The National Medal of Technology & Innovation 0

Bestowed on Douglas C. Engelbart
"For creating the foundations of personal computing including continuous real-time interaction based on cathode-ray tube displays and the mouse, hypertext linking, ..."

November 13, 2000
America's highest technology award for Doug Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart will be awarded the 2000 National Medal of Technology by President Clinton at a black-tie, gala banquet in the National Building Museum on the evening of Friday, December 1, 2000. It is the nation's highest award in this category. Other NMT recipients are Dean Karnen, Donald B. Keck, Robert D. Maurer, Peter Schultz, and the IBM Corporation. On the same occasion, President Clinton will be awarding National Medals of Science as well.1A

Related ceremonies will include a roundtable discussion between the Laureates and young people who have demonstrated an aptitude for science and engineering. This will enable young people to discuss their interests and solicit guidance from the Laureates, who have become role models for America's youth and youth around the globe. A webcast of this event is scheduled for approximately 10:45 a.m., November 30.1B

A press roundtable will be held for both science and technology Laureates in the International Trade Center (Ronald Regan Building) on December 1 at 10:30 a.m.1C

For more information on the Medal itself, see The National Medal of Technology and Innovation website.1D

November 13, 2000
Award Category & Citation 2

Contribution Category: General Product & Process Innovation2A

Citation: For creating the foundations of personal computing including continuous real-time interaction based on cathode-ray tube displays and the mouse, hypertext linking, text editing, on-line journals, shared-screen teleconferencing, and remote collaborative work.2B

December 1, 2000: A momentous pause in the unfinished revolution.
Doug Engelbart with President Clinton in the Oval Room on the occasion of
receiving the National Medal of Technology.
(photo credit and availability) 2C

November 13, 2000
Doug Engelbart's role in personal and networked computing 3

Brief biography forwarded by the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Dr. Engelbart, more than any other single person, set the stage for that component of the computer revolution now called personal computing. During the early 1960s, when the hallmark of computing was large mainframe computers, he correctly saw that a close, interactive, and continual relationship between a computer and its user would yield enormous benefit in making that person more efficient and effective.3A

It was not all vision. During that time he perfected the notions of on-line, real-time systems that caused machines to deliver to their users what they wanted when they wanted it, all interactively. This work came to define the functionality of personal computing even though some years would pass before the personal computer itself would be affordable for an individual user.3B

As Director of a laboratory at Stanford Research Institute that grew to a staff of 40 to 50 members, he and they created many of the concepts and tools of personal computing that we take for granted more than thirty years later. The concepts of point-and-click and hypertext are just two that have come to define the ease with which we now interact with computers. Over two dozen of the properties and capabilities of present computers were demonstrated by the mid-1970s.3C

As important as these contributions were, they were but stepping stones toward Dr. Engelbart's ultimate goal of elevating the competency of an entire organization through the augmentation of its members through distributed computing systems. Most of the software innovations were embedded in an integrated groupware system he called NLS (for on-line system), one of the first interactive systems anywhere. All this was made possible for the first time at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in December 1968 in San Francisco. On a huge screen at the Conference, he jointly edited a document (two cursors) with a collaborator 40 miles away at SRI in Menlo Park.3D

Through video windows on each workstation, the two had a full personal and computer-based interaction. His conviction about distributed computer systems led to his group being the second node on the fledgling ARPANET and later the Internet. His Network Information Center was the entryway for anyone getting an address for these new networks for over twenty years.3E

This early establishment of personal and collaborative computing helped create a prescription for how computers were to evolve. These directions included hardware, such as cathode display tubes and the mouse, which he invented, and network interfaces. They included software directions such as windowing, hypermedia and hypertext shared-screen teleconferencing, and, importantly, the concepts and methods of on-line text and graphics processing. These foundations made it clear that computers would have this new role of continual, proximal support for individuals, working either alone or, through networking, as part of a group.3F

