Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Doug Engelbart has died
July 3, 2013 12:05 PM   Subscribe

Reports abound that Douglas Engelbart most famous for creating the computer mouse and for demoing much of what we take for granted in desktop computing in 1968's Mother of All Demos (YT), died last night at age 88.

Previously on MeFi: Mother of All Demos, Modern computing born... film at 11 Engelbart's Violin
posted by artlung (68 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
[click.]
posted by DigDoug at 12:06 PM on July 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:06 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by grubi at 12:07 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by stenseng at 12:09 PM on July 3, 2013


. <--
posted by smidgen at 12:10 PM on July 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by furtive at 12:10 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:15 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by mogget at 12:16 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by action man bow-tie at 12:17 PM on July 3, 2013


Doug Engelbart Institute and many Videos featuring Engelbart to review some of his legacy. An incredible pioneer. Fun fact: his patent on the mouse expired in 1987, before computer mice usage was widespread. This short interview implies he didn't have the patent, Stanford Research Institute did, and Apple licensed it for $40,000.
posted by artlung at 12:19 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by parki at 12:20 PM on July 3, 2013


.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Much like the loss of Dennis Ritchie a couple years ago, we've lost a person whose influence was out of all proportion to his fame.
posted by edheil at 12:22 PM on July 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


<:3)~
posted by saulgoodman at 12:22 PM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wonder if you actually count buttons pressed or time spent using if there is anything I use as much as the mouse. I really can't think of anything that comes close. Maybe a keyboard but probably not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:22 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:24 PM on July 3, 2013


[sound off]
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:27 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by ariel_caliban at 12:27 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by tommasz at 12:30 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by jwells at 12:33 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by /\/\/\/ at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:37 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by juv3nal at 12:39 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by trip and a half at 12:40 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:46 PM on July 3, 2013


This is a sad day. Douglas Engelbart was a visionary in the concrete application of computers to solving human problems in the way Da Vinci was towards human anatomy. It's been nearly 45 years since he (and Bill English) gave The Demo, and yet we've only achieved the most shallow of realizations of what was envisioned for humanity. The thin veneer of understanding.

I still watch The Demo almost once a year, simply to remind myself of how far we yet have to travel on this road to harnessing technology to augment human creativity. To this day, it is as though we are still trying to unravel the pronouncements of the Oracle at Delphi, and yet they are there, laid bare for us all, if only we might seize them.

Douglas Engelbart is in my pantheon, along with Alan Kay of individuals for whom the title "visionary" is simply a statement of fact, and not some marketing phrase. It is worth reviewing some of the words from the 40th anniversary of Engelbart's unfinished revolution.
posted by petrilli at 12:47 PM on July 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


"I'm just going to imagine that he's running in the background with no terminal attached."
posted by weston at 12:55 PM on July 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


.
posted by rahnefan at 12:57 PM on July 3, 2013


I had read just last week that he was no longer accepting requests for interviews and wondered if his health had declined.

Engelbart was a man of extraordinary insight.
posted by grimjeer at 1:11 PM on July 3, 2013


Douglas C. Engelbart, Inventor of the Computer Mouse, Dies at 88 - NYTimes
posted by artlung at 1:12 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by homodigitalis at 1:16 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:26 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by jeffkramer at 1:27 PM on July 3, 2013


My girlfriend assisted on a photo shoot of Engelbart a few years back. She said he was a sweetheart (and a bit of a flirt).

.
posted by brundlefly at 1:31 PM on July 3, 2013


Here is Howard Rheingold's description of Doug Engelbart's career.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 1:31 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow.

.
posted by mikel at 1:44 PM on July 3, 2013


BTW, here's a nice image of the man and his mouse.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:52 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:58 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:00 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by bonaldi at 2:09 PM on July 3, 2013


I ended up accidentally for a going away party at a restaurant (Top of the Mark in SF I think) he was celebrating his birthday at a few years ago in San Francisco. The cover band playing songs, including happy birthday and then a version of "Twist and Shout" but changed the words to something like "Click and Shout" or "Point and Click" of something like that.

