Douglas Engelbart

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Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Writing Science) by Thierry Bardini


Apple II, augmented reality, Bill Duvall, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, Grace Hopper, hiring and firing, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, invention of hypertext, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, unbiased observer, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

, BOOTSTRAPPING Douglas Engelhart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing THIERRY BARDINI S 1 A N I. 0 R 0 U N 1 V I R 1 I Y PRE S 1 A N I' 0 R D, C ALl I' 0 R N 1 A Stanford UnIversIty Press Stanford, CalIfornIa @ 2000 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford JunIor UnIversity LIbrary of Congress CatalogIng-In-Publication Data BardIni, Thierry. Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, coevolutIon, and the ongins of personal computIng / ThIerry Bardinl. p. cm - (Writing science) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8°47-3723-1 (alk. paper) - ISBN 0-8°47-3871-8 (paper: alk. paper) I. MIcrocomputers-History. 2. Human-computer InteraCtIon. 3. User Interfaces (Computer systems). I. TItle. II. Senese QA 76.17. B37 2000 004.16'09-dc21 00-°56360 @ This book IS pnnted on acid-free, recycled paper. OrigInal prIntIng 2000 Last figure below indIcates year of thIS prIntIng: 09 08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00 Printed In the UnIted States of AmerIca CONTENTS I l/ustratlons IX Preface XI Introduction: Douglas Engelbart's Crusade for the Augmentation of Human Intellect I I. Language and the Body 33 2.

How have technical designs based upon the values and visions of early tech- nical innovators shaped the way users integrate present-day computers into their work? To understand the answers to these questions, and with them, the origins of personal computing, it is necessary to begin by understanding the contribu- tions of Douglas Engelbart and the concerns that motivated them. Famous and revered among his peers, Engelbart is one of the most misunderstood and per- haps least-known computer pioneers. This book proposes to remedy this, and not only for the sake of a case study or to claim a spot for Douglas Engelbart in the pantheon of the computer revolution, but also because such an enter- prise teaches us many lessons in the development, diffusion, and effect of the defining technology of the twentieth century: the computer. This book is intended for various audiences and answers different expec- tations accordingly.

The linkIng and relinking of objects by the Brain IS actually a language, but not a language like ours (since It IS addressIng Itself and not someone or some- thIng outsIde Itself). - PHI LIP K. ole K , Val,s Very few people outside the computer industry know Douglas Engelbart, the leading figure of the Augmentation of Human Intellect project, and among those people, many still credit him only with technological innovations like the mouse, the outline processor, the electronic-mail system, or, sometimes, the windowed user interface. These indeed are major innovations, and today they have become pervasive in the environments in which people work and play. But Douglas Engelbart never really gets credit for the larger contribution that he worked to create: an integrative and comprehensive framework that ties to- gether the technological and social aspects of personal computing technology.


pages: 223 words: 52,808

Intertwingled: The Work and Influence of Ted Nelson (History of Computing) by Douglas R. Dechow


3D printing, Apple II, Bill Duvall, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, game design, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, knowledge worker, linked data, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, pre–internet, RAND corporation, semantic web, Silicon Valley, software studies, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the medium is the message, Vannevar Bush, Wall-E, Whole Earth Catalog

Hugo’s Book Service, Chicago 9. Nelson TH (1993) Literary machines. Mindful Press, Sausalito 10. Nelson TH (2010) Possiplex: movies, intellect, creative control, my computer life and the fight for civilization. n.p., available at Lulu: http://​www.​lulu.​com/​shop/​ted-nelson/​possiplex/​paperback/​product-14925222.​html 11. Nelson TH (2013) Eulogy for Douglas Engelbart. Speech at Technology legend: honoring Douglas Engelbart, computer history museum, mountain view California, December 9th 2013. http://​www.​youtube.​com/​watch?​v=​FNCCkhADpiw 12. Smith LC (1991) Memex as an image of potentiality revisited. In: Nyce J, Kahn P (eds) From memex to hypertext: vannevar bush and the mind’s machine. Academic, London, pp 261–286 13. Wolf G (1995) The curse of Xanadu. Wired 3(6). http://​www.​wired.​com/​wired/​archive/​3.​06/​xanadu.​html 14.

Likewise, it is, perhaps, more accurate to claim that we in PARC were less original in the 1970s than we had been in the 1960s when many of the ideas were invented and explored for the first time (Fig. 3.6). Fig. 3.6Some of the precursors of the work at Xerox PARC In the early 1960s, there was an enormous wealth of ways to think about personal computing and networks, including Sketchpad, the very image of personal computing. Some of the personal computing explorers included Douglas Engelbart, of course, and Ted Nelson and Andy van Dam. The Grail Gesture Recognition System on a tablet that was invented the same year as the mouse—1964—and the conventions of making arrows, windows, and so on, including moving and resizing them. All of this was happening at that time: Seymour Papert with his Logo programming language and Turtle graphics; Simula; and some of our own stuff as well, such as the Arpanet, the Flex Machine and its first object-oriented operating system, the idea of Dynabook, and much, much more.

They could be educators and help the blind learn how to see; this is what science has done for the entire human race. But learning to see is a chore, so most, especially marketing people, are not interested. This is too bad, especially when we consider the efforts the two-eyed people like Ted have to go through to even have a glimpse happen. One of the keys is for the two-eyed people to turn into evangelists. Both Ted and our mutual hero, Douglas Engelbart, worked tirelessly over their lifetimes to point out that, in this dial-tone world, the emperor not only has no clothes but his cell phone can’t transmit real music. Yes, I’ve mixed a metaphor or two. Another key is to make a working system of the future. This was ARPA’s and especially PARC’s main mission. Make something that works, not just for a demo, but for a group of people. Some of what I showed during my talk is what Steve Jobs saw, and the Macintosh was a result of his glimpse and also interpretations of that glimpse by him and others at Apple.


pages: 193 words: 19,478

Memory Machines: The Evolution of Hypertext by Belinda Barnet


augmented reality, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Duvall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, game design, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, linked data, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, publish or perish, semantic web, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, Vannevar Bush, wikimedia commons

This crucial shift may offer some answer to Nelson’s gloom, and perhaps even to the generally negative affect of our broken-down times. If our failure has become epically ludic, then perhaps it is no longer the dire outcome our forebears fretted over: that failure to survive, as civilization or species, that seemed to hang over the latter half of the twentieth century. It’s worth remembering, as this book reminds us, that this particular fear of ending was the spectre that haunted Douglas Engelbart, sitting in his radio shack somewhere in the South Pacific in 1945. Reading news of the bomb, he came (after any GI’s understandable euphoria) to the recognition that the world must fundamentally change if it wanted to escape burning. The science of industrial destruction would have to yield (and yield to) augmentations of communication and cognition. Engelbart thus passed early on through a turning point of human history, the great course correction that has allowed TO MANDELBROT IN HEAVEN xv our species to reach later, scarier levels of the Darwin game.

