Video Archives

   Photo of VB
Vannevar Bush

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium 1

The MIT/Brown Vannevar Bush Symposium was hosted at MIT on October 12-13, 1995, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vannevar Bush's seminal article "As We May Think," published in the Atlantic Monthly, July 1945. As a speaker at the event, Doug Engelbart received VHS copies of all the sessions, which later surfaced as part of the Doug Engelbart Video Archives digitization project. In researching the origin of the videos, we were pleased to discover in 2010 the original conference resources dating back to 1995, still available on the MIT and Brown University websites. An excellent paper about the event was published in ACM Interactions the following year. See Additional Resources below for links to these and more, including a Vannevar Bush timeline, photo gallery, and Memex Animation video especially produced for this Symposium.

The event resources, including the video archives from the 1995 event, are now curated at the Internet Archive, and linked below:

  Reference the
Event Program - Schedule of Speakers

[movies] Screenshot: 30th Anniversary Panel Session #1
Paul Penfield, Jr., MIT Host   
Opening Remarks
[ Bio ]

Andy van Dam, Program Chair
Intros and Historical Timeline
[ Bush Timeline | Bio ]

[movies] Paul Kahn, Memex Expert
Visual tour of Bush's work
[ Memex Animation | Photos | Bio ]
[movies] #2 - Doug Engelbart
The Strategic Pursuit of Collective IQ
[ Slides | Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #3 - Ted Nelson
Where the Trail Leads
[ Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #4 - Bob Kahn
Augmenting Bush's Vision with Digital Technology
[ Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #5 - Tim Berners-Lee
Hypertext and Our Collective Destiny
[ Abstract | Paper | Bio ]
[movies] #6 - Michael Lesk
The Seven Ages of Information Retrieval
[ Abstract | Paper | Bio ]
[movies] #7 - Assorted Speakers
Day 1 Panel Discussion
[ Panel 1 - Detailed Notes ]
[movies] #8 - Raj Reddy
Bush's Intelligent Systems Revisited
[ Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #9 - Lee Sproull
Information Is Not Enough: Computer Support for Productive Work
[ Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #10 - Alan Kay
Simex: the neglected part of Bush's Vision
[ Abstract | Bio ]
[movies] #11 - Assorted Speakers
Day 2 Panel Discussion
[ Panel 2 - Detailed Notes ]


Influence on Doug Engelbart 2

   Scanned image of Doug's copy of the article
Doug's copy of the article circa 1962 - check it out
(courtesy Computer History Museum)

Watch Doug describe his first encounter of "As We May Think"
Map of Philippine island where Doug first encountered the article
Where Doug read the article (click to enlarge)

Because we're on the Doug Engelbart Institute website, we've added what we know about Doug's first encounter of Bush's article, and how it influenced his work, as one case example of Bush's influence on this Pioneer of the Information Age.

In September 1945, shortly after arriving in the Phillippines to serve as a US Navy radio and radar technician, then twenty year old Doug Engelbart ran across the latest issue of Life Magazine, which included a reprint of Vannevar Bush's article "As We May Think." He found the magazine in a Red Cross library located in a traditional hut on stilts on the island of Leyte. Watch Doug describe his first encounter (and in more detail here in his CHM Oral History video). Additional accounts can be found in his Stanford Oral History Interview.

The article made a big impression on Doug at the time, but did not appear in his work until around 1959 or 1960 when he began developing his "augmentation framework." He dug up a copy of the article to study in depth (see his notes in the margins in his copy of the article at right), and described it in detail in his seminal 1962 report Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework (beginning at paragraph 3a4), including several quotes from Bush's article, and discussion as to potential relevance.

While preparing said Report, Doug wrote a letter to Vannevar Bush, seeking permission to quote his article, outlining his own work, and describing his earlier encounters with Bush's 1945 article. Doug enclosed with this letter a summary description of his work titled "Program On Human Effectiveness." [print version] See also Doug's Abstract for his talk at this 1995 Bush Symposium for a brief glimpse into how his thinking evolved vis-a-vis Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think."

Additional Resources 3