Douglas Engelbart’s Unfinished Revolution
Computing pioneer Doug Engelbart’s inventions transformed computing, but he intended them to transform humans.
By Howard Rheingold on July 23, 2013
Why It Matters
Engelbart’s ideas revolutionized computing and helped shape the modern world.
Peripheral vision: Engelbart rehearses for the “mother of all demos.”
Doug Engelbart knew that his obituaries would laud him as “Inventor of the Mouse.” I can see him smiling wistfully, ironically, at the thought. The mouse was such a small part of what Engelbart invented.
We now live in a world where people edit text on screens, command computers by pointing and clicking, communicate via audio-video and screen-sharing, and use hyperlinks to navigate through knowledge—all ideas that Engelbart’s Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) invented in the 1960s. But Engelbart never got support for the larger part of what he wanted to build, even decades later when he finally got recognition for his achievements. When Stanford honored Engelbart with a two-day symposium in 2008, they called it “The Unfinished Revolution.”