Computers, for example, adapt and adopt characteristics over time, ‘one suppressing the other as it becomes obsolete’ (Guattari 1995, 40). But are we to understand this lineage from a sociological, an archaeological or a zoological perspective? And what is a technical artefact? I need to address these questions here for two reasons. First, because it is impossible to write a technical history without defining how that history will be constructed, and second, because these questions also concerned Douglas Engelbart, one of the early pioneers whose work we investigate in this book. The relationship between human beings and their tools, and how those tools extend, augment or ‘boost’ our capacity as a species, is integral to the history of hypertext and the NLS system in particular. Traditionally, history has ignored the material dimension of technical artefacts. Historians are interested in tracing cultural formations, personalities and institutions, and especially the social ‘constructions’ they erect around themselves.

And once people get the idea of ‘hey we can do that’, then somebody does something, somebody does something better, that just keeps developing. (Duvall 2011) This book investigates both technical vision and technical prototypes, but more important, it investigates the relationship between them. Technical visions are not simply ‘translated’ into artefacts. The process of development is much more tangled than that, and presents its own material and technical limits. We investigate this in more detail in Chapter 3, when discussing Douglas Engelbart’s NLS system. NLS was the computing world’s most influential prototype, yet it was inspired by Vannevar Bush’s vision of Memex. Engelbart updated this design with digital computing technologies. Chapter 4 is on Nelson’s Xanadu, which has never been built in its entirety, yet it has inspired dozens of prototypes. Andries van Dam’s first hypertext system, HES, was inspired by Nelson’s technical vision of Xanadu, and was in turn an important prototype.


pages: 394 words: 108,215

What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry by John Markoff


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, back-to-the-land, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, California gold rush, card file, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, El Camino Real, general-purpose programming language, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, hypertext link, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, Jeff Rulifson, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mahatma Gandhi, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, union organizing, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

By the late 1960s, that idea was already in the air on the San Francisco Midpeninsula. Before the arrival of the Xerox scientists and the Homebrew hobbyists, the technologies underlying personal computing were being pursued at two government-funded research laboratories located on opposite sides of Stanford University. The two labs had been founded during the sixties, based on fundamentally different philosophies: Douglas Engelbart’s Augmented Human Intellect Research Center at Stanford Research Institute was dedicated to the concept that powerful computing machines would be able to substantially increase the power of the human mind. In contrast, John McCarthy’s Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory began with the goal of creating a simulated human intelligence. One group worked to augment the human mind; the other to replace it.

Science fiction writer William Gibson has said, “The future’s already arrived; it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”5 That observation is particularly true of a tiny microcosm that was as localized but has become as influential in the world as fifteenth-century Florence was when it gave the world the Renaissance half a millennium ago. This book grew out of a spirited dinner held several years ago on a Sausalito, California, houseboat. The evening was an informal reunion of a computer-industry pioneer—Douglas Engelbart—with a small group of people who had once worked for him: Bill and Roberta English and Bill and Ann Duvall. Also present was Ted Nelson, an itinerant writer, inventor, and social scientist who can best be described as the Don Quixote of computing. Nelson was a contemporary of Engelbart in the sixties, and the two men had pursued many of the same innovations. Engelbart, however, had been the first to demonstrate a vision that led directly to today’s computing world.

Still, Crane had found the challenge intellectually stimulating, and his MADs ultimately made their way into several commercial and military systems, including the New York City subway system, where they are still functioning nearly five decades later. In the winter of 1960, Crane’s group was working on a magnetic shift register, one of the key components of a computer. The previous year, he had introduced the idea of an all-magnetic computer at an industry technical conference and now was planning to deliver a report on the group’s work at the Philadelphia meeting. His traveling companion, Douglas Engelbart, was a member of Crane’s small team of engineers that was exploring magnetic storage and magnetic computing systems. The two men frequently socialized and were both devotees of Greek folk dancing, which they performed in their homes on the Midpeninsula. Yet Engelbart presented special managerial headaches for Crane. A dreamy engineer with a mind of his own, Doug Engelbart was not an easy person to control.


pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld


Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, butterfly effect, computer age, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

They had a kind of erotics of simulation in mind—the pleasure of doing something and then doing everything with these machines. The possibilities seemed endless. I call the next generation the Aquarians, and they were like painters eyeing a blank canvas or sculptors circling a block of marble. The Aquarians: Douglas Engelbart and Alan Kay In 20 or 30 years, you’ll be able to hold in your hand as much computing knowledge as exists now in the whole city, or even the whole world. —Douglas Engelbart It’s not the technology that lives. It’s the dream that lives. —Alan Kay Doug Engelbart worked in the world that the Plutocrats ruled, but made the world in which we live. He drew inspiration from the visions of the Patriarchs, and they funded his campaign against the culture of the Plutocrats. As an army radio operator in the Philippines just after World War II, Engelbart read Bush’s seminal article, “As We May Think,” and its vision sustained him all the way through graduate school and into his first positions in California.

The technology was there, the dream of participation was not just alive, it was thriving, but the Aquarians couldn’t sell it to the masses. And selling to the masses is one way to be remembered, at least in the United States. Selling to the masses is what Hustlers were born to do. The Hustlers: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? —Bill Gates, 1976 Real artists ship. —Steve Jobs, 1983 162 HOW THE COMPUTER BECAME OUR CULTURE MACHINE If J.C.R. Licklider and Douglas Engelbart are obscure talismans even among the best-informed computer users, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are iconic, triumphal nerds.20 Jobs at his height was perhaps the most intriguing businessperson in the world, and one of the few people to have built multibillion-dollar companies in two different industries, with Apple computers and Pixar animated films. Gates was the CEO of Microsoft, and as cab drivers from Calcutta to Cancún can tell you, for years the richest person in the world.

Certainly over the short term this rate can be expected to continue, if not to increase. Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least 10 years. That means by 1975, the number of components per integrated circuit for minimum cost will be 65,000. I believe that such a large circuit can be built on a single wafer.” 14 . See Thierry Bardini, Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001). 15 . See John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer (New York: Viking, 2005). For a broader sense of the California spiritual landscape, see Erik Davis, Visionary State (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006). 16 . There is no book-length biography of Kay, although there should be.


pages: 339 words: 57,031

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner


1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, bioinformatics, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, game design, George Gilder, global village, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, theory of mind, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yom Kippur War

One of the groups consisted of the researchers associated with Douglas Engelbart’s Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and later Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and the other was made up of computer hobbyists affiliated with the People’s Computer Company and, later, the Homebrew Computer Club. Stewart Brand moved back and forth between these communities, and the Whole Earth Catalog served as inspiration to members of both. In the Bay area in this period, the dynamic of personalization that had long been at work within some parts of the computer industry and the ideals of information sharing, individual empowerment, and collective growth that were alive within the counterculture and the hobbyist community did not so much compete with as complement each other. In Douglas Engelbart’s ARC group, computers had long seemed to be natural tools with which to expand the intellectual capacity of individuals and their ability to share knowledge.

