On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session of the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.
Original announcement of the 1968 Demo, courtesy of Christina Engelbart and the Bootstrap Institute. Click for larger view.
100-minute video of this event is part of the Engelbart Collection
in Special Collections of Stanford University. This original
video has been edited into 35 segments and reformatted as Flash
streaming video clips. There is a brief abstract of the subject matter
treated in each segment.
Clip 2: Doug introduction, "if you had a workstation at your disposal all day that was perfectly responsible....or responsive." Doug gives general description of what will happen. The goal of the demo is to show the elements of the program live, rather than to explain what it does.
Word processing beginning with "blank piece of paper," text entry, Illustrates cut, copy, file creation including header with name, date, creator. Doug is shown using keyboard, mouse, and chord keyset.
Example using a file with lists, graphics. Doug show how it is possible to rearrange the items by categories and by invoking hierarchical view control for displaying contents of different levels.
Doug demonstrates capability of NLS to jump between levels in the architecture of a text, making cross references, creating Internal linking and live hyperlinks within a file. Links can be made visible or invisible.
Introduction to next part of the program, shifting from illustrative material to the inner workings of the system that enable a knowledge worker to have this system at his or her disposal all day long.
Clip 10: Doug demonstrates creation of "chains of views," linked to one another. Doug illustrates creation of links and "jumping on a link." Doug Illustrates goals of project, supporting agencies and number of people involved since the beginning. Doug describes the goal of creating a "system oriented discipline": Bootstrapping as an evolutionary strategy for developing and improving the tools by using the system as the basis of the Augment Research Center's daily work practice.
Clip 11: Doug describes the goals of NLS (online system). NLS is an instrument for helping humans operate within the domain of complex information structures. By "operate" Doug means compose, study and modify. By "complex information structures" Doug says that content represents concepts, but there is also a relation between the content of concepts, their structure, and the structure of other domains of human thought that is too complex to investigate in linear text. The computer is a tool for navigating through those structures and examining them in ways that would be too complex otherwise.
Clip 12: This segment discusses control devices, the keyboard and mouse. "I don't know why we call it a mouse. It started that way and we never changed it." The operation principles of the mouse are explained with Bill Paxton being video patched in from SRI in Menlo Park. Doug discusses the tracking spot on the screen and relation between mouse movements and attention focused on the tracking spot.
Clip 15: This segment discusses display systems. Doug switches to Menlo Park where the image of the CRT that is generating the text view on the console image that is being viewed by the audience on the auditorium screen.
Clip 16: Discusses refresh rates and lag times with sweeps of 15 cycles per second, persistent memory in CRT. Slight smearing of "bug" (cursor) for text, but still useful for multiple users sharing screens.
Clip 17: In this segment Doug brings in Jeff Rulifson working at his console in Menlo Park to discuss software design of NLS. Special languages that have enabled the construction of commands, functions. Jeff shows a graphic with links to files explaining parts of the program. He also jumps to a place where programmers leave messages for one another. As an example Rulifson shows documentation and explanation for "move word" and word delimiter commands and the code that executes it. Another programming language described is MOL (machine oriented language).
Clip 19: Rulifson shows how statements are tagged with annotations made by individuals. Search patterns tracing the annotations and links constructed by individuals can be created. (This topic is also discussed in more detail later).
Clip 21: In this segment, Doug explains how the group uses the NLS system. As an example he shows the use of the online documentation in the NLS manual for the system to find definitions, such as What's a bug? What's a mouse?
Clip 22: In this segment Doug illustrates how NLS can be used to construct, collaboratively modify, and ultimately publish reports and papers. He shows how to examine and modify the paper he and his colleagues wrote for this conference, sets formatting for printing, hypertext linking and viewing of document.
Clip 23: Doug explains joint usage and modification of a file by a group. Also in this segment is a discussion of messaging techniques for working collaboratively on a file. A content analyzer is described which can be used to retrieve messages composed by a specific individual, between two individuals, or further specified by specific content strings.
Clip 25: In this segment Doug shifts to two- person collaboration. Doug initiates a "collaborative mode" in which he shares the same text-display with Bill Paxton in Menlo Park and at the same time a live audio-video window inset with Bill Paxton in Menlo Park.
Clip 26: Bill Paxton explains Information retrieval via indirect construction of a catalog. The segment illustrates flexible formatting and line drawing. Paxton draws a picture to explain keyword searching. The segment represents a good example of using the system to work out a course of action collaboratively.
Clip 29: In this segment Bill demonstrates keyword searching and weighting. He goes on to illustrate jumping from the ordered list generated by the keyword search to retrieve the full-content document linked to the keyword. Doug concludes the segment with a recap and summary of the power of keyword weighting, hyperlinking, and full-content retrieval enabled by the system.
Clip 30: In this segment Doug distinguishes between the Service System and the User System. The ARC team distinguishes overall man-computer system into a dichotomy between two systems, the service system and user system.The Service System is what appears at the terminal, the organization of software and hardware the system gives to me, the set of tools and capabilities available when I click on the screen. The user system is what is beyond that. Given these tools, how do we use the links, what are the conventions for leaving messages? How do we use the NLS capabilities to do work? The methods, procedures, skills, and specific concepts people use are all developed in coordination with the kind of tools they have available.
Clip 32: In this segment Doug outlines the participation of ARC in the planned ARPA computer network to be established within the next year (1969), in which 20 different computer sites across the country will be connected in a network. Doug muses that with the planned bandwidth of 20KB per second and delay times with less than one-tenth of a second, he might be able to show the present demo again next year from Boston.
Clip 33: In this segment Doug explains how NLS will be used as the infrastructure for ARPA networks experiment in creating the Network Information Center. Individuals and groups in the Network can query "Who's got what services?" NLS provides the tools to connect different users to appropriate technology. This is an example of enhancing group productivity and augmenting human intellect.
Clip 34: After all this what's the product we're providing in this research? It is a sample augmentation system that is provided to augment computer system development. In addition the aim is to provide tools for generating further, improved augmentation systems--bootstrapping.
Clip 35: Credits of the individuals, agencies and institutions who have provided funding and support for the project. These include the ARC team, Bill English, Ed van de Viet, Martin Hardy, Roger Bates, John Farbodough, Dave Evans, Don Andrews, Jeff Rulifson, Bill Paxton and support from SRI staff, Steward Brand, Air Force, ARPA. Doug also thanks Herman Miller Research Company part of Herman Miller furniture company for creating office environments, desks, and the operating and display consoles.