The “Mother of All Demos”

The Encyclopedia Britannica could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox. A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk.


On December 9, 1968, a research project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense launched a revolution. The focus was not a Cold War adversary or even a resource-rich banana republic, but rather to “augment human intellect,” and the man driving it was not a general, but a mild-mannered engineer named Douglas Engelbart.

It’s hard to fully grasp what happened that day without understanding the context of the time. In those days, very few people ever saw a computer. They were, in large part, mysterious machines to be used only by a select ...

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