Stolaroff and Harman had built the institute in order to explore the psychological effects of LSD; by 1962 they were charging subjects like Brand five hundred dollars for a daylong trip guided by one of several local psychologists. The man in charge of Brand’s procedure was Jim Fadiman, who later served for several months at Stanford Research Institute’s Augmentation Research Center—the division that in 1963 sponsored Douglas Engelbart’s research on networked computing. According to Brand’s journals, he received two doses of LSD, one in a “goblet” and the other, an hour later, by injection. Fadiman and others then had Brand look at a mural, a yin-yang mandala, and a series of other images, including pictures of his family. They played classical music. They asked Brand how he felt (“very thing” he replied).39 Eventually, the session ended and Brand wandered off to dinner at Fadiman’s house, still high.

In 1994, for instance, GBN had some 30 employees while serving 55 corporate and governmental clients and earning $4.5 million in annual Networking the New Economy [ 189 ] revenues.28 But in addition to the five founders and the staff, GBN’s promotional materials reminded prospective clients, the firm included a loose group of about 90 affiliates, known as “network members.” These members had been brought together over a number of years through the entrepreneurial bridging of structural holes by the principals, particularly by Stewart Brand. Early members, such as Douglas Engelbart, Mary Catherine Bateson, biologist Lynn Margulis, and ecologist Peter Warshall, represented Brand’s time at the Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly and his journeys to SRI and Xerox PARC. Others, such as computer scientist Danny Hillis and sociologist Sherry Turkle, suggested Brand’s links to MIT. Together, the network members represented a handful of groups: computer technologists, economists and financial analysts, corporate executives, natural scientists, journalists, and technology-oriented artists.


Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents by Lisa Gitelman


Andrew Keen, computer age, corporate governance, deskilling, Douglas Engelbart, East Village,, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, Jaron Lanier, knowledge economy, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, national security letter, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, optical character recognition, profit motive, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Turing test, Works Progress Administration

The manual and the operating system were each the mutual result of inertial and accelerative pressures, at the same time stuck (and restuck, like so many nth-­generation photocopies) in versions while also sputtering forward in annotations, patches, and revisions. Xerographic reproduction and the versioning of digital objects thus offered contexts for one another, even apart from the idea of digital copying. In this early era of minimal networking, digital copying remained encumbered by the necessity of transporting programs and data on magnetic tape or other hard media. Even the networked contexts of the day prove this point. In 1967 Douglas Engelbart and his team at the Stanford Research Institute were challenged to provide documentation for the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (better known as arpanet ) as it came online. There were a few things they knew for sure: they wanted users to be able to access documentation remotely across the network; they were certain that the distribution of hardcopy documents was also necessary, possibly in the form of microfiche; and they would obviously need a system of documentation that would allow frequent updating.

A much more direct line of descent— though across a longer span of time—might be drawn between Sketchpad and pdf , in the very least since John Warnock studied at the University of Utah after Sutherland joined the faculty there. What happened between these early page images and the development of pdf was the storied development of personal computers, and there is no need to rehearse that story here, since so many of its features are by now familiar: Douglas Engelbart and the demo; Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and the Alto; Microbrew, Macintosh, and Microsoft.31 N E A R P R I N T A N D B E YO N D PA P E R     121 pdf technology would become both thinkable and desirable in the context of personal computing in the 1980s, and its conception would stem in particular from the emergence of desktop publishing as an application for personal computers toward the middle of that decade.

On imposing, see John Moxon, Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (London, 1683–84), 2:223–33. 25. Charles P. Bourne and Trudi Bellardo Hahn, A History of Online Information Services, 1963–1976 (Cambridge, MA: mit Press, 2003), 64, 65. 26. Ibid., 326. 27. Ivan Edward Sutherland, “Sketchpad, A Man-­Machine Graphical Communication System,” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1963. 28. Thierry Bardini, Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000), 84. See also Michael Hiltzik, Dealers of Lightning: Xerox parc and the Dawn of the Computer Age (New York: Harper Collins, 1999), 90–91. 29. Ivan Edward Sutherland, “Sketchpad, A Man-­Machine Graphical Communication System,” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1963, 70–71. 30.


pages: 319 words: 90,965

The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere by Kevin Carey


Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, Vannevar Bush

It is hardwired into an enormous generator of business development and technological innovation, a machine fueled by money, ambition, idealism, and the iron laws of physics. That machine was created, beginning in the crucial period following World War II, to search for old, expensive institutions and burn them to the ground. And in the last several years it has turned its gaze toward the cathedrals of learning. — DOUGLAS ENGELBART grew up during the Great Depression on a farm outside Portland and studied at the nearby land-grant university, Oregon State. He was drafted into the Navy and found himself working as a radar technician on a small island in the Philippines, where he came across an article that had recently been published in the Atlantic: “As We May Think,” by Vannevar Bush. He spent the rest of his life making Bush’s prophecies come true.

After the war, Engelbart returned to the West Coast, completed his degree, and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, where he finished a PhD in electrical engineering with a specialization in computers in 1955. Berkeley hired him as an assistant professor the following year. He was on track to have the paradigmatic research university career, comfortably writing and thinking and teaching for as long as his mind and spirit could sustain him. But that’s not what happened. Instead, Douglas Engelbart walked away from academia, into a life that was similar in some respects and profoundly different in others. In 1957 he went to work at a company that shared the name and purpose of the Cold War university but not its nineteenth-century peculiarities: the Stanford Research Institute. The United States government acted on Vannevar Bush’s recommendations for scientific investment on a gargantuan scale.

