This is cool.

VentureBeat alerted me to the death of the creator of the mouse, Doug Engelbart, which is a shame (although he was 88). What I didn’t know about was his famous 1968 demo/presentation, which is one of the founding bases for all GUI’s that came since. It basically revolutionized what people imagined a computer could be capable of:

At the time of his demo in December, 1968 — since referred to as the Mother of All Demos because of its scope and influence — computers were used primarily for computing and tabulating mostly numeric data.

Like Steve Jobs and Apple after him, Engelbart had the vision to not only describe what computers might be capable of, like a science fiction writer would, but to actually show it off in this “Mother of All Demo’s.” To put it another way, he didn’t just help people foresee the future, he helped them actually see it.

Skip to 54:00 and check it out for a few minutes. Along with a mouse, they basically demonstrate hyperlinks, which seems pretty blase now, but if you can imagine what computers were like in 1968 – “impersonal boxes that read punched cards, whir[red] awhile, then spit out reams of teletype paper,” according to Wired, this demonstration must have been absolutely otherworldly. He also shows off things like windows and version control and text and graphics on the same screen. This is mind-altering stuff. It just wasn’t what people thought of.

There’s a great breakdown of all the individual sections of the demo here:, that’s at least worth scrolling through to get a sense of how amazing this video really was, and how impactful.

Early hip hop lyrics?

Engelbart was working to improve the interaction of people and computers–basically, trying to make people work better and smarter through technology.

While most computer scientists concentrated on making computers smart (artificial intelligence), Engelbart was interested in how computers could make humans smarter, or what he called augmented intelligence.

Our company has a much, much smaller goal, but one that I think Engelbart would appreciate. If a computer can do the hard work for you, why not make programming easier? Why not allow anyone to create their own applications? Why not show people that they can do more with computers by showing them the future instead of just telling them about it.

Apparently Arthur C. Clarke, the famous sci-fi writer of 2001: A Space Odyssey, came by the lab where this demo and computer tech was being created, and after they showed him what it did, he said, “I write all kinds of things about the science fiction future, but I never thought of anything like this!”

I like to think that it’s our job here at Seth Turin Media, Inc, to present ideas that no one has thought of yet. Our goal isn’t financial success, but changing the world.


– Seth

Published by Seth Turin

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