Sunday Funnies – The Mother of All Demos

This post is funny only from the standpoint of “it’s funny how things turn out” or “its funny how big things start in small places.”  More of a history lesson – but please bear with me and read on.

From the Stanford University website:

“On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session of the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration  involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.”

We wrote about this demo earlier this year, but today is the actual 50th anniversary of what has been called “The Mother of all Demos.”  You can watch the full 90 minute demo or 3 30-minutes YouTube videos.  The Stanford website offer the video as 35 clips broken down by topic.

Some of the concepts he demonstrated would not appear commercially for another 20 years.

  • Networking – His computer was connected by specially run cables to other computers 30 miles away.  Nothing like this had ever been done before.  The next year, in 1969, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) would unveil the ARPAnet, which was the precursor of what we now call the Internet.
  • The Mouse – Engelbart and another engineer, Bill English created a new wheeled pointing device that they called “the mouse.”  Englebart used the mouse in his presentation.
  • The Display or Monitor – The words they typed into the computer were displayed on a projection screen for the first time.
  • Collaboration – Engelbart demonstrated how two or more people connected by networked computers could work together on the same project over a great distance.
  • Word Processing – Engelbart demonstrated typing words and correcting errors using a new feature – the DELETE key.

This comment by Compte Prive on YouTube sums it up perfectly.

this should be celebrated as one of those moments in history when someone steps out of relative obscurity and destroys EVERYTHING. This is like Einstein’s Miracle year, or the publication of The Origin of Species. This is absolutely epochal. How could they have put together all that technology, HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE in one working system? The vision it must have took to assemble all the disparate technologies into this is beyond comprehension.

More information:


About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Serving small business owners in the St Paul, Minneapolis, and western Wisconsin area since 2001. Cybersecurity and hacking have been a passion of mine since I entered the computer and networking business in 2000. I hold several cybersecurity certifications including Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Advanced Security Pratitioner (CASP), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). Other computer industry certifications include A+, Network+ and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE). As Cybersecurity Analyst at The WyzCo Group, I help our clients experience high levels of security on their computers, networks, and websites. In addition to consulting on security products and services, we also conduct security audits, vulnerability assessments and full penetration tests. We also work with companies and organizations that need to certify compliance with regulations such as PCI-DSS (credit card processing), HIPAA/HITECH (medical records), and GLBA. We also provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training for clients and their employees. I am a frequent speakers at cybersecurity conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference, the (ISC)2 World Congress, and the ISSA International Conference, and many local community organizations, Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. I have been blogging on cybersecurity since 2008.

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