. I am so lucky to have been in part of them.”

“A thankful world stands in awe of his inventiveness, intelligence, generosity and humility.”

Press tributes to Doug Engelbart on his passing July 4, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Human Interest.
Tags: ,

So many wonderful articles, photos and tributes are appearing to mark the passing of Doug Engelbart, a great legend and wonderful man, on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. We will be posting some of the highlights here. For tributes from friends, colleagues, and the public, or to post your own, please see the Doug Engelbart Institute Facebook page. For more information about him and his life’s work, past, present and future, see the Doug Engelbart Institute website.

Getty - Doug Engelbart circa 1998

Doug Engelbart circa 1998 [Getty]

  Contents [top]

SRI Alumnus and World-Renowned Computing Pioneer Douglas Engelbart Passed Away July 2, SRI International Press Release

Computer Visionary Who Invented the Mouse, by John Markoff, NY Times

Douglas Engelbart, 88; changed computers with his mouse, by John Markoff, NY Times

Broadcast News

Inventor Of Computer Mouse Dies; Doug Engelbart Was 88 , NPR

Douglas Engelbart, Father of the Computer Mouse, Dies at Age 88, ABC News

Computer mouse inventor Doug Engelbart dies at 88, BBC News

Computer mouse inventor Douglas Engelbart dead at 88, CBS News

Computer mouse inventor Douglas Engelbart dies, CNN News

Mouse inventor and computing pioneer Douglas Engelbart dies at 88, NBC News

“Print” Monthlies

The Hut Where the Internet Began, The Atlantic Monthly

Remembering Doug Engelbart, PC Magazine

“Print” Dailies

Douglas Engelbart, computer visionary and inventor of the mouse, dies at 88, Washington Post

Doug Engelbart, inventor of computer mouse, dies at 88, The Guardian

Doug Engelbart Dead: Inventor Of The Computer Mouse Dies At 88, Huffington Post

Engelbart, inventor of computer mouse, dies at 88, By Michael Liedtke, AP, San Francisco Chronicle

Douglas Engelbart, tech genius and inventor of the mouse, dies at 88, By Mike Cassidy, Mercury News

Douglas Engelbart dies at age 88; computer visionary, LA Times

Stanford researcher Doug Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse, dies, by Brooke Donald, Stanford University

Douglas Engelbart, Computer Mouse Creator, Visionary, Dies at 88, by Laurence Arnold, Bloomberg Newsroom


Reflections on Douglas Engelbart and His Influence on SRI Today, by Curt Carlson, President & CEO SRI International, author Five Disciplines of Innovation

Remembering Doug Engelbart, by Bracken Darrell, Logitech President & CEO

Learning from Revolutionaries: Doug Engelbart & John Seybold, by Patricia Seybold, Outside Innovation: “Doug’s life work isn’t over. We still need to implement much of his vision…”

Douglas Engelbart’s Unfinished Revolution, by Howard Rheingold for MIT Technology Review, author Tools for Thought

Doug Engelbart and the vision thing: Is Silicon Valley suffering from a failure of imagination? by Mathew Ingram, GigaOM

Remembering Doug Engelbart, TED – Ideas Worth Spreading

Last week a Great Man, Doug Engelbart, passed away, by Kevin Hughes

People we’ve lost in 2013, CNN (listed under Icons)

Computing legend Douglas Engelbart dies at 88, by Edward Moyer C|NET

A few words on Doug Engelbart, by Bret Victor

Inventing the Mouse April 12, 2013

Posted by Christina Engelbart in Archives, Historic.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

stillshot from Doug's video interview
Watch Doug tell the story (2004)
[courtesy Logitech, Inc.]

the first computer mouse - circa 1964The first mouse –
click to see photo gallery
[courtesy SRI International and Stanford University MouseSite]

“Father of the Mouse”

Doug Engelbart invented the computer mouse in the early 1960s in his research lab at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International). The first prototype was built in 1964, the patent application for this “X-Y position indicator for a display system” was filed in 1967, and US Patent 3,541,541 was awarded in 1970. Although many impressive innovations for interacting with computers have followed in the last 50 years since its invention, the mouse remains to this day the most efficient hands on pointing device available.