At least four of Dr. Engelbart's staff transferred to Xerox PARC where bit-map displays, icons, and the desktop metaphor with its overlapping windows were created. When Steve Jobs of fledgling Apple Computer saw all this, he understood immediately the ingredients of what came to be the MacIntosh. SRI issued licences for the mouse to both Xerox and Apple Computer.3G

The effects of Moore's Law and this personalized functionality for computers opened the doors to one of history's most dramatic growths in human enterprise. That Dr. Engelbart foresaw this kind of impact is illustrated by this quote from a paper published in 1970: "there will emerge a new 'marketplace,' representing fantastic wealth in commodities of knowledge, service, information, processing, storage, etc. In the number and range of transactions, and in the speed and flexibility with which they are negotiated, this new market will have a vitality and dynamism as much greater than today's as today's is greater than the village market."3H

This anticipation of the way computers should and would ultimately serve individuals clearly helped establish the primacy of the United States in the information era and it still enjoys the competitive advantage of that accelerated growth.3I

The National Medal of Technology is "to recognize technological innovators who have made lasting contributions to enhancing America's competitiveness and standard of living" and whose solid science results in "commercially successful products and services." There could be no more apt description of Dr. Engelbart and his life's work so far.3J

[But even so, this editor [vE] can't resist adding that Doug's vision reaches far beyond the present state of affairs. His lifelong pursuit has always been to "as much as possible, boost mankind's collective capability for coping with complex, urgent problems." (cf par. 3D) Which is the guiding theme of this site ....]3K

December 3, 2000
The medal 4

Design for the National Medal of Technology is the work of medallist and sculptor Mico Kaufman, of North Tewksbury, Massachusetts. The design was selected from among a handful submitted by artists in 1984. The three-inch medal is struck in bronze by the Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Connecticut.4A

The obverse side of the coin depicts the technologist as something of a modern "wizard," with a concentrated beam bouncing off the palm of his hand representing the input and the output of technology and of the innovation process. Inscribed around the image are the words "NATIONAL MEDAL OF TECHNOLOGY."4B

On the reverse is an eagle clutching an olive branch and arrows, encircled by the inscription "AWARDED BY THE PRESIDENT/OF THE/UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO," with a space provided to inscribe the recipient's names. [copy, courtesy U.S. Department of Commerce]4C


Re National Medal of Technology. Established by Congress in 1980 as part of the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Act as a Presidential award, has recognized 108 individuals and eight companies whose accomplishments have generated jobs and created a better standard of living. Their accomplishments best embody technological innovation and support the advancement of global U.S. competitiveness. Source of photograph: The National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.5A

Re photographs of NMT Award events. - Thanks to Doug your wish is but a click away. 5B

thumbnail pres + dce
President Clinton and Douglas Engelbart.
Photograph: courtesy The White House. 5B1

thumbnail pres with group
President Clinton, Secretary Mineta, and NMT Laureates.
Photograph: courtesy The White House. 5B2

thumbnail mineta + dce
Secretary of Commerce Norman Mineta and Douglas Engelbart.
Photograph: courtesy National Science & Technology Medal Foundation. 5B3

Re photo credit. Image from a video clip of Doug Engelbart's demonstration of his NLS at the 1968 convention of the Association for Computing Machinery. Description and clips of the entire, 90-minute video are found at Stanford University's MouseSite. 5C

Douglas Engelbart as he demonstrated his oN-Line System (NLS) at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, CA, along with his research team. That presentation ultimately became known as the Mother of All Demos. Doug looked forward to seeing the system's rich range of features incorporated in a world-wide open hyperdocument system (OHS), which dream has yet to be fulfilled. He considered OHS to be a small but vital component of his bootstrapping strategy for optimizing the capabilities of organizations so that they may become true social organisms in a biological, evolutionary sense, capable of creating increasingly brilliant outcomes, and ultimately a brilliant world.*6