They had built a small wooden box with rollers attached to a wire that was connected to computers. Moving the box back and forth on a table made the cursor on the screen move in the same direction. Bernard had never seen such a thing before and thought this was a nifty way to interact with computers, much better than doing everything with a keyboard. SRI’s oNLine system would run the new world of networked computers. The wooden box was called a “mouse.” — DOUGLAS ENGELBART never made much money from his inventions. The oNLine system migrated to Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, which didn’t quite know what to do with it. But two other people did: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who used windows, word processing, and the mouse, among other things, to become the defining IT businessmen of their time. Apple’s initial public offering in 1980 valued the company at over $1 billion, making instant millionaires of hundreds of employees and investors and establishing Silicon Valley as the source of not just innovation but dramatic wealth.


pages: 528 words: 146,459

Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan L. Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, Byte Shop, card file, cashless society, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, garden city movement, Grace Hopper, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the wheel, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, pirate software, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, young professional

The Macintosh was launched in 1984, and its user-friendliness was unrivaled for several years. COURTESY OF CHARLES BABBAGE INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA. The Osborne 1, announced spring 1981, was one of the first attempts at a portable personal computer. Although the machine would fit under an airplane seat, it was inconveniently heavy and was sometimes described as “luggable” rather than “portable.” COURTESY OF COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM. Douglas Engelbart established the Human Factors Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute in 1963. In the era before personal computers, he helped shape the way computers would be used for office work. This photograph, taken about 1968, shows him with his best-known invention, the point-and-click mouse, which subsequently became universal on desktop computers. COURTESY OF SRI INTERNATIONAL. Bill Gates has engendered more interest and controversy than any other figure in the history of the computer.

At the time he wrote those words, the intellectual problems involved in constructing a memex-type information system using computer technology had, in principle, been largely solved. J.C.R. Licklider, the head of ARPA’s Information Processing Techniques Office, for one, was working as early as 1962 on a project he called the Libraries of the Future, and he dedicated the book he published with that title: “however unworthy it may be, to Dr. Bush.” In the mid-1960s, Ted Nelson coined the term hypertext and Douglas Engelbart was working on the practical realization of similar ideas at the Stanford Research Institute. Both Nelson and Engelbart claim to have been directly influenced by Bush. Engelbart later recalled that, as a lowly electronics technician in the Philippines during World War II, he “found this article in Life magazine about his [Bush’s] memex, and it just thrilled the hell out of me that people were thinking about something like that. . . .

The history of the graphical user interface is authoritatively covered in A History of Personal Workstations, edited by Adele Goldberg (1988). The inside story of Xerox PARC is told in Michael Hiltzik’s Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age (1999) and in Douglas Smith and Robert Alexander’s earlier Fumbling the Future: How Xerox Invented, Then Ignored, the First Personal Computer (1988). Thierry Bardini’s Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (2000) does justice to a once-unsung hero of the personal-computer revolution. Books focusing on the Macintosh development include John Sculley’s insider account Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple (1987) and Steven Levy’s external view Insanely Great (1994). A selection of business histories of Microsoft (all of which discuss the Windows operating system) was listed in the notes to Chapter 10.


pages: 171 words: 54,334

Barefoot Into Cyberspace: Adventures in Search of Techno-Utopia by Becky Hogge, Damien Morris, Christopher Scally


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, disintermediation, Douglas Engelbart, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Naomi Klein, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks

So putting that kind of a positive feedback at the heart of the human process of communication and calculation and the rest of it, is pretty damn fundamental stuff and it is the kind of revolution that we thought psychedelic drugs was going to be.” Brand is talking about “Moore’s Law”, a now long-term trend in computer hardware that means computer processing power doubles roughly every two years. Moore’s Law was first identified by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore in 1965, who thought at the time that the trend was likely to continue until the min-1970s. In fact, Moore’s law is now expected to hold true until at least 2015. Douglas Engelbart, an electrical engineer who would later catch Brand’s attention, had intuitively understood Moore’s Law many years before it had been put into words, and in the late fifties and early sixties had set about designing the prototypes for components of the personal computers Engelbart was sure would result from this massive scaling of computer power. It was Brand’s encounters with Engelbart that switched him on to the cognitive potential of an alternate technology to psychedelics.

On occasion, the film shows only a flat blinking cursor, awaiting commands while a second green-on-black dot flits around the screen, controlled by Engelbart’s mechanical mouse, which he directs with his right hand. Thus Engelbart methodically demonstrates his cut-and-paste text editing, his hyperlinking, and his hierarchical file systems. The historic demonstration is celebrated among computer engineers to this day. What inspired Douglas Engelbart’s genius was as far away from the hippy culture in which Brand was ensconced as it is possible to get. In 1945, about a month before Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima, Vannevar Bush – the primary organiser of the Manhattan Project – published an essay in Atlantic Monthly called “As We May Think”. At the time, Bush was working as the chief administrator of the application of science to warfare: as Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, he coordinated the activities of some 6,000 scientists.


pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg


A Pattern Language, Berlin Wall,, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook,, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

In a 1945 essay titled “As We May Think,” Vannevar Bush, who oversaw the U.S. government’s World War II research program, unveiled his blueprint for the Memex, a desk console with tape recorders in its guts that would give a researcher ready access to a personal trove of knowledge. Bush’s Memex provided the nascent field of computing with its very own grail. For decades it would inspire visionary inventors to devise balky new technologies in an effort to deliver an upgrade to the human brain. By far the most ambitious and influential acolyte of the Memex dream was Douglas Engelbart, best known today as the father of the computer mouse. Engelbart, a former radar technician and student of Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics, woke up one day in 1950 with an epiphany: The world had so many problems, of such accelerating complexity, that humankind’s only hope of mastering them was to find ways to get smarter faster. He vowed to devote his life to developing a “Framework for the Augmentation of Human Intellect.”

“At PARC, our idea was, since you never step in the same river twice, the number one thing you want to make the user interface be is a learning environment—something that’s explorable in various ways, something that is going to change over the lifetime of the user using this environment.” In other words, as users learn new things from the computer, they can change it themselves to take advantage of what they’ve learned. Like Douglas Engelbart, Kay hoped that computers and their users would together form a positive feedback loop, a bootstrapping of the human brain. Kay is the kind of maverick who has been honored by many in his field but only selectively followed. Yet other central figures in the development of modern software share his complaint that the software profession has taken a fundamental wrong turn. As early as 1978, John Backus, the father of Fortran, was expressing parallel views.

James Fallows’s article on Agenda appeared in the Atlantic in May 1992. “In science the whole system builds”: Linus Torvalds, quoted in Business Week, August 18, 2004, at /aug2004/tc20040818_1593.htm. Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” first appeared in the Atlantic in July 1945. It is available at My account of Douglas Engelbart’s work draws on readings from his work collected at the Bootstrap Institute Web site at, as well as the accounts in Thierry Bardini, Bootstrapping (Stanford University Press, 2000); Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought (Simon & Schuster, 1985); and John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said (Viking, 2005). The video of Engelbart’s 1968 demo is at


pages: 400 words: 94,847

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen


Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart,, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, University of East Anglia, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge

Here, I describe a few of the sources that have most decisively influenced my thinking, and suggest further reading. Collective intelligence: The idea of using computers to amplify individual and collective human intelligence has a long history. Influential early works include Vannevar Bush’s celebrated article “As We May Think” [31], which described his imagined memex system, and inspired the seminal work of both Douglas Engelbart [63] and Ted Nelson [145]. Although these works are many decades old, they lay out much of what we see in today’s internet, and reveal vistas beyond. Aside from these foundational works, my ideas about collective intelligence have been strongly influenced by economic ideas. Herbert Simon [197] seems to have been the first person to have pointed out the crucial role of attention as a scarce resource in an information-rich world.

