DOUGLAS C. ENGELBART, 1925-2013
Douglas C. Engelbart, Inventor of the Computer Mouse, Dies at 88
July 05, 2013
Douglas C. Engelbart was 25, just engaged to be married and thinking about his future when he had an epiphany in 1950 that would change the world.
He had a good job working at a government aerospace laboratory in California, but he wanted to do something more with his life, something of value that might last, even outlive him. Then it came to him. In a single stroke he had what might be safely called a complete vision of the information age.
The epiphany spoke to him of technology’s potential to expand human intelligence, and from it he spun out a career that indeed had lasting impact. It led to a host of inventions that became the basis for the Internet and the modern personal computer. Among them was something he called “the bug.”
In later years, it was given a more warmhearted name, evoking a small, furry creature given to scurrying across flat surfaces: the computer mouse.
Dr. Engelbart died on Tuesday at 88 at his home in Atherton, Calif. His wife, Karen O’Leary Engelbart, said the cause was kidney failure.
Computing was in its infancy when Dr. Engelbart entered the field. Computers were ungainly room-size calculating machines. Someone would feed them information in stacks of punched cards and then wait hours for a printout of answers. Interactive computing was a thing of the future, or in science fiction. But it was germinating in Dr. Engelbart’s restless mind.
In his epiphany, he saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols — an image most likely derived from his work on radar consoles while in the Navy after World War II. The screen, he thought, would serve as a display for a workstation that would organize all the information and communications for a given project.
It was his great insight that progress in science and engineering could be greatly accelerated if researchers, working in small groups, shared computing power. He called the approach “bootstrapping” and believed it would raise what he called their “collective I.Q.”
A decade later, during the Vietnam War, he established an experimental research group at Stanford Research Institute (later renamed SRI and then SRI International called Augmentation Research Center, known as ARC. In the main, computing industry professionals regarded Dr. Engelbart as a quixotic outsider.
In December 1968, however, he set the computing world on fire with a remarkable demonstration before more than a thousand of the world’s leading computer scientists at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. Dr. Engelbart was developing a raft of revolutionary interactive computer technologies and chose the conference as the proper moment to unveil them.
For the event, he sat on stage in front of a mouse, a keyboard and other controls and projected the computer display onto a 22-foot-high video screen behind him. In little more than an hour, he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing.
In contrast to the mainframes then in use, a computerized system Dr. Engelbart created, called the oNLine System, or NLS, allowed researchers to share information seamlessly and to create and retrieve documents in the form of a structured electronic library.
The conference attendees were awe-struck. In one presentation, Dr. Engelbart demonstrated the power and the potential of the computer in the information age. The technology would eventually be refined at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Apple and Microsoft would transform it for commercial use in the 1980s and change the course of modern life.
Years later, people in Silicon Valley still referred to the presentation as “the mother of all demos.” And it was the mouse, at least at first, that made the biggest impression.
Douglas Carl Engelbart was born in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 25, 1925, to Carl and Gladys Engelbart. He spent his formative years on a farm in suburban Portland and attended Oregon State College. Toward the end of World War II, he was drafted. He spent two years in the Navy, one of them in the Philippines, as a radar technician.
After returning to Oregon State and graduating, he was hired to work at Ames Research Center, a government aerospace laboratory in California. While there, working as an electronics technician, he saw how aerospace engineers started with small models of their designs and then scaled them up to full-size airplanes.
The idea of scaling remained with him. After getting his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, he wrote a seminal paper on the importance of scaling in microelectronics. He grew convinced that computers would quickly become more powerful. He was proved right.
The idea for the mouse — a pointing device that would roll on a desk — occurred to Dr. Engelbart in 1964 while he was attending a computer graphics conference. He was musing about how to move a cursor on a computer display.
When he returned to work, he gave a copy of a sketch to William English, a collaborator and mechanical engineer at SRI, who, with the aid of a draftsman, fashioned a pine case to hold the mechanical contents.
The importance of Dr. Engelbart’s networking ideas was underscored in 1969, when his Augment NLS system became the application for which the forerunner of today’s Internet was created. The system was called the ARPAnet computer network, and SRI became the home of its operation center and one of its first two nodes, or connection points.
SRI sold the NLS system in 1977 to a company called Tymshare. Dr. Engelbart worked there in relative obscurity for more than a decade until his contributions became more widely recognized by the computer industry. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology, the Lemelson-M.I.T. Prize and the Turing Award.
