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.

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About the Author:

Cybersecurity analyst, pen-tester, trainer, and speaker. Owner of the WyzCo Group Inc. In addition to consulting on security products and services, Bob also conducts security audits, compliance audits, vulnerability assessments and penetration tests. Bob also teaches Cybersecurity Awareness Training classes. Bob works as an instruction for CompTIA’s non-profit IT-Ready Program in the Twin Cities. IT-Ready is a tuition free 8-week program designed to teach students of all ages the fundamentals of IT support to prepare them for an entry level position in Information Technology Support. Graduates of the classes take the exams to become CompTIA A+ certified. Bob is a frequent speaker at conferences such as the Minnesota Bloggers Conference, Secure360 Security Conference2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, the (ISC)2 World Congress 2016, and the ISSA International Conference 2017, and many local community organizations, including Chambers of Commerce, SCORE, and several school districts. Bob has been blogging on cybersecurity since 2006 at

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