Surreal but great.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:12 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


1 STATEMENT RIP
2 STATEMENT GOTO 1
posted by fatbaq at 3:01 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 3:03 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by Mister Bijou at 3:04 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by oonh at 3:11 PM on July 3, 2013



posted by 1367 at 3:19 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems like a clearer video than the one in the original post, and is the complete 100+ minutes in a single stream.
posted by nev at 3:24 PM on July 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:29 PM on July 3, 2013


For those not up on the history of computer peripherals, it should be mentioned that Engelbart's mouse wasn't like the mouse you use now. It had five buttons, and you could type with it by chording fingers. I once had the pleasure of seeing Engelbart and Alan Kay give a talk together about the history of personal computers, and they both agreed that once people got the hang of it, they were able to work quicker using the five-button mouse (you point where you want to make a change, and instead of just clicking you could actually start executing commands without having to return your hand to the keyboard.)

But it's not just the mouse. The Mother of All Demos introduced so much more; stuff that must have seemed downright miraculous, even extraterrestrial, to the people in the audience. Engelbart was mainly concerned with accelerating human intelligence, and built the tools - versions of which we use now - for that purpose. Instead of thinking of Engelbart as the "Father of the Mouse", think of him as the "Father of the Future". Extraordinary man.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:14 PM on July 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


My Logitech G300 has nine buttons, if you count the wheel-click...
posted by thewalrus at 4:27 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by aerotive at 4:32 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by danherwig at 5:18 PM on July 3, 2013


The 5-key thing was separate from the mouse, IIRC, so you had one hand on your 5-key thing and the other on the mouse. Really cool. I wish it had caught on.

The "Mother of All Demos" video is fascinating and absolutely worth watching, or at least skipping through. It's incredible how far ahead they were, conceptually.
posted by a birds at 5:56 PM on July 3, 2013


Just last week, I was reading this over and over again, and actually contemplating building my own peripherals.

It is impossible to describe how badly we've failed his vision.
posted by mhoye at 6:31 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 5-key thing was separate from the mouse, IIRC, so you had one hand on your 5-key thing and the other on the mouse.

Right you are. I had the two mixed in my mind. But the mouse itself had three buttons.

All of that was abandoned in favor of a more simple, more usable version, so people could be comfortable with it right away. But we're all power users now, aren't we? If 12 year old girls can text long messages quickly with their thumbs, how much faster could we go if we used all five fingers?
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:18 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:23 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by condour75 at 8:20 PM on July 3, 2013


A few words on Doug Engelbart by Bret Victor. Bret gives an explanation of what Engelbart was trying to accomplish and why "inventor of the mouse" overlooks so much.
posted by Gary at 8:38 PM on July 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


@

I met Doug Englebart a few times - a sweet, humble man. I'm devoting every one of the letters written in this brief ode to Doug Englebart, a truly great man and gifted inventor. Without Doug, this moment would not have been possible. You continue to live on, in every click, and in the lives of those you influenced. Always present! Rest in Peace!
posted by Vibrissae at 9:05 PM on July 3, 2013


Imagine you invented paper, then the pen, then libraries, then books. And you didn't make a big deal out of it. And you waited decades for the rest of the world to catch up, which they still haven't.

Along with Ted 'Theodore' Nelson, one of the greats who saw computers as extensions of minds, not magnifiers of maths.

A five-fingered, chorded salute to you, sir.
posted by davemee at 10:21 PM on July 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by sp160n at 11:36 PM on July 3, 2013


.
posted by marienbad at 12:23 AM on July 4, 2013


.

Another Titan from the early age passes...

So shall we all.

~#/
posted by PROD_TPSL at 12:33 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Chording keyboard (see previous FPP) that he demoed along with the mouse is still a pretty good input device - especially for those on the move. It has had many false starts in terms of popular acceptance but I predict its time will come.

RIP to a great inventor and visionary.
.
posted by rongorongo at 1:31 AM on July 4, 2013


<@~
posted by Cranberry at 1:56 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 AM on July 4, 2013


.

I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him talk a few times. He was inspiring, humble, and kind, and it was heart wrenching to hear how disappointed he was at humanity's progress regarding our ability to understand and solve our problems. He had thought we would have been much further ahead, but clearly we are still in need of augmentation.
posted by bouvin at 8:42 AM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by mistersquid at 11:09 PM on July 4, 2013


« Older Live from Tahrir Square courtesy BitTorrent Live...  |  The Fourteen Greatest Action F... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments