Engineering Science Division

12 June 1961

Proposal for Research
SRI No. ESU 61-92
Extension of Contract AF 49(638)-1024


Prepared for
Air Force Office of Scientific Research
Washington 25, D.C.

Prepared by
Douglas C. Engelbart
Senior Research Engineer
Computer Techniques Laboratory


[personal signature of]

J. Reid Anderson, Manager
Computer Techniques Laboratory

[personal signature of]

Jerre D. Noe, Director
Engineering Sciences Division

Copy No. 41




Proposal for Research




a. Project Title: The Augmented Human Intellect: Search for a Framework

b. Organization: Stanford Research Institute Menlo Park, California

Charles F. Hilly, Jr.
Manager, Contract Relations


c. Principal Investigator: Douglas C. Engelbart


d. Total Estimated Cost: The total cost for one year of the proposed project extension is $26,924. This amount covers somewhat less than onehalf the total cost of the work out-lined in the brief below. An equal amount of work in this field is being performed by the Institute as part of its General Research Program.


e. Preferred Starting Date and Estimated Duration: This proposal covers the extension of the present Contract AF 49(638)-1024 (SRI ESU 3578) from March 1,1962 to March 1, 1963. Work could commence on the extension on March 1,1962.


f. Brief: The proposed research is a Search Project concerned with determining the range of subject matter or framework within which comprehensive consideration could be given to the problem of making humans more effective as problem solvers and to try to utilize the above mentioned framework in providing perspective for a coordinated attack upon this problem.




The objective of this project is to establish a conceptual frame-work within which a coordinated research and development program could grow, whose goals would be the following: (1) to find the factors that limit the effectiveness of the human individual's basic information handling capabilities in meeting the various needs of society for problem solving in its most general sense, and (2) to develop new systems of techniques, procedures, tools, etc. that will better match these basic capabilities to the needs or problems of society.



In order to better understand the project proposed here it is important that we first review the overall objectives and motivations of the Augmented Human Intellect Research Program at SRI.


A.Discussion of Overall Research Program on the Augmented Human



The Augmented Human Intellect Program which is expected to grow out of this project must be both large and multi-disciplinary to achieve its objective. In order to successfully launch a program of this size it is necessary to first initiate a search phase to organize the conceptual framework and provide the guidance for the overall program. This first phase, which we shall hereafter refer to as the Search Project, is the work that is presently being supported jointly by AFOSR and the SRI General Research Program. It is the continuation of this search phase for which we are explicitly asking support in this proposal.


The objective of the Augmented Human Intellect Program is to improve the intellectual effectiveness of men in their pursuit of solutions to the problems of society.


Our motivations in attempting to improve the effectiveness of these problem-solvers stems from two facts: (a) that we recognize a growing threat to society and (b) we see a likely escape from that threat. The threat may be described as the problems facing the key problem solvers and decision makers of our society (e.g., the key executives, those in military decision and command positions, adminis-trators, legislators, researchers) are growing in complexity and urgency at an appalling rate, while the capabilities of these individuals (as a class) are being increased much more slowly if at all. We feel that the gap between the complexity and urgency of these problems, and the human capacity for solving these problems cannot get too much larger without disastrous results. Thus it seems very important that better means be developed for allowing men to make use of their natural (mental) resources in facing their problems. We feel that there are very good reasons to expect to be able to improve significantly the problem-solving capability of our key people.


Two considerations support our optimism toward improving the problem solving capabilities of the individual. First, many types of equipment being developed by our technology offer unplumbed possibilities for automatic-symbol-manipulation when utilized in a close-coupled working relationship with the human. Among these types of equipment are of course teaching machines and digital computers with their many possible types of input (including automatic audio and visual pattern recognition and various types of sensory keyboard) and output (which may range from complex video displays and high-speed printers to other sensory outputs to humans). It is interesting to note that even with the progress which has been made in large systems of information handling, when the information upon which a decision is to be made or a problem to be solved is brought to the individual, he has little more than he had a hundred years ago to aid him in the manipulating process essential for his gaining comprehension, isolating key problems and implementing solutions.


Secondly, we have hopes for increasing man's information-handling capabilities even apart from equipment considerations. The means by which we reduce problems into sub-problems, and by which we organize the basic cognitive powers of the human mind for attack upon the sub-problems have been evolved over a long period of time. The factors which affected the evolution of these methods have in many cases lost their relevance or disappeared from the environment, so that the complex system of abstractions, tools and artifacts, organizations, and procedures which we bring to bear upon our problems is very likely to be loaded with anachronistic inconsistencies that unnecessarily limit our effectiveness in modern environments. This leads us to believe that means to increase the human's problem solving capabilities might be uncovered by a critical examination of his way of doing things, even were there no possibilities of introducing revolutionary types of equipment into his domain.


