Douglas Engelbart during his 1968 demonstration.

Douglas Engelbart during his 1968 demonstration. (credit: SRI International)

A half century ago, computer history took a giant leap when Douglas Engelbart—then a mid-career 43-year-old engineer at Stanford Research Institute in the heart of Silicon Valley—gave what has come to be known as the “mother of all demos.”

On December 9, 1968 at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart showed off the first inklings of numerous technologies that we all now take for granted: video conferencing, a modern desktop-style user interface, word processing, hypertext, the mouse, collaborative editing, among many others.

Even before his famous demonstration, Engelbart outlined his vision of the future more than a half-century ago in his historic 1962 paper, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework.”

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