Video Archives

   Photo of VB
Vannevar Bush

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium 1

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium was hosted at MIT on October 12-13, 1995, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vannevar Bush's seminal article "As We May Think," published in the Atlantic Monthly, July 1945. As a speaker at the event, Doug Engelbart received VHS copies of all the sessions, which later surfaced as part of the Doug Engelbart Video Archives digitization project. In researching the origin of the videos, we were pleased to discover the original conference resources dating back to 1995 still available on the MIT and Brown University websites. An excellent summary description of the event was published in ACM Interactions the following year. See section Additional Resources below for links to more, including a Vannevar Bush timeline, photo gallery, and beautifully produced Memex Animation.

The video archives from the 1995 event are now available online at the Internet Archive, as listed below.

[movies] MC: Andy van Dam   
Intros and Historical Timeline [Bio]
[movies] #1 Paul Kahn
Visual tour of Bush's work [Bio|Memex Animation|Photos]
[movies] #2 Doug Engelbart
The Strategic Pursuit of Collective IQ [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #3 Ted Nelson
Where the Trail Leads [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #4 Bob Kahn
Augmenting Bush's Vision with Digital Technology [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #5 - Tim Berners-Lee
Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny [Abstract|Bio|Text]
[movies] #6 - Michael Lesk
The Seven Ages of Information Retrieval [Abstract|Paper|Bio]
[movies] #7 - Panel Discussion
[movies] #8 - Raj Reddy
Bush's Intelligent Systems Revisited [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #9 - Lee Sproull
Information Is Not Enough: Computer Support for Productive Work [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #10 - Alan Kay
Simex: the neglected part of Bush's Vision [Abstract|Bio]
[movies] #11 - Panel Discussion


Influence on Doug Engelbart 2

   Scanned image of Doug's copy of the article
Doug's copy of the article circa 1962
click here to see the article
(courtesy Computer History Museum)
Map of Philippine island where Doug first encountered the article
Doug read the article in 1945 on Philippine island of Leyte (click to enlarge)

In September 1945, shortly after arriving in the Phillippines to serve as a US Navy radar technician, then twenty year old Doug ran across the latest issue of Life Magazine which included a reprint of Vannevar Bush's article "As We May Think." He found the magazine in a Red Cross library located in a hut on stilts on the island of Leyte. Watch Doug describe his first encounter in his CHM Oral History video. Additional accounts can be found in his Oral History Interview taken at Stanford University (search on "Vannevar Bush").

The article made a big impression on Doug at the time, but did not appear in his work until around 1959 when he began developing his "augmentation framework". He dug up a copy of the article to study in depth (see his notes in the margins in his copy of the article at right), and described it in detail in his seminal 1962 report Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework (beginning at paragraph 3a5), including several quotes from Bush's article.

Also while preparing this Report, Doug wrote a letter to Vannevar Bush, seeking permission to quote his article, outlining his own work, and describing his encounters with Bush's 1945 article. He enclosed a summary description of his work titled "Program On Human Effectiveness". See also Doug's Abstract for his talk at this 1995 Bush Symposium for a glimpse into how his thinking evolved vis-a-vis Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think".

Additional Resources 3