2022 marked the 60th Anniversary of Doug Engelbart's landmark 'manifesto' Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework!

A Field Guide to 'Augmenting Human Intellect' 0

  Report cover Browse the research report | Table of Contents
wordle Wordle of 1962 Report

Watch short documentary (6 min.) to see what sprang from Doug's Framework


Engelbart did not think of the computer as merely improving human thinking, but as transforming the processes of our institutions in a more profound way...
— Janet H. Murray, on Inventing the Medium in New Media Reader


Watch Prof. Gardner Campbell present "Doug's 1962 Framework" (12 min.)


Watch Alan Kay present "Why we need to understand what Doug Engelbart was trying to do" (30 min.) -- Highlights: 1968 Demo - Key Takeaways | Today? | Why Engelbart? | Systems Thinking to Help Us Think | Big Idea
(see below for full details.)


Watch Doug present "The Augmented Knowledge Workshop" (1986) -- watch Framework highlights: Intro | Framework Purpose | Framework Report | Expressed in 1968 | Framework Detail / Call to Action
(see below for full details.)


Doug thought at scale. He understood that a car is not simply a faster tricycle. He had faith that an augmented intellect, joined to millions of other augmented intellects, could clarify individual thought even as it empowered vast new modes of thinking, new modes of complex understanding that could grasp intricately meaningful symbols as quickly and comprehensively as we can recognize a loved one's face.
— Gardner Campbell, Dreams About How The World Could Be

What it is 1

Welcome to our 'field guide' to Doug Engelbart's most seminal work. It all started with a vision for humanity and a compre­hen­sive two-year study of what he came to call 'Augmenting the Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework', culminating in a compre­hen­sive research report, an article distilling his findings for the public, and a concise summary proposal (all found under Find it here below) – which then served as the guiding force behind his award-winning pioneering research through­out his career, and still inspires us today.

The aim of his ground­breaking study, conducted by Doug Engelbart at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), was to flesh out his ideas for making the world a much better place in the fastest possible timeframe. His basic premise? In the midst of accel­er­at­ing change, the issues and oppor­tuni­ties we face would be growing increasingly complex and urgent. If we could discover how teams could work dra­mat­i­cally smarter, better, faster, then all the initia­tives tackling important challenges could be much more effective pursuing their mission. Consider it the grand challenge of grand challenges, important to success of organi­zations, insti­tu­tions, whole nations, and cross-cutting efforts, large and small.

By 'augmenting human intellect' we mean increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insoluble.
— Doug Engelbart, in his Introduction to Augmenting Human Intellect

In the course of this study, funded jointly by SRI and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Doug forged a new discipline he called Augmenting the Human Intellect, with in-depth conceptual framework, research agenda, and strategic approach for bootstrapping the results at scale. This report summarizes his findings and recommendations.

Significance 1d

R&D funding ensued, and so the Augmenting Human Intellect Research Center (AHIRC) was born. In a few short years, following the core principles set forth in his Framework, Doug and his team forged a constellation of breakthrough firsts to herald in a new era in team effectiveness, as demonstrated first in 1968 in what is now known as the Mother of All Demos, again in 1969 with the 'sequel' to the Demo, and beyond. Pioneering firsts in organizational computing included interactive, hyperlinked, networked personal and collaborative computing, which he co-evolved alongside organizational innovations and strategic design principles that were just as profound.

And for his efforts he was recognized with the National Medal of Technology & Innovation, the Turing Award, the Lemelson-MIT Prize, an Honorary Doctorate from Yale, and more, even as he continued pointing to the future through his lectures and management seminars.

And now widely acclaimed:

"In one 1968 presentation, this inventor shaped modern computing"  - Smithsonian Magazine
"One of recent history's most acclaimed innovators"  - Inventors Digest
"Visionary is one of the most overused terms in tech, but it almost seems insufficient to explain just what Doug Engelbart was'  - Fast Company

In other words, Doug's conceptual framework for augmenting the human intellect drove one of the more revolutionary research agendas on record, and, like Einstein's Theory of Relativity, is still enormously relevant. And yet we have still barely scratched the surface of fully appreciating, let alone achieving, its true potential.

And all this traces back to this seminal document – the strategic thinking, big picture vision, phenomenal thought experiments, unifying conceptual framework, organizing principles, strategic approach, and application scenarios – which informed and shaped all subsequent work.

Find it here 2

Browse with our usual enhanced navigation features (see About Our Website), or other formats as shown below.

Report: Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, 1962 (134 pages) – the original 1962 research report in full. Available Here: permalink | PDF | eReader | HyperScope(?) | More
For a full citation, refer to #3 in Doug's Bibliography.

Article: A Conceptual Framework for the Augmention of Man's Intellect, 1963 (35 pages) – distilled for management in the book Vistas in Information Handling, Howerton & Weeks [Ed.], 1963, Chapter 1. Available Here: permalink | PDF | eReader | HyperScope(?) | More

Summary: Program on Human Effectiveness , 1961 (8 pages) – executive summary of the framework and research agenda. Historical Note: Doug enclosed a copy of this summary with a letter to Vannevar Bush in May of 1962. Available Here: permalink | PDF | HyperScope(?)

Audio: New! Readings of the first few sections of the 1962 report by Prof. Gardner Campbell for his Framework Annotation site, now available as a collection on our Audio Resources page, here's a teaser:

Resources 3

In Perspective 3a

Explore 3a

  • Join the conversation at Professor Gardner Campbell's Framework Annotation site, building on his guided group annotation of Doug's 1962 report, including video conversations with guest annotators, and more. Prof. Campbell is a foremost Engelbart scholar and practitioner of Framework strategic principles. 3a2
  • 3a4
  • Test drive the The Mother of All Demos - our interactive video tour of the early implementation of Doug's Framework and Bootstrapping Strategy; for more on the demo visit including a short Trailer on the demo, fun facts, memorabilia, impact and a glimpse behind the scenes. 3a5
  • Virtual Exhibits from Doug's Lab - our online exhibit space created from the Engelbart Archive Collection - oral histories, texts, archive photos, video footage, arranged by topic 3a6
  • Just For Kids - this section of the website is devoted to kids interested in learning more about Doug Engelbart's life and work. 3a7

Then and Now 3b

The research world and market forces took a very different trajectory, falling way short of the true potential Doug Engelbart laid out so clearly in his Framework, and proved out the basics in his own research – now more relevant than ever. He continued to iteratively refine, implement, and evolve his message throughout his career.

Press 3c

Selected press coverage:

Papers 3d

Selected Engelbart papers:

Learn More 4

About Doug 4a

The Archives 4b