David Schmudde / Dec 09 2018

Demo @ 50

Doug Engelbart's Mother of All Demos is 50 Years Old

Doug Engelbart saw the future as a world of networked, collaborative, interactive computers. His 1968 demonstration will feel prescient to anyone who has ever visited a website, used a mouse, or edited a document on the cloud.

The demo was realized by researchers at Doug Engelbart's Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute. His principle goal was the augmentation of human intellect. The byproduct was a list of groundbreaking achievements in computing which include the mouse, windows, hypermedia, file sharing, teleconferencing, and more.

The original poster announcing Engelbart's 1968 presentation

What's Next?

The better we get at getting better, the faster we will get better.

~ Doug Engelbart

Engelbart is widely celebrated for his achievements in 1968, but much of what he demonstrated has yet to be realized. The Doug Engelbart Institute describes a journal where entries are created and updated via robust version control - immutable articles where every change is recorded. This encapsulates the essential functionality of Nextjournal.

The team at Nextjournal strives to realize the vision of a digital knowledge platform that Engelbart describes. We believe in open science, and our platform intends to empower researchers and data scientists working towards those ends. The tools of knowledge should enable collaboration and sharing - a fact that Engelbart manifests fifty years ago in The Mother of All Demos.


But no one ever had such a soaring view of human potential as Douglas Carl Engelbart — and he gave us wings to soar with him, though his mind flew on ahead, where few could see.

~ Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson, the visionary who inspired us to develop transclusions, gave a eulogy for his friend Doug Engelbart in 2013. His poetic remembrance illustrates how far ahead of his time Engelbart was - and remains still.

The Mother of all Demos can be viewed in its entirety. The entire 100 minute version can be watched in its entirety at the Internet Archive.

For a broad overview, Bret Victor, another influence on the team at Nextjournal , worked with several other information architects to create an interactive guided tour of the demo.