And, finally, Jane Jacobs’s masterpiece The Death and Life of Great American Cities [98] is a superb account of how very large groups tackle a core human problem: how to make a place to live. Networked science, in general: The potential of computers and the network to change the way science is done has been discussed by many people, and over a long period of time. Such discussion can be found in many of the works describd above, in particular the work of Vannevar Bush [31] and Douglas Engelbart [63]. Other notable works include those of Eric Drexler [57], Jon Udell [227], Christine Borgman [23], and Jim Gray [83]. See also Tim Berners-Lee’s original proposal for the world wide web, reprinted in [14]. A stimulating and enjoyable fictional depiction of networked science is Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End [231]. Data-driven science: One of the first people to understand and clearly articulate the value of data-driven science was Jim Gray, of Microsoft Research.


pages: 137 words: 36,231

Information: A Very Short Introduction by Luciano Floridi


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, carbon footprint, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of writing, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, RFID, Turing machine

There is no term for this radical form of re-engineering, so we may use re-ontologizing as a neologism to refer to a very radical form of re-engineering, one that not only designs, constructs, or structures a system (e.g. a company, a machine, or some artefact) anew, but that fundamentally transforms its intrinsic nature, that is, its ontology. In this sense, ICTs are not merely re-engineering but actually re-ontologizing our world. Looking at the history of the mouse (, for example, one discovers that our technology has not only adapted to, but also educated, us as users. Douglas Engelbart (born 1925) once told me that, when he was refining his most famous invention, the mouse, he even experimented with placing it under the desk, to be operated with one's leg, in order to leave the user's hands free. Human-Computer Interaction is a symmetric relation. To return to our distinction, while a dishwasher interface is a panel through which the machine enters into the user's world, a digital interface is a gate through which a user can be present in cyberspace.


The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Wiener process

Along the way, moreover, its re- mote terminals would plant the notion of a "home information center," an idea that would circulate in the technological community's collective consciousness until the 1970s, when it would inspire a slew of young hobbyists with names such as Jobs and Wozniak to market something called a microcomputer. Meanwhile, Tracy's dad was also gambling on a soft-spoken, rather lonely guy who had approached him on practically his first day at the Pentagon, and whose ideas on "augmenting the human intellect" had proved to be identical to his own notion of human-computer symbiosis. Douglas Engelbart had been a voice in the wilderness until then; his own bosses at SRI International, in what would soon become Silicon Valley, thought he was an absolute flake. But once Tracy's father had given him his first real funding-and vigorously defended him to his higher-ups-Engelbart, with his group, would go on to invent the mouse, on- screen windows, hypertext, full-screen word processing, and a host of other in- novations.

At age thirty- seven, ten years younger than Lick himself, he was a handsome, dark-haired, but THE PHENOMENA SURROUNDING COMPUTERS 211 rather lonely fellow-the quiet sort who ordinarily might not stick in your mem- ory. But then once you got to know him a bit, you saw that much of this man's quietness came from his habit of listening-deeply, profoundly listening to every- thing that was happening around him, and trying to work out its most funda- mental meaning. And then when he did talk, his soft, diffident baritone somehow managed to be hypnotic in its intensity. His name was Douglas Engelbart. It was in December 1950, says Doug Engelbart, thinking back to the morning when it all changed for him. He was twenty-five years old, and by every objec- tive measure, life was good. A decade earlier he'd been a semipoor teenager in the semirural outskirts of Portland, Oregon, still getting up every morning to milk the family cow. Now he was several years out of school, with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering plus two years' experience as a navy radar techni- cian.

Everybody was there: mainstream engineers from IBM and the other manufacturers, funding officers from the various research agencies, far-out ARPA contractors, enthusiastic grad- uate students-everybody. In those days, the fall and spring joint conferences were the only real computer meetings going. And the word was already out: the audi- torium was standing-room-only for the afternoon session. People were craning to get a glimpse through the doorways. This, everyone could tell, was not going to be your standard presentation. Down on the right-hand side of the stage, all alone, sat Douglas Engelbart. He was wearing a fresh white shirt and tie for the occasion, plus a set of head- phones that made him look for all the world like a NASA launch-control officer. Across his lap-pivoting from the arm of his chair, actually-he had a kind of console that featured a built-in keyboard in the middle, a tray on the right for holding an odd little box with some buttons on top and a cord coming out the end, and an identical tray on the left for holding an equally odd gadget with five metal keys.


pages: 423 words: 126,096

Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity by Edward Tenner


Bonfire of the Vanities, card file, Douglas Engelbart, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, indoor plumbing, informal economy, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Network effects, optical character recognition, QWERTY keyboard, Stewart Brand, women in the workforce

Sarah Handler and the author (London: Han-Shan Tang, 1986), 14–16, 19–21; Sarah Handler, Austere Luminosity of Chinese Classical Furniture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 9–24. 6. K. H. E. Kroemer, H. B. Kroemer, and K. E. Kroemer-Elbert, Ergonomics: How to Design for Ease and Efficiency (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1994), 365–69; Thierry Bardini, Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000), illustration section, n.p. 7. Ralph S. Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985), plate 12. 8. See Lorenz Homberger and Piet Meyer, “Concerning African Objects,” and Roy Sieber, “African Furniture Between Tradition and Colonization,” in Sandro Bocola, ed., African Seats (Munich: Prestel, 1996), 22–29 and 30–37, respectively. 9.

Norman’s The Psychology of Everyday Things (New York: Basic Books, 1988), now reprinted as The Design of Everyday Things, emphasizes the mental side of physical objects. The most important recent study of the body in today’s workplace is Shoshana Zuboff, In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power (New York: Basic Books, 1988). For the history of the visionary side of technology, mind, and body, there is Thierry Bardini’s Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000). In cyborg anthropology, the starting point is Donna Haraway, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991). Taking the theme into the Web era are Chris Hables Gray, Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age (New York: Routledge, 2001), and N. Katherine Hailes, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).


pages: 418 words: 128,965

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu


accounting loophole / creative accounting, Alfred Russel Wallace, Apple II, barriers to entry, British Empire, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, Menlo Park, open economy, packet switching, PageRank, profit motive, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

.…” The idea is one we take for granted now: computers would be used by humans in the process of thinking, as analytic aids rather than as calculators (the status quo) or as surrogates (the stuff of fantasy).4 The idea wasn’t Licklider’s alone. As with other conceptual leaps we’ve described, several individuals also made it at about the same time. Ten years before Licklider wrote his paper, for instance, a young engineer named Douglas Engelbart was pondering what he might do with his life. He was recently married yet felt himself lost, an idealist in search of a meaningful contribution. One evening in 1950 he was struck with a powerful vision: a general purpose machine that might augment human intelligence and help humans negotiate life’s complexities. John Markoff, who has documented Engelbart’s life carefully, describes the vision in some detail: Engelbart “saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols.