The First Mouse

The basic idea for the mouse first came to him in the early 1960s while sitting in a conference session on computer graphics, his mind mulling over the challenge of making interactive computing more efficient. It occurred to him in that moment that, using a pair of small wheels traversing a tabletop, one wheel turning horizontally, one turning vertically, the computer could track their combined rotations and move the cursor on the display accordingly. The wheels could function something like the wheels on a planimeter – a tool used by engineers and geographers to measure areas on a map, blueprint, drawing, etc. – but in this case, rolling the wheels around on the tabletop would plot the x,y coordinates for a cursor on a computer screen. He recorded the idea in his notebook for future reference.

A little over a year later, Engelbart was awarded a long-awaited grant at SRI to launch his dream research initiative titled “Augmenting Human Intellect,” for which he envisioned intellectual workers sitting at high-performance interactive display workstations to access a vast online information space in which to collaborate on important challenges. He hired a small research team, and began setting up a basic lab with computer and teletypes, followed by a display terminal.

By now there were several off-the-shelf solutions for moving the cursor and selecting something on a display screen, but no good data about which would be most efficient to meet Engelbart’s “high-performance” requirement. He applied for and was awarded a small grant from NASA to explore that question.

Engelbart and his research staff rounded up best of breed pointing devices, and also rigged up some in-house prototypes to experiment with, such as a foot pedal and a knee-operated device. Engelbart also dug up his earlier notes which he reviewed with his lead engineer Bill English, who built a prototype of the hand-held device with perpendicular wheels mounted in a carved out wooden block, with a button on top, to test with the others. This was the first computer mouse (pictured above and below).

The Mouse Wins

In 1965 Engelbart’s team published their final report evaluating the efficiency of the various screen-selection techniques. They had pitted the mouse against a handful of other devices, some off the shelf, some of their own making (see Mouse Alternatives below). The mouse won hands down, and was thus included as standard equipment in their research moving forward (see Screen-Selection Experiments below for links to key reports and papers detailing these experiments). In 1967, SRI filed for the patent on the mouse, technically termed the “x,y position indicator,” and the patent was awarded in 1970.

the first computer mouse in context - circa 1964
The first mouse plugged into it’s display workstation
– circa 1964 (click to enlarge)

1968 version includes 3-button mouse and 5 key keyset

1968 version includes three-button mouse and five-key
keyset(click to enlarge)

Enter, the Keyset: In the meantime, to further increase efficiency, Engelbart’s team thought to offer a companion to the mouse – a device for the left hand to enter commands or text while the right hand was busy pointing and clicking (shown above). After trying out several variations, they settled on a telegraph-style “keyset” with five keys akin to piano keys, which also became standard equipment in the lab (pictured below). Both devices were introduced to the public in Engelbart’s 1968 demonstration, now known as the “Mother of All Demos” (see Check It Out below for links to selected video footage of the debut, historic photos, and more).

In Doug’s Words:


“The mouse we built for the [1968] show was an early prototype that had three buttons. We turned it around so the tail came out the top. We started with it going the other direction, but the cord got tangled when you moved your arm. I first started making notes for the mouse in ’61. At the time, the popular device for pointing on the screen was a light pen, which had come out of the radar program during the war. It was the standard way to navigate, but I didn’t think it was quite right.

Two or three years later, we tested all the pointing gadgets available to see which was the best. Aside from the light pen there was the tracking ball and a slider on a pivot. I also wanted to try this mouse idea, so Bill English went off and built it.

We set up our experiments and the mouse won in every category, even though it had never been used before. It was faster, and with it people made fewer mistakes. Five or six of us were involved in these tests, but no one can remember who started calling it a mouse. I’m surprised the name stuck.

We also did a lot of experiments to see how many buttons the mouse should have. We tried as many as five. We settled on three. That’s all we could fit. Now the three-button mouse has become standard, except for the Mac.”

– Source: The Click Heard Round The World, by Ken Jordan, WIRED 2004.

Check It Out

stillshot of Doug demonstrating mouse and keyset during 1968 demo Watch the world debut of the mouse (1968)

Watch Doug telling the story of how he invented the mouse in Logitech‘s 2004 interview.

