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Doug's Great Demo: 1968 0

Welcome to theDemo.org – our main portal into Doug's great demo of 1968 where you will find stories, archive footage and photos, and links to other fabulous resources at Stanford Libraries Special Collections, SRI International, Computer History Museum and more. Experience the demo, and watch retrospectives by Doug and his team recounting their experience.

A milestone event in the history of computing!

Intro 1

On December 9th, 1968 Doug Engelbart appeared on stage at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco's Civic Auditorium to give his slated presentation, titled "A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect." He and his team spent the next 90 minutes not only telling about their work, but demonstrating it live to a spellbound audience that filled the hall.

Instead of standing at a podium, Doug was seated at a custom designed console, where he drove the presentation through their NLS computer residing 30 miles away in his research lab at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), onto a large projection screen overhead, flipping seamlessly between his presentation outline and live demo of features, while members of his research lab video teleconferenced in from SRI in shared screen mode to demonstrate more of the system.

This seminal demonstration came to be known as "The Mother of All Demos."

Experience the Demo 2

What you are about to see - watch futurist Paul Saffo que up the demo for a live audience at the 30th anniversary event titled "Engelbart's Unfinished Revolution" (more below).

Watch demo highlights


Overhead shot of Doug driving the demo, superimposed on demo projection screen

Click to see photo gallery of the demo project


See SRI's Timeline on Innovation: Computer Mouse and Interactive Computing with concise background and overall significance of the demo.

Browse the virtual exhibits showcasing Doug's work at the Computer History Museum.

Explore the MouseSite at Stanford for stories, archive video, photos, and key technical papers from the Douglas C. Engelbart Collection at Stanford Libraries Special Collections.

See also the 1968 Demo Table of Contents which links to specific sections of the Demo, the Detailed Onscreen Outline used as 'slides' during the Demo, and a full draft transcript of the demo.

Read the paper: This "Mother of all Demos" was technically a talk presented at a conference. See the paper submitted to the conference proceedings to accompany Doug's presentation, A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect, by Doug Engelbart and Bill English, in Proceedings of the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference, San Francisco, CA, December 9, 1968, Vol. 33, pp. 395-410 (AUGMENT,3954,).

Poster announcing Doug's presentation
See event poster


Memorabilia: See the poster announcing Doug's talk, the conference proceedings table of contents [pdf|html], archive images of the presentation, and photo gallery of the demo project. 2

Note: Most of what Doug and his team presented in 1968 was developed literally "from scratch" by a handful of researchers in the space of four years. The system, called NLS, was used day in and day out by the research team for almost every aspect of their work -- they were living and breathing the Future of Work as an advanced pilot expedition, and sharing their best practices to date.

Reflecting on the Demo3

Learn more about the making of the demo, the system being demonstrated, how and why it was conceived and evolved, its significance, and what it was like working in Doug's innovative lab at that point in time. 3a

Doug and His Team 3b

Watch Doug's 1986 reflections

Doug's Presentation at the ACM Conference:
January 1986
Event: ACM Conference on the History of the Personal Workstation (1986)

Watch Doug's 1986 presentation and accompanying paper Workstation History and The Augmented Knowledge Workshop in the conference proceedings, telling the story of his 1968 demo, the work surrounding it, and the vision it represented, with historic photos and personal anecdotes woven throughout. Doug is introduced by Charles Irby, who joined his team in 1968 after seeing the demo live at the conference in San Francisco.

CONTENTS: Intro by Charles | Doug's Talk: Leading up to Demo | Demo Prep | Selected Footage (15min) | Post Demo | Overarching Framework | Q&A

Two fabulous anniversary events were later held to commemorate the demo, with panel discussions by Doug, members of his research team who participated in the 1968 demo, and invited guests discussing what it took to put on the demo that day, what it was like behind the scenes, and the significance of the work they were doing then and now.

Screenshot: 30th Anniversary Panel
Watch the 1998 panel


A 30th Anniversary Event:
December 9, 1998
Event:Engelbart's Unfinished Revolution (1998)

Watch the 1998 Panel Discussion with (left to right) moderator Paul Saffo, Doug Engelbart, members of his research team Bill English, Charles Irby, and Jeff Rulifson, plus special guest Stuart Brand.

FULL CONTENTS: Welcome by Paul | Demo Footage (15min) | Back to Paul | Introducing Panelists | Panel Discussion.

Watch the Stanford News report
(3 min)

Visit the 30th Anniversary event website for more about the event and to watch more sessions.