But those ideas have also long been at odds with the principles of the early computing industry, of the Apple II and of the Internet, sometimes to the detriment of Apple itself. As Wozniak told me, the Macintosh, launched in 1984, marked a departure from many of his ideas as realized in the Apple II. To be sure, the Macintosh was radically innovative in its own right, being the first important mass-produced computer to feature a “mouse” and a “desktop”—ideas born in the mind of Douglas Engelbart in the 1950s, ideas that had persisted without fructifying in computer science labs ever since.* Nevertheless the Mac represented an unconditional surrender of Wozniak’s openness, as was obvious from the first glance: gone was the concept of the hood. You could no longer easily open the computer and get at its innards. Generally, only Apple stuff, or stuff that Apple approved, could run on it (as software) or plug into it (as peripherals).


pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

They established research laboratories roughly equidistant from the Stanford University campus. In 1964 John McCarthy, a mathematician and computer scientist who had coined the term “artificial intelligence,” began designing a set of technologies that were intended to simulate human capabilities, a project he believed could be completed in just a decade. At the same time, on the other side of campus, Douglas Engelbart, who was a dreamer intent on using his expertise to improve the world, believed that computers should be used to “augment” or extend human capabilities, rather than to mimic or replace them. He set out to create a system to permit small groups of knowledge workers to quickly amplify their intellectual powers and work collaboratively. One researcher attempted to replace human beings with intelligent machines, while the other aimed to extend human capabilities.

Beneath the veneer of science, however, the Pentagon was funding the project with the notion that it might one day lead to a military robot capable of tracking the enemy without risking lives of U.S. or allied soldiers. Shakey was not only the touchstone for much of modern AI research as well as projects leading to the modern augmentation community—it was also the original forerunner of the military drones that now patrol the skies over Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Shakey exemplified the westward migration of computing and early artificial intelligence research during the 1960s. Although Douglas Engelbart, whose project was just down the hall, was a West Coast native, many others were migrants. Artificial intelligence as a field of study was originally rooted in a 1956 Dartmouth College summer workshop where John McCarthy was a young mathematics professor. McCarthy had been born in 1927 in Boston of an Irish Catholic father and Lithuanian Jewish mother, both active members of the U.S. Communist Party.


pages: 566 words: 122,184

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold


Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Eratosthenes, Grace Hopper, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, millennium bug, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, popular electronics, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

One of the first people to envision a new era of interactive computing was Ivan Sutherland (born 1938), who in 1963 demonstrated a revolutionary graphics program he had developed for the SAGE computers named Sketchpad. Sketchpad could store image descriptions in memory and display the images on the video display. In addition, you could use the light pen to draw images on the display and change them, and the computer would keep track of it all. Another early visionary of interactive computing was Douglas Engelbart (born 1925), who read Vannevar Bush's article "As We May Think" when it was published in 1945 and five years later began a lifetime of work developing new ideas in computer interfaces. In the mid-1960s, while at the Sanford Research Institute, Engelbart completely rethought input devices and came up with a five-pronged keyboard for entering commands (which never caught on) and a smaller device with wheels and a button that he called a mouse.

Graphical objects (such as buttons and menus and little pictures called icons) became part of the user interface. The mouse was used for selecting windows or triggering the graphical objects to perform program functions. This was software that went beyond the user interface into user intimacy, software that facilitated the extension of the computer into realms beyond those of simple number crunching. This was software that was designed—to quote the title of a legendary paper written by Douglas Engelbart in 1963—"for the Augmentation of Man's Intellect." What PARC developed in the Alto was the beginnings of the graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). But Xerox didn't sell the Alto (one would have cost over $30,000 if they had), and over a decade passed before the ideas in the Alto would be embodied in a successful consumer product. In 1979, Steve Jobs and a contingent from Apple Computer visited PARC and were quite impressed with what they saw.


pages: 509 words: 132,327

Rise of the Machines: A Cybernetic History by Thomas Rid


1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, connected car, domain-specific language, Douglas Engelbart, dumpster diving, Extropian, full employment, game design, global village, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telepresence, V2 rocket, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y2K, Yom Kippur War, Zimmermann PGP

The effect of psychedelic drugs on society, to Rossman, could just as well be expressed in the language of engineering: “In the cybernetic description of process,” he wrote, “the corresponding passage is to a higher order of control—one that makes possible heterarchical rather than hierarchical control systems.”40 What he meant was simple: counterculture was changing established power structures. Top down was the past; bottom up was the future. That’s where technology came in. Rossman understood already in 1969 that computers had a key role to play in the future. As the free-speech activist was considering writing a book, the inventor Douglas Engelbart gave what became known as “the mother of all demos,” a now legendary ninety-minute presentation at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. Engelbart introduced the prototype of the first mouse and the vision of a personal computer, a computer that could be owned and operated by everybody, not only IBM and the Pentagon. To Rossman, that meant technology wasn’t on the side of authority any longer.