The fact that we do foresee the possibility of introducing new equipments only reinforces our feeling that his entire working domain should be examined. Thus, in meeting the objectives of this program, we should wish to examine this working domain, viewed as a symbol-manipulation system composed of the individual and his complex of tools, 1anguages, methods, skills, etc. This latter complex we view as a cultural development whose function is to match the basic mental capabilities of the human to the problems faced within the culture. We often refer to this complex as the augmentation means, and for explicitness we shall speak of the Individual Symbol Manipulation System (or simply, ISM System) when we refer to the functional system composed of an individual and his augmentation means.


The improvements which we seek in our ISM System must come primarily from changes in the augmentation means, and our innovations must either replace or be compatible with the existing augmentation means. The three basic categories into which these different augmentation means seem to fall are: Language (conceptualization and symbolization), Artifacts (man-made things to be used in the System), and Methodology (techniques, procedures, organization). By this categorization, our open-ended job of engineering improvements into the System is a succession of making coordinated innovations in these three areas, training the human to use these new means, and evaluating the effectiveness of the results. Development of this categorization leads to helpful organization of the Search activity.


We should note parenthetically that, when improvements appear in the individual's System, similar engineering applied to organizations of people (actually, organizations of Systems) will become very profitable in terms of increasing the problem-solving capability of groups. In other words, we believe that perhaps the most fruitful way to approach the problem-solving difficulties of organizations, groups, and even nations, is first to improve the most basic module of meaningful symbol handling activity (the individual) and to work from there toward providing better systems of these modules.

We find it useful to consider the future program as being composed of three functional parts which we label respectively Analysis, Synthesis, and Search. A brief description of these will help bring out the role of the proposed project work (which provides, essentially, the Search function).


We know that, in order to study this key-type problem-solving individual in his working domain, we shall need to develop techniques for analyzing ISM Systems. The development and application of these techniques will be called the Analysis function of the Program. This will be basically different from laboratory analysis of a human--we are concerned here with analysis of a symbol-manipulating (information pro-cessing) system which is in the process of engineering development. Knowledge available from more basic studies in analysis of human char-acteristics will most certainly be valuable here.


The Synthesis function embodies the fundamental purpose of the whole research program, that is to synthesize new and improved developments in the ISM System. Techniques from Analysis will guide this Synthesis function, and will provide evaluation of trial developments. Just as in the engineering of improved systems of any type, where the purpose is to get improved performance in spite of limitations in the basic understanding of utilized phenomena, we expect innovations for our ISM System to be hypothesized, implemented and tested at times without benefit of full understanding of the "theory behind the phenomena."


The Search function will essentially be the backbone of the Program. Its function will develop somewhat as follows: First it will develop a rough conceptual framework upon which to base practical consideration of the objectives of the Program. Here we shall have a reasonable idea of the form of the overall structure, and will have concentrated upon salient features to the extent that actual Program activity in Analysis and Synthesis can be launched with reasonable goals. Second, the Search function will continue refining the conceptual structure so that long-range guidance can be provided to the Program--for instance, bringing out the fact that certain knowledge will be very important in a certain future stage, and that research in a particular discipline, with particular goals, could be launched now to provide this knowledge. Third, the structure will continually need modification as new developments from Program activity are integrated and accomodated.


As we stand now, we have no other activity under way besides Search. A framework is growing within which a reasonable long-range view can be developed, and by the end of the first year's work we should have developed a set of goals toward which the rest of the program could be launched in a manner consistent with long-range prospects.


B. Discussion of the Proposed Search Project


The principal effort in the second year of Search activity will be the continued development of the conceptual structure, with subsidiary attention given to guidance of a growing Program. We might compare this activity with that of the scouting that must be done for development of a previously unexplored geographical region. A strong feeling can exist that this region would be very profitable to develop, but before beginning actual development of the region we need to obtain a rough map of it, including basic details of principal resources, terrain features, and travelway possibilities. (Our first year of Search provides the rough map.) With this rough map, some basic developmental work can be begun, and the scouting activity can work at refining the map and guiding the developing parties. (This compares with the second year of Search.) Longer-range developmental projects would await results of this further, more detailed scouting work.

The method of approach for this second year will be much like that of the first year. Detailed activity is practically impossible to predict very far in advance, but the nature of the activity will most likely be the cycles of conjecture, literature search, study, argument, model building, criticism, questioning experts in different fields, etc., that characterize our work to date. We shall probably want to continue seminar-type of activity, too, since this proves stimulating and fruitful. We have a growing list of people about the country who have shown sufficient interest in this study to suggest our tying them together with some kind of informal newsletter correspondence system, which might be a very worthwhile effort (stimulation, criticism, etc.)


All of this activity will center itself upon the growing collection of models, concepts, hypotheses, empirical data, and the like, all linked together meaningfully to form a "conceptual framework." This framework is to encompass all aspects of the Individual Symbol Manipulation System (a human and his augmentation means) that are relevant to its being an effective solver of society's problems. Development of such a framework is obviously an open-ended job--continued Search work can help the well ordered growth of the skeleton, and the rest of the Program work can provide the associated skin, muscle, and vital organs.