Contemplating the event's title "The Unfinished Revolution," futurist Paul Saffo remarked:

"because the extraordinary thing is,
even with the events that were demonstrated 30 years ago,
more remains unfinished than has been completed."


Screenshot: 40th Anniversary Panel
Watch the 2008 panel

A 40th Anniversary Event:
December 9, 2008
Event: Engelbart and the Dawn of Interactive Computing (2008)

Watch the 2008 Panel Discusssion [Part 1 | Part 2] with members of Doug's research team Jeff Rulifson, Bill English, Don Andrews, Bill Paxton, together with special guest Andy van Dam and moderator Bob Sproull discussing the demo and its significance.

Watch the Stanford News Report on the Event (3 min. video) - an excellent compilation.

Visit the 40th Anniversary event website for more about the event and to watch more sessions.

Colleagues, Press, and Presidents 3c

Watch President Obama cite Engelbart and the 1968 demo

Watch the other speakers and panelists at the two events reflecting on the 1968 Demo, luminaries such as Curt Carlson, Denise Caruso, Andy van Dam, Chuck House, Robert Taylor, John Markoff, Ted Nelson, Alan Kay, Paul Saffo, Bob Sproull, and more [40th Anniv Sessions | 30th Anniv. Sessions]. 3c1

The 40th anniversary of the 1968 demo was marked by many articles reflecting on the demo – watch the Stanford News report (3 min), see 40th Anniversary Press for recommended articles and interviews by Patricia Seybold, Paul Saffo, Maggie Shiels, and others. Or browse our Press Clippings page for a more comprehensive collection of links dating back in time. 3c2

See also this mid-1990s description of the demo by Brown University Center for Graphics and Visualization, Douglas Engelbart and 'The Mother of All Demos'. Andy van Dam, a principal investigator at the Center, attended the 1968 demo and was a guest speaker at both the 30th and 40th Anniversary events. 3c3

Inspired Artistic Creations 3d

Screenshot: 40th Anniversary Panel

The Mother of All Demos: An Animated Commentary
In 2009 a Freshman at Baylor University by the name of Philip Heinrich produced an impressive 5 minute video capturing the essence of Doug's goals and vision, combining audio from the 1968 demo with his own animation, which he titled "The Mother of All Demos: An Animated Commentary". Read about the project, the student, and the course and professor he produced it for on our Student Showcase page which includes links to the video on YouTube and to other projects he has authored. 3d1

'The Demo' now an avant garde opera at Stanford
Stanford Live presents an avant garde opera 'The Demo', a musical/video/lightshow reimagining the 1968 "Mother of All Demos" originally presented by Doug Engelbart and his team just down the road at Stanford Research Institute for the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, December 1968. [Details|Press|Reviews]. 3b4

See Also 4

On the Web 4a

  • Visit MouseSite - the definitive website on the 1968 Demo (as well as the history of the Mouse) hosted by Stanford University.
  • 4a1

  • "The Mother of All Demos" (90 min Video/Film) Doug's 1968 debut of NLS (Augment's precursor) including hypermedia, the mouse, collaborative work, interactive computing, human computer interface, and overarching guiding principles. See especially Clip 12 where Doug, sitting in San Francisco, brings in a coworker sitting in his lab in Menlo Park, to demonstrate the mouse, and Clip 13 where Doug introduces the keyset.
  • 4a2


From Doug's Lab4b

  • A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect. (the paper written for the conference where they gave the demo, describing the work they were demoing). Douglas C. Engelbart and William K. English, AFIPS Conference Proceedings of the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference, San Francisco, CA, 33, December 1968, pp. 395-410 (AUGMENT,3954,). Republished with articles No. 4, 21, and 23 in "Computer Supported Cooperative Work: A Book of Readings," Irene Greif [Ed.], Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, Inc., San Mateo, CA, 1988, pp. 81-105. See also Engelbart's videotaped presentation from this historic 1968 conference "A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect."
  • 4b1

  • Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. (Doug's seminal report documenting his strategic vision that drove the work) Douglas C. Engelbart, Summary Report, Stanford Research Institute, on Contract AF 49(638)-1024, October 1962, 134 pages (AUGMENT,133182,).
  • 4b2

  • Workstation History and The Augmented Knowledge Workshop. Douglas C. Engelbart, Proceedings of the ACM Conference on the History of Personal Workstations, Palo Alto, CA, January 9-10, 1986, pp. 73-83 (AUGMENT,101931,). Republished as The Augmented Knowledge Workshop in "A History of Personal Workstations," Adele Goldberg [Ed.], ACM Press, New York, 1988, pp. 185-236.
  • 4b3


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