His first wife, the former Ballard Fish, died in 1997. Besides his wife, his survivors include his daughters, Gerda and Christina Engelbart and Diana Mangan; a son, Norman; and nine grandchildren.
Dr. Engelbart was one of the first to realize the accelerating power of computers and the impact they would have on society. In a presentation at a conference in Philadelphia in February 1960, he described the industrial process of continually shrinking the size of computer circuits that would later be referred to as “Moore’s Law,” after the Intel co-founder Gordon Moore.
Speaking of the future, he said, “Boy, are there going to be some surprises over there.”
道格拉斯·恩格爾巴特 | 1925-2013
1950年，道格拉斯·C·恩格爾巴特(Douglas C. Engelbart)25歲，剛剛訂了婚，思考着他的未來，突然，一個將會改變世界的靈感閃現在他的腦海。
恩格爾巴特博士於周二在加利福尼亞州阿瑟頓的家中去世，享年88歲。他的妻子卡倫·奧利里·恩格爾巴特(Karen O』Leary Engelbart)說他死於腎衰竭。
當恩格爾巴特博士剛剛進入計算機科學領域時，該領域還處在 發展初期。那時的電腦還只是笨拙的、房間般大的計算器。人們用一疊疊打孔卡向計算機輸入信息，然後等幾小時才能打印出答案。交互式計算還很遙遠，或僅在科 幻小說里出現。但它卻正在恩格爾巴特博士不知疲倦的大腦中萌芽。
10年後，他于越戰期間在斯坦福研究所（Stanford Research Institute，後來被重新命名為SRI，再後來是SRI國際）成立了一個實驗性的研究小組，該小組被稱為擴展研究中心（Augmentation Research Center，簡稱ARC）。但總的來說，計算機領域的專業人士都認為恩格爾巴特博士是一個堂吉訶德式的外來者。
但在1968年12月舊金山舉行的秋季聯合計算機大會 (Fall Joint Computer Conference)上，恩格爾巴特博士在一千多名世界頂級計算機科學家面前做了一次卓越的演示，讓整個計算機世界為之興奮。恩格爾巴特博士當時正在開 發一系列革命性的交互計算機技術，他認為這次大會是首次展示這些技術的理想時機。
在大會上，他坐在講台上，面前是一個鼠標、一個鍵盤和其他 控制設備，電腦顯示屏被投射在他身後一個22英尺（約合6.7米）高的屏幕上。在一個小時出頭的時間裡，他向在座的人展示了一個聯網的、交互的計算機系統 如何能讓相互合作的科學家快速共享信息。他還演示了如何使用他在四年前發明的鼠標來控制電腦，並展示了文本編輯、視頻會議、超文本和創建窗口。
與會人員都被他的演示所震驚。在一次演示中，恩格爾巴特博 士展示了信息時代的電腦的實力和潛力。這一技術將最終在施樂公司(Xerox)的帕洛阿爾托研究中心（Palo Alto Research Center，簡稱PARC）和斯坦福人工智能實驗室(Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory)得以改進。蘋果公司(Apple)和微軟(Microsoft)將在20世紀80年代把這一技術付諸商用，並從此改變現代生活的進 程。
道格拉斯·卡爾·恩格爾巴特於1925年1月25日出生在 俄勒岡州波特蘭，他的父母是卡爾和格拉迪絲·恩格爾巴特(Carl and Gladys Engelbart)。他在波特蘭的郊區長大成人，後就讀於俄勒岡州立大學(Oregon State College)。他在二戰快結束時應徵入伍，並在海軍服役兩年，其中一年是在菲律賓任雷達技術員。
在回到俄勒岡州立大學並畢業後，他在加利福尼亞州的政府航天實驗室艾姆斯研究中心(Ames Research Center)謀得一職。在那裡擔任電子技術員期間，他看到航天工程師如何從設計小模型開始，而後將它放大變成全尺寸的穿梭機。
他一直沒有忘記這種按比例生產的想法。從加州大學伯克利分 校(University of California, Berkeley)取得博士學位後，他寫了一篇有重大意義的論文，探討微電子學領域的成比例生產。他開始確信，計算機將很快變得更強大。事實證明，他是對 的。
斯坦福研究院在1977年把聯機系統賣給一家名叫泰姆謝爾 (Tymshare)的公司。恩格爾巴特博士在那裡默默無聞地工作了十幾年，直到後來他的貢獻在計算機界得到更廣泛的認可。他被授予了國家技術獎章 (National Medal of Technology)、麻省理工學院萊梅爾遜獎(Lemelson-MIT Prize)和圖靈獎(Turing Award)。
他的第一任妻子巴拉德·菲什(Ballard Fish)於1997年去世。除了現在的妻子，恩格爾巴特的在世家人還有他的女兒格爾達·恩格爾巴特(Gerda Engelbart)、克里斯蒂娜·恩格爾巴特(Christina Engelbart)、和戴安娜·曼根(Diana Mangan)，兒子諾曼(Norman)，以及九個孫輩。
恩格爾巴特博士很早便認識到計算機的加速力以及計算機對社 會的影響力，他是這方面的先驅之一。在1960年費城一場會議的報告中，他描述了如何不斷縮小計算機電路的工業，這種想法後來被稱為摩爾定律 (Moore』s Law)，以英特爾(Intel)創始人之一高登·摩爾(Gordon Moore)命名。
Widely described as the father of the computer mouse, Mr. Engelbart played a key role in inventing or refining other building blocks of personal computers and the Web—including word processing, bitmapped computer displays and navigating online using links.
