screenshot of Jeff Rulifson 1968 demonstrating software development in NLS strategic use of the sys­tem for team knowl­edge work, includ­ing soft­ware devel­op­ment, by the team devel­op­ing the system
Watch Jeff demo the online software engineering environment
Watch Doug demo online hardware engineering environment

Historic Firsts:
For Engineering 0

Doug's research team was prototyping a general purpose system for powering the organization of the future, while using it intensively as a team to further its evolution per Doug's design strategy. Serving as a special pilot case, they pursued the future of Knowledge Work, Team Work, and Design Strategy for engineering.

For example each project team, and his research team as a whole, used the system for all aspects of their day to day work: designing, planning, coordinating, project management, intelligence collection (keeping abreast with projects and products outside their group), memos, reports, proposals, documentation, etc. The software team, initially led by Jeff Rulifson, also used NLS for coding, compiling, bug tracking, version management, and organization and navigation of the whole software engineering environment. Similarly the hardware team, led by Bill English, additionally used the system for rough schematics, bug tracking, version management, etc. Later a customer support team extensively used shared screens with end users, and recorded all their customer contacts, user documentation, course development and delivery, and generally coordination and navigation of the customer service environment. Office staff took dictation, transcriptions, and all manner of office support functions online. All in a cross-cutting, unified online environment.

Watch the demos at right, snippets from the Mother of All Demos, where Jeff presented their software engineering environment and methodologies, and Doug presented the hardware engineering, on behalf of Bill English who was behind the scenes orchestrating the demo real time.

Decades later, watch Jeff Rulifson reflecting crucially on what was missed in the demo, and Andy van Dam reflecting on what the demo represented to software engineering (he was in the audience at that demo) --his sentiments quoted in part below:

Their deep and systematic, principled design methodology that these folks used [...] had built tools to build tools, and this whole recursive bootstrap idea, starting with the system itself, and working itself all the way up to Augmenting Human Intellect. It was just mind boggling, and informs us today still.
— Andy van Dam, 2008

For more such reflections, watch this Stanford News report of key takeaways (3min), and browse Reflecting on the Demo at

See Also 3

Explore More Firsts 3a

Papers from Doug's Lab 3b

From the Press 3c