Slippery (fictional character), 266, 293 “Music in Cyberspace” (Barlow), 232 mutation, 117, 150 MVD (Ministry of the Interior, Russia), 330, 331 mythologies, form of, xiv–xv myths, cybernetic, See cybernetic myths NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), 11, 12 NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and cyberspace, 220 cyborgs and space travel, 127–28 and data gloves, 215 Engineering Man for Space: The Cyborg Study, 127–28 founding of, 123 Philco and, 140 and Whole Earth Catalog, 168 NASw-512 project, 127–28 Natick Laboratories, Massachusetts Hardiman exoskeleton, 137 National Academy of Sciences, 25 National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), 11, 12 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, See NASA National Defense Research Committee (NDRC) Division C, 25 Division T, 28 establishment of, 12 fire control division, 29 microwave research, 19 radar, 17 Rad Lab, 21 VT fuse, 35 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), 274 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 320 National Research Council, 12 National Science Foundation, 253 national security, cybernetic myths and, xv National Security Agency, See NSA National Technical Information Service, 324 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 208 NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command), 316 NDRC, See National Defense Research Committee negative feedback defined, 49 and enchantment of the machine, 351 for Headsight, 139 and homeostat, 56 in Psycho-Cybernetics, 164 and Whole Earth Catalog, 171–72 nervous system, as machine, 63 Netscape, 244 networked machines, 122, 147–48, 251 networks, 2–3, 180, 222 Neuromancer (Gibson), ix–x, 189, 210–12, 242 neuroses, 58 New Age movement, 165–66 “New Directions in Cryptography,” 251 New Economy, 246–47 Newsweek magazine, 73 New York Times Hap Arnold article, 74 and cybernation, 102 and cybernetics, 53 Cybernetics reviews, 51–52 NSA encryption story, 271 and VR, 219 New York Yankees, 164–65 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 140, 291 Nigh, Ron, 171 Nike missile, 78 9/11 terrorist attacks, 338–39 NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), 274 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), 320 nonexistent systems, 69 no-notice interoperability exercises, 311 non-secret encryption, 248, 250; See also public-key encryption NORAD (North American Air Defense Command), 77, 99 NSA (National Security Agency) and the Clipper Chip, 274 cyber-related work, x and cypherpunks, 269–71 and “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” 245 and Eligible Receiver, 311–13 and Moonlight Maze, 327, 328, 337 and public-key encryption, 253, 254, 258 and VR, 243 nuclear-powered aircraft, 128–31, 135–36 nuclear war, 208 nuclear weapons, 45, 73–76 “Numbers Can Be a Better Form of Cash Than Paper” (Chaum), 257 Nunn, Sam, 310 Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 280 Office of Naval Research, 136–37, 253 Omni magazine, 149, 243, 294–98, 301–2 OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) loop, 300 Operation Desert Storm, 302 Operation Sundevil, 238–40 Optik, Phiber (Mark Abele), 237, 238 Orenstein, Peggy, 240–41, 243 organic chemistry, 119 organic machines, 113–14 organism-environment interaction, 57–61, 64–67 organisms, 113–55 computers as thinking machines, 120–22 cyborg research, 123–27 cyborgs, feminism, and postmodernism, 151–54 and man-machine interaction, 143–48 military research on cyborgs, 128–40 and participant evolution, 140–41 radio-controlled cyborg, 138–40 self-reproducing machines as plants, 118–19 ultraintelligent machines, 148–49 viruses as, 115 originality, machine’s potential for, 120–21 Other Plane, 207, 208, 266, 288 Owens, William, 306 PACOM (US Pacific Command), 311–13 Palo Alto, California, 177, 181, 259, 264 Palomilla (tricycle cart), 83–84 Paradise Lost (Milton), 91 Parkinson, David, 23–24 Parkinson’s disease, robotic modeling of, 83–84 Parsons, Talcott, 52 participant evolution, 140–41 Partridge, Earle, 77 patriarchy, 152, 153 Patrick, Robert, 154 Patton, George, 28 Paul Proteus (fictional character), 86 Pavlov, Ivan, 62 PDP-10 mainframe computer, 181–82 Pearl Harbor, Japanese attack on, 20, 32 Pedipulator, 132–34 Pentagon, See Defense, US Department of Pentagon Papers, 254 Persian Gulf War (1990-1991), 246, 302, 305 personal computer and Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl ad, 187–88 Douglas Engelbart and, 173 William Gibson and, 211–12 Timothy Leary and, 187–89 and second wave of hackers, 184 pessimism, See dystopia peyote, 185 PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), 261, 272–73 Philco Corporation, 137–40 Phreak, Acid (Elias Ladopoulos), 237–39 physico-chemical system, nervous system as, 64 physics, nonexistent systems and, 69 PicoSpan software, 191, 193 Pile, Sir Frederick, 38–41 pip (radar image), 17 pipology, 18 plants, self-reproducing machines as, 118–19 Playboy magazine, 121–22 Player Piano (Vonnegut), 86–87 political activists, 341 political myths, xiv, xv Popular Mechanics, 132–33, 205–6 Post, Jonathan, 294–98 postmodernism, 151–54 Powell, Colin, 302, 303 Powell Doctrine, 302 power grid, 313 prime numbers, 250, 252 Princeton University, 29, 114, 115, 117 Principality of Sealand, 287–91 printing, as predecessor to crypto anarchy, 268 privacy anonymity and, 272 encryption and, 247, 256–61 programming languages, 213 progress, thinking machines and, 4 Project 2, 25 Prometheus, 343 prostheses, 50–51 proximity fuse, 26–27, 40, 41, 67 pseudonyms, 277, 281–82 pseudoscience, 160–62 psychedelic drugs, 172–73 Gregory Bateson and, 179 and computers, 189 High Frontiers magazine, 185–87 and human bio-computer, 188 and Spacewar, 182 Psycho-Cybernetics (Maltz), 162–65, 169, 345 psychopharmacology, 123 public-key encryption, 247, 248–55, 278 punk, 246 “Push-Button Warfare” (Newsweek article), 73 “Putting Humans into Virtual Space” (Furness and Kocian), 205 Queen Mu (Alison Bailey Kennedy), 263 R2-D2, 204 radar, 17–21, 80–81 radar stations, 77, 99 radio-controlled cyborg, 138–40 radio shell, 27–28, 40 Rad Lab, See MIT Radiation Laboratory RAF (Royal Air Force) Fighter Command, 8, 30 Rand, Ayn, 258 Rand Corporation, 111, 303–5, 309–10 Randolph Air Force Base (San Antonio, Texas), 122–24 range computer, 24 Rather, Dan, 203 read-only memory (ROM), 23 Reality Hackers magazine, 218–19 Rees-Mogg, Lord William, 285 relationships, technology and, 2–3 religion and cybernetic myth, 348 God and Golem, Inc., 89–92 and spiritual aspects of cybernetics, 348 remailers, 272–73, 291 reproduction, See self-replicating machines Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), 302–3, 306 Rheingold, Howard, 232, 235–37, 242 Riley, Frank, 87–88 Rivest, Ron, 251–54 RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs), 302–3, 306 robot (term), 83 robot bomb, 40–41; See also V-1 (Vergeltungswaffe 1) flying bomb Rockland State Hospital (Orangeburg, New York), 123–24 Roger Pollack (fictional character), 207 Rolling Stone, 181 ROM (read-only memory), 23 Ronfelt, David, 303–5, 309 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 12 Rorvik, David, 141–42 Rosenblueth, Arturo, 46, 52, 56 Rossman, Michael, 172–73 Roughs Tower, 287 Royal Air Force (RAF) Fighter Command, 8, 30 rue, Larry, 9 R.U.R.


