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The best demo anyone’s ever done, or will ever do

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?HM