Witness the 1968 debut of the mouse and keyset, and watch the mouse and keyset in action in Doug’s 1968 “Mother of All Demos (see SRI’s 1968 Demo Highlights for more); take a minute to explore the Stanford University MouseSite where you will find images of the first mouse, the US Patent on the Mouse, historic photos from the lab, and much more.

original mouse Visit the online Mouse Exhibit

See also SRI’s timeline on personal computing and the mouse, Macworld’s mouse history timeline, PC Advisor’s 40th anniversary timeline, and our History in Pix photo gallery.

Check out the Computer History Museum‘s online Exhibit on the Mouse and Keyset, as well as press coverage of their 2001 event “Early Computer Mouse Encounters“.

Debunking the “Xerox PARC created the mouse” Myth

The mouse later migrated from Doug’s lab at SRI to Xerox PARC, and then to Apple and others. One of the most common myths about the mouse is the mistaken belief that it was invented at Xerox PARC. Note that the patent for the mouse was filed in 1967, by which time production models were in operational use throughout Doug’s lab, three years before Xerox PARC was established in 1970.

Mouse Alternatives

Engelbart and his team tested a half dozen pointing devices for speed and accuracy. These included the mouse plus a knee apparatus (pictured here on the left), both created in-house, along with several off the shelf devices such as DEC’s Grafacon (pictured here on the right, modified for testing purposes), a joy stick, and light pen. See Screen-Selection Experiments below for links to more details and photos. They also experimented with a foot pedal device as well as a helmet mounted device, neither of which made made it into the final tests.

From Doug Engelbart’s
experiments with pointing devices (mid 1960s)

A knee-operated pointing device

DEC’s hand-operated gyro-stlye “Grafacon”

A small piece of a large vision

In the 1950s, Doug Engelbart set his sights on a lofty goal — to develop dramatically better ways to support intellectual workers around the globe in the daunting task of finding solutions to larger and larger problems with greater speed and effectiveness than ever before imagined. His goal was to revolutionize the way we work together on such tasks. He saw computers, at the time used only for number crunching, as a new medium for advancing the state of the art in collaborative knowledge work. Building on technology available at the time, his research agenda required that his team push the envelope on all fronts: they had to expand the boundaries of display technology and interactive computing and human-computer interface, help launch network computing, and invent hypermedia, groupware, knowledge management, digital libraries, computer supported software engineering, client-server architecture, the mouse, etc. on the technical front, as well as pushing the frontiers in process reengineering and continuous improvement, including inventing entirely new organizational concepts and methodologies on the human front. Engelbart even invented his own innovation strategy for accelerating the rate and scale of innovation in his lab which, by the way, proved very effective. His seminal work garnered many awards, and sparked a revolution that blossomed into the Information Age and the Internet. But as yet we have only scratched the surface of the true potential Engelbart envisioned for dramatically boosting our collective IQ in the service of humankind’s greatest challenges.

See Also

On the Internet

From Doug’s Lab

  • Screen-Selection Experiments: Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation, William K. English, Douglas C. Engelbart and Melvyn L. Berman, March 1967. This paper describes an experimental study into the relative merits of different CRT display-selection devices as used within a real-time, computer-display, text-manipulation system in use at Stanford Research Institute. The mouse was tested against other devices and found to be the most accurate and efficient. See also the 1965 Report and the 1966 Quarterly Report detailing their screen-selection experiments.
  • The Mother of All Demos(90 min Video/Film) Doug’s 1968 debut of the NLS system for online work including hypermedia, the mouse, online collaboration, interactive computing, human computer interface, and overarching guiding principles for the research. See especially Clip 12 where Doug, sitting in San Francisco, brings in a coworker sitting in his lab in Menlo Park, to demonstrate the mouse, and Clip 13 where Doug introduces the keyset. See also our comprehensive portal page to the 1968 Demo for the basic story and links to demo highlights, archive photos and footage, background, articles, and more.
  • Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, Douglas C. Engelbart. 1962. See for example how he envisioned an architect might work interactively with a computer in 1962 in the Introduction’s summary of Section IV (quoted at right).
  • Doug Engelbart – A Lifetime Pursuit, a short biographical sketch by Christina Engelbart describes the larger context of this early work.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers