At Facebook’s F8 conference, head of product Chris Cox warmed my heart by talking at length about the “mother of all demos,” the astonishing presentation which Douglas Engelbart gave at a San Franciso computing conference in 1968. Engelbart, best known today as the inventor of the mouse, showed his pointing device; a graphical user interface with windows; word processing; video conferencing; and other technologies which were mind-bending in the 1960s and which only became mainstream in the 1980s and beyond.
If you’ve never seen video of his presentation, it’s worth making time for. Here it is:
“Visionary” is one of the most overused terms in tech, but it almost seems insufficient to explain just what Doug Engelbart was. And with apologies to Steve Jobs, I don’t think anyone’s ever topped his 1968 presentation. It’s spellbinding today; can you imagine what it must have been like to witness in person almost a half century ago?