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A near religious experience

We were promised the “mother of all demos”, the complete Doug Engelbart demo done in 1968, that preceded so many technologies that we are working with today. The video can be seen partially on the net, but we got 90 minutes of raw footage.

Foto by Michael Heilemann

And boy - this really is called “the mother of all demos” for very good reasons. Not only were there the occasional bloopers in the demo, that Doug skirted around nicely, but the stuff showed was and is so far advanced, that even today, it looks modern. There was hyperlinking (not only to documents as we know it, but down to individual objects - word, code, etc), instant messaging, email (or predecessors of it), sharing of screens between workstation and much much more. Watching the demo unfold, seeing how much fun Doug had doing it, one understands that this truly was a near-religious experience for quite a few people.

A good number of people in the audience today were stunned too.

But the best part was the introduction and the Q&A to the demo. None other than Doug Engelbart himself, through the wonders of modern technology, iChat, and the things that evolved out of his works, gave an introduction and answered questions from the audience. At the age of 80 he still has his humor, his spirit and the drive to make the world better - check out the Bootstrap Institute for his current works.

After a long day at reboot, this late night session really was the crowning of many excellent session preceding it.

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Jens-Christian Fischer

Maker. Musician