“Mother of All Demos” by Douglas Engelbart

On December 9th, 1968 Douglas Engelbart finally gave an extended public demonstration of the personal computing system that he and his team had been working on for over five years and planning about for over a decade. The demo, later and rightfully remembered as the “Mother of All Demos“, would present, albeit primitively, nearly every important aspect of modern computing decades before they entered the consciousness of the general public.

The “oN-Line System”, or “NLS”, was a comprehensive hardware/software platform that was designed from the ground-up to provide real-world solutions to common problems. Although known primary as the debut of the computer mouse as a tool to modify on-screen information the demo also incorporated a massive number of other long-lasting innovations. On-screen editing, multi-tasking and window management, hypermedia and object linking, live (and wireless) video teleconferencing and remote presence collaboration were all presented, not as theory, but as full-fledged, working solutions.

Amazingly, considering the massive amount of hardware and custom tools being used, the demonstration went off without technical incident. Granted this was before the invention of the blue-screen. There’s more at MouseSite, dedicated to remembering the history of this amazing work.

 

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