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Special Note on the 50th Anniversary of The Demo

This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doug Engelbart and team's landmark demo. Links:

We're taking the opportunity to look beyond Doug Engelbart's legendary mouse invention and so-called 'Mother of All Demos', look beyond his constellation of breakthrough technological accomplishments that laid the foundation for modern computing, because 50 years on we've barely scratched the surface of what he saw as being most important to society, and what it might take to achieve that. As Bret Victor so astutely wrote:

"The least important question you can ask about Engelbart is, "What did he build?" [] The most important question you can ask about Engelbart is, "What world was he trying to create?"" Bret Victor, 2013 [source]

Doug Engelbart took a fresh look at his goals in 1951, decided to maximize his career for the betterment of mankind, came up with a strategy to research how to dramatically increase the effectiveness of teams, initiatives, and organizations, while also learning how to accelerate progress toward that goal. He reasoned that every initiative and organization working on the toughest challenges could leverage emerging research results to yield more brilliant outcomes, faster, and solve problems heretofor unsoluable. What he was prototyping in his lab was the fast, fluid organization of the future, equipped with rapidly evolving practices and tools, evaluated by a single litmus test: "is this making us more effective and capable, is this raising the collective IQ of the group?" His constant frustrations were (1) people equating other technology that approximated some portion of the system his team was developing, developed with some other (or no) litmus test, without benefit of co-evolving with the organizational advancements, and (2) while missing completely the importance of the strategic approach that framed his research. It was the Bootstrap Strategy he designed and applied to great effect in the 1960s that he considered to be, by far, his most significant achievement. As he predicted, today's organizations are challenged like never before with accelerating change and disruptive forces - some positive, some negative, making the type of strategic thinking he pioneered more crucial than ever. Our goal this year is to be sure Doug Engelbart's message to the future, which he first revealed in 1968, and continued to evolve and articulate throughout his career, can finally be heard. A good resource here is the online Engelbart Academy (it's free).

Press Kit 1

Below are the links most commonly requested by journalists:

  • About Doug Engelbart - a short bio on Doug Engelbart, with links to our 5 page biographical sketch A Lifetime Pursuit which highlights his vision and accomplishments in biographical story form; as well as his Patents, Awards, Curriculum Vitae, Bibliography, Military Record, and more.

  • Top Picks - selected readings and videos posted on our Main Library page are hand-picked representative pieces about Doug and his vision and accomplishments. See also our Library Topic Index where you may find factual information to support your particular topic area.

  • Photos and Videos - for historic video footage see thedemo.org and Engelbart Videography; for photos see History in Pix and Stanford University's MouseSite Photo Gallery. For footage from his most recent management seminars, lectures, interviews, and award acceptance speech see the Engelbart Academy.

  • Engelbart's strategic vision - Doug Engelbart is best known for inventing the mouse and other tools; however his greatest innovations have been in the vision and strategy he devised for bootstrapping the innovation in his lab out of which emerged unprecedented levels of insight and breakthrough innovation. Please also see our Projects section for a glimpse of current and future projects that keep us occupied, if for no other reason than to appreciate that Engelbart's work is not about the past! He has always pointed to the future, 50+ years ahead of his time...

  • Celebratory Events - Doug Engelbart's legendary demo and the accomplishments that represented were celebrated on the 30th, the 40th, the 45th, and (soon to be) the 50th Anniversaries. On the respective celebration websites you'll find links to associated programs, press releases, press articles, etc.

  • Setting the Record Straight - unfortunately many of the press coming before you did not do their homework or check their assertions and have printed incorrect information, which in turn was being picked up by the next wave of journalists and taken as fact. Please help us shift this process and ensure quality and integrity of the press by taking the time to review the above links and check your facts.

Terms of Use 2

The copyrights on most of Doug's historic papers, photos, and video footage are held by other organizations such as SRI International where he conducted his seminal research, or the professional societies and organizations where he presented his papers and talks. Please refer to the copyright information as posted for each item in question. See our Permissions page for specifics.

Contacting Us 3

Please familiarize yourself with the above before you contact the Doug Engelbart Institute and/or write your piece. We spend considerable energy responding to requests from the press, and would very much appreciate this consideration in return.

We also work closely with Press Relations at SRI International where Doug Engelbart conducted his seminal research. To contact them directly via email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or phone 650-859-3845.

Additional Resources 4

For more background, you can use the main menu on our website to navigate the considerable resources available, including vision, initiatives, bigraphical information, writings, video archives, presentations, demos, workshops, panel discussions, topic summaries, etc.




"If the name Douglas C. Engelbart ever comes up on TV's Jeopardy game show, the question doubtless will have been: "Who invented the computer mouse?" In fact, that's hardly Engelbart's only claim. [...]

Ask Engelbart, and he says his life's work is about an even more audacious goal: trying to figure out ways to help the human race solve its increasingly complex problems..."

– Source: A man, a mouse, a mission. By Peter Burrows, Business Week, November 2, 2004.