screenshot of Doug 1968 using hypermedia to easily connect the dots, to link to and zoom in and out of detail, to harness 'new media' in sync with human thought
Watch Doug demonstrate the basics in his epic 1968 demo
Watch mini documentary Navigating Knowledge: Hypermedia Pioneers (Doug Engelbart @ 02:40-03:56)

Historic Firsts:
Hypermedia 0

Overview 1

In 1962, Doug Engelbart published his seminal report Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, in which he documented his earlier epiphanal vision of professionals equipped with interactive computer display screens bombing around an information space of interconnected knowledge. This at a time when computers were used almost exclusively for complex mathematical and scientific functions, and you would load in your instructions, and come back later for the results. The idea of interacting with a computer real-time on a personal level to do your every day planning, thinking, and collaborating was really far out.1a

By 1966 Doug's research lab at Stanford Research Institute was pioneering hypermedia (hyperlinked text, diagrams, messaging, source code, etc.) in a system called NLS. Users could easily link to and zoom in and out of detail on-the-fly, exploiting 'new media' as an extension of human thought. 1b

Doug Engelbart's presentation at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference was a live online hypermedia demonstration of the pioneering work that Engelbart's group had been doing at SRI. Later called "The Mother of All Demos," this historic demonstration paved the way for human-computer interaction. read more

By the end of 1968, we had not only developed the mouse, but also such things as hypertext links, dynamic on-screen editing, and video-conferencing.

Ted Nelson: the Father of "Hypertext" 2

Unbeknownst to Doug and his colleagues working on the West Coast, in 1960 a man by the name of Ted Nelson working on the East Coast coined the term "hypertext" and founded the first hypertext project (Xanadu). Ted is generally considered to be the "Father of Hypertext." 2a

Quoting Vannevar Bush 3

Both Doug and Ted had been inspired by Vannever Bush's 1945 article As We May Think (see our 1995 Bush Symposium event portal for details). Doug quoted Bush extensively in his own 1962 manifesto. 6a

From Vannevar Bush's, As We May Think (1945) included in Engelbart's Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework (1962): 3b

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

"It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.

"In one end is the stored material. [...]

"There is, of course, provision for consultation of the record by the usual scheme of indexing. If the user wishes to consult a certain book, he taps its code on the keyboard, and the title page of the book promptly appears before him, projected onto one of his viewing positions. [...]

"A special button transfers him immediately to the first page of the index. Any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf. As he has several projection positions, he can leave one item in position while he calls up another. He can add marginal notes and comments[...]

"All this is conventional, except for the projection forward of present-day mechanisms and gadgetry. If affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.

"When the user is building a trail, he names it, inserts the name in his code book, and taps it out on his keyboard. Before him are the two items to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing positions. At the bottom of each there are a number of blank code spaces, and a pointer is set to indicate one of these on each item. The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined. In each code space appears the code word. Out of view, but also in the code space, is inserted a set of dots for photocell viewing; and on each item these dots by their positions designate the index number of the other item.

"Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn, rapidly or slowly, by deflecting a lever like that used for turning the pages of a book. It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.

Vannevar Bush, 1945, as quoted by Engelbart in 1962 [Source]

See Also 4

  Image of Historic Firsts chart Click for more Historic Firsts

Explore the Web 4a

  • Visit Historic Firsts - for more of Doug Engelbart's many groundbreaking firsts.
  • Visit Doug's Vision for Humanity - among those Historic Firsts, this describes the larger context of his work.
  • Visit Doug's Great Demo: 1968 - brings to life his early accomplishments with archive footage, photos, fun facts, story, and retrosectives (aka the "Mother of All Demos" – snippets shown above).

From Doug's Lab 4b

From the Press 4a