Mr. Engelbart, who died July 2 at the age of 88, demonstrated many of the ideas at a jaw-dropping San Francisco event in 1968 that is still widely called the "mother of all demos."
But Mr. Engelbart never achieved the wealth or fame of entrepreneurs at companies like Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that would build on some of his ideas. Friends say he sometimes lamented that his broader goal—to fundamentally expand human capabilities with computers—wasn't understood or appreciated.
"Doug was the Moses of the information age," says Paul Saffo, a managing director of the research firm Discern Analytics, who had known Mr. Engelbart since the early 1980s. "He did quite a lot to lead us all to the digital promised land, but was left behind on the wrong side of the Red Sea."
Mr. Engelbart was the son of a Portland, Ore., radio-shop owner who died when his son was nine years old. The younger Mr. Engelbart studied electronic engineering in college and was a Navy radar technician during World War II. After the war he worked as a wind-tunnel engineer at the Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.
It was at Ames that Mr. Engelbart had what he later described as a vision of the information age, conceiving a world where people could interact with computers through cathode-ray tubes like the ones in television sets and use them to share information and solve problems collectively. His ideas germinated in an age when computers were room-size devices that produced answers to questions posed by computer tape or punch cards.
Mr. Engelbart "was moving toward the computer as a communications device, something for navigating knowledge," says Mark Weber, founder and curator of the Internet-history program at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. "That was a really, really radical idea in the '50s and the '60s."
Like others of his era, Mr. Engelbart was inspired by a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article by the government science adviser Vannevar Bush, which posited a hypothetical device, the Memex, that would help people efficiently store and retrieve books, records and communications. That idea planted seeds for the linking concept known as hypertext that became a foundation for the Web and later was advanced by Mr. Engelbart and another researcher.
After receiving a doctorate in electrical engineering from University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Engelbart joined Stanford Research Institute, a government-sponsored lab that eventually cut its ties to Stanford University. He led the Augmentation Research Center at the institute from 1959 to 1977.
Mr. Engelbart had said he got the idea for the mouse in 1961. It used two wheels—one turning vertically, the other, horizontally—to help position a cursor on a computer screen.
During the 1968 demonstration, Mr. Engelbart wowed the audience, showing off other concepts, like editing text on a computer display, use of multiple computer windows and videoconferencing.
Mr. Engelbart resisted being identified with the mouse or other specific inventions, preferring to see his broader role in a collaborative vision he called Collective IQ. "The mouse was just a tiny piece of a much larger project aimed at augmenting human intellect," Mr. Engelbart told Superkids Educational Software Review in 2003.
But he lost federal funding and SRI wound up selling his center. Some of his team went to Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, which worked on office automation items such as PCs and laser printers. Mr. Engelbart later worked at aerospace company McDonnell Douglas Corp., before founding the Bootstrap Institute—where he offered management seminars on his ideas. He also created the Doug Engelbart Institute, which has the mission of advancing his "lifelong career goal of boosting our ability to better address complex, urgent problems."
Mr. Engelbart was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 2000 and the Association for Computing Machinery's A.M. Turing Award in 1997.
Mr. Saffo, of Discern Analytics, says that many of Mr. Engelbart's ideas remain to be explored—or perfected, such as allowing several people to edit a document simultaneously. "How many times have you worked simultaneously on a shared screen on a shared document?" Mr. Saffo asks. "It's just too hard to do."
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