There is a vast amount of "background" material relevant to the objectives of the program in question, within many established disciplines. It is essentially the purpose of this project to sift such relevant material from the contributions of these different disciplines and to integrate it into an organized background, upon which can be based the research toward making humans more effective in their overall approach to solving problems. As far as we know now, there is no other work going on elsewhere that pursues this project objective--i.e., to integrate the concepts necessary to coordinate an overall approach toward developing innovations that will make humans better able to solve human problems.




Stanford Research Institute shall, during the period of time specified, furnish the necessary personnel, facilities, supplies and materials to conduct research (or search) in the general field of Augmented Human Intellect Studies, and specifically shall investigate and submit reports in accordance with the following research items:


A. Analyze factors involved in matching basic human capabilities to the direct and meaningful control of complex information handling processes as associated with practical human problem solving in a general sense.

B. Analyze and evaluate areas where improved matching seems possible.




This proposal will remain in effect until 31 December 1961. If consideration of this proposal requires a longer period, the Institute will be glad to consider a request for an extension in time.




The estimated time required to complete this project and report its results is twelve (12) months. The Institute could begin work within one month after receipt of an executed contract. The estimated maximum charges for this project are $26,924. A cost breakdown is included in Sec. 10 of this proposal.




It is requested that any contract resulting from this proposal be awarded under Basic Agreement AF 33(600)-7435 between the United States Air Force and Stanford Research Institute. It is requested that any contract resulting from the proposal be awarded on a cost-plus-fixed-fee basis.




Research on the proposed project would be carried on primarily by the following professional personnel:


Engelbart, Douglas C. - Senior Research Engineer,
Computer Techniques Laboratory


Dr. Engelbart received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Oregon State College in 1948. In 1953 he received the E.E. degree from the University of California; his thesis described the logical design and programming of a drum-type general-purpose computer to obtain increased flexibility and speed by optimizing the utilization of the electronic register capacity. In 1955 he received a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering, also from the University of California; his thesis dealt with the development of special gas-discharge tubes for computer usage. While studying at the University of California he was an Associate in Electrical Engineering. He became an Assistant Professor in 1955-1956.


From 1948 to 1951 Dr. Engelbart was an Electrical Engineer in the Electrical Section at the Ames Laboratory at Moffett Field, California. In 1955-1956 he was a consultant to Marchant Research, Inc., Oakland, who were carrying on development work on patents they had bought from Dr. Engelbart. In 1956 he formed and directed a corporation, Digital Techniques, Inc., which, in 1956-1957, did further development work on his inventions. In October 1957 Dr. Engelbart joined the staff of Stanford Research Institute, where he has been concerned with basic developmental work on magnetic components for computers and with information retrieval problems.


His fields of specialty include circuits, special components, logical design, and programming of digital computers; vacuum and gas discharge techniques; large inter-communication systems; wind tunnel drive and control systems; electromechanical control systems; and information retrieval systems.


Dr. Engelbart is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, Sigma Tau, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, Eta Kappa Nu, the Institute of Radio Engineers, the IRE Professional Group on Electronic Computers, and the IRE Solid State Circuits Subcommittee 4.10, and Chairman (1959-1960) of the San Francisco Chapter of IRE PGEC.


Mr. Lincicome, Donald C. - Research Engineer,
Computer Techniques Laboratory

Mr. Lincicome received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois in 1953. From 1953 to 1956 he was employed by the Bell Telephone Laboratories at Whippany, New Jersey, working on radar systems design, antenna design and measurements, and




microwave components design. From 1956 to 1958 he served in the U.S. Air Force, assigned to the National Security Agency, where he was concerned with Computer programming, computer system design, and information retrieval.

Since joining the staff of Stanford Research Institute in January, 1958, Mr. Lincicome has been concerned with the design of a magnetic tape-to-tape converter and with the design of a man-machine system for analog signal-to-paper tape transcription. He has in addition directed a data processing study involving the compatible operation of two large, diverse, data collection systems with a central data reduction system.


Mr. Lincicome is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and the Institute of Radio Engineers.







 Personal Costs

 Senior Research Engineer, 5.7 man-months $8,520
 Editing, 1/2 man-month  $300
 Lab Assistant, 5.6 man-months  $2,520
 *Total Direct Labor  $11,340
 **Overhead Allowance at 100%  
 of Total Direct Labor  $11,340
 Total Personnel Costs  $22,680
 Direct Costs  
 Travel and Subsistence  $870
 Materials and Supplies  $300
 Telephone and Telegraph  $50
 Report Costs  $1,500
 Total Direct Costs  $2,720
 Fixed Fee at 6% of Total Estimated  
 Contract Cost  $1,524

*Included in direct labor are all salary base costs such as vacation, holiday, and sick leave pay, social security taxes, and contributions to employee benefit plans.

**The overhead rate quoted represents current cost experience. It is requested that the contract provide for reimbursement at this rate on a provisional basis, subject to the retroactive adjustment to fixed rates negotiated on the basis of historical cost data in accordance with ASPR 3-704. It is also requested that any contract resulting from this proposal provide for the determination of costs in accordance with ASPR Chapter XV, Part 2, dated November 2, 1959. The contract should also specifically provide for the inclusion of general research costs as an allowable indirect expense to the extent determined reasonable.