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

Kelly at Johns Hopkins University, restriction enzymes are found in bacteria and can cut DNA at specific sequences, thus paving the way for the future of recombinant DNA molecules. GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE (1968—1974) The use of visual metaphors to represent data on a computer screen, along with the concept of a mouse as pointing device, dates back to a legendary demo by the Stanford professor Douglas Engelbart. Elements of the GUI were also evident in Ivan Sutherland’s 1963 program Sketchpad. The idea was refined and expanded by the Xerox PARC lab in the early 1970s. INTERNET (1970--1975) Assisted by many other computer scientists, the American Vinton Cerf designed and created the original model of the Internet, building on his early research and experiments with packet-switching networks, supported by the U.S.


pages: 270 words: 79,992

The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath by Nicco Mele


3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, business climate, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative editing, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, death of newspapers, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart,, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, Hacker Ethic, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Mohammed Bouazizi, Mother of all demos, Narrative Science, new economy, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, pirate software, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, uranium enrichment, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

Today, small computing has won out—in part because of the momentum of Moore’s Law.8 While the work of building a big mind is still around (remember when IBM’s Big Blue supercomputer beat Garry Kasparov at chess?), the small computer side has birthed a range of technologies culminating in your current Droid or iPhone. There is a particular hero to this strand of American nerd-ocity, one whose story begins to elucidate the political ideology behind the personal computer, and he is the computer scientist Douglas Engelbart. “The Mother of All Demos” A product of the greatest generation that fought World War II, Engelbart had a sense of the United States’ grandeur and majesty when dedicated to a great challenge, and during the 1950s and 60s he was looking for the next great challenge. Inspired by Vannevar Bush’s article “As We May Think,” which championed the wider dissemination of knowledge as a national peacetime challenge, Engelbart imagined people sitting at “working stations”9 and coming together in powerful ways thanks to modern computing.


pages: 287 words: 86,919

Protocol: how control exists after decentralization by Alexander R. Galloway


Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, phenotype, post-industrial society, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, semantic web, SETI@home, stem cell, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, the market place, theory of mind, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Review, working poor

Wiener also writes that the “control of a machine on the basis of its actual performance rather than its expected performance is known as feedback” (p. 24). 83. Wiener, Cybernetics, p. 26. 84. Many others have followed in Wiener’s footsteps. In 1960 J. C. R. Licklider, an early theorist and researcher of computer networks, wrote about what he called the “man-machine symbiosis.” Marshall McLuhan also claimed that technology itself is nothing but an extension of man’s nervous system. Computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart considered technology to be simply an augmentation of the human faculties. For relevant texts by Licklider and Engelbart, see Randall Packer and Ken Jordan, Multimedia: From Wagner to Virtual Reality (New York: Norton, 2001). Other theorists such as Donna Haraway have quite literally fused human and Chapter 3 106 Wiener’s prose is tinged by anxiety over what he considered to be the vast potential for his scientific work to contribute to the “concentration of power . . . in the hands of the most unscrupulous.”85 Writing in the shadow of World War II and the atomic bomb, Wiener exhibits a grave concern, not only with the bomb but also with more general social exploitation, be it in the form of a recently defeated Nazism or a once more bullish American capitalism (he does not tell readers which).


pages: 339 words: 112,979

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Mahatma Gandhi, music of the spheres, Necker cube, p-value, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steven Pinker, Zipf's Law

I just wanted to point I toyed with using a joystick, as supplied for computer games, but couldn't work out how to do it. I overwhelmingly felt that the software I wanted to write was held up for want of a critical hardware breakthrough. Later I discovered that the device I desperately needed, but wasn't clever enough to imagine, had in fact been invented much earlier. That device was, of course, the mouse. The mouse was a hardware advance, conceived in the 1960s by Douglas Engelbart who foresaw that it would make possible a new kind of software. This software innovation we now know, in its developed form, as the Graphical User Interface, or GUI, developed in the 1970s by the brilliantly creative team at Xerox PARC, that Athens of the modern world. It was cultivated into commercial success by Apple in 1983, then copied by other companies under names like VisiOn, GEM and—the most commercially successful today—Windows.


pages: 384 words: 89,250

Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America by Giles Slade


Albert Einstein, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Buckminster Fuller, Cass Sunstein, Douglas Engelbart, global village, housing crisis, indoor plumbing, invention of radio, Joseph Schumpeter, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, Ralph Nader, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the market place, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, women in the workforce

It was rather like having to understand a carburetor in order to be able to drive an automobile.38 Prior to the appearance of the Mac, only one company had simplifie its user interface and greatly reduced the demands of the rigorous DOS learning curve for its operators. Between 1973 and 1975 Xerox Corporation designed and built a personal computer called the Alto at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The Alto’s interface was originally called WIMP, an acronym for Windows, Icons, Mouse, and Pull-down menus. At the center of its graphical user interface was the mouse, a device that had been invented in 1965 by Douglas Engelbart, head of the Human Factors Research Center, a work group that studied the Man and computer interface (or Mac) at the Stanford Research Institute. Engelbart based his invention on an obsolete engineering tool called the planimeter, an antiquated device once as common as a slide rule. When an engineer moved the planimeter over the surface of a curve, it calculated the underlying area. Engelbart’s SRI team experimented with several other pointing devices, all of which were intended as alternatives to overcome the limitations of the standard qwerty typewriter.


pages: 379 words: 109,612

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future by John Brockman


A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asperger Syndrome, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, biofilm, Black Swan, British Empire, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Danny Hillis, Douglas Engelbart, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of writing, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, out of africa, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, social graph, social software, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

I urge researchers and educators to look more systematically where I’m pointing. When I started out as a freelance writer in the 1970s, my most important tools were a library card, a typewriter, a notebook, and a telephone. In the early 1980s, I became interested in the people at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) who were using computers to edit text without physically cutting, pasting, and retyping pages. Through PARC, I discovered Douglas Engelbart, who had spent the first decade of his career trying to convince somebody, anybody, that using computers to augment human intellect was not a crazy idea. Engelbart set out in the early 1960s to demonstrate that computers could be used to automate low-level cognitive support tasks, such as cutting, pasting, and revising text, and also to enable intellectual tools, such as the hyperlink, that weren’t possible with Gutenberg-era technology.


pages: 352 words: 96,532

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner, Matthew Lyon


air freight, Bill Duvall, computer age, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, fault tolerance, Hush-A-Phone, information retrieval, Kevin Kelly, Menlo Park, natural language processing, packet switching, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy

Few ARPA principal investigators wanted to participate in the experiment. This attitude was especially pronounced among researchers from the East Coast universities, who saw no reason to link up with campuses in the West. They were like the upper-crust woman on Beacon Hill who, when told that long-distance telephone service to Texas was available, echoed Thoreau’s famous line: “But what would I possibly have to say to anyone in Texas?” Douglas Engelbart, a computer scientist at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in 1967, remembered the meeting clearly. “One of the first reactions was, ‘Oh hell, here I’ve got this time-sharing computer, and my resources are scarce as it is.’ Another reaction was, ‘Why would I let my graduate students get sucked off into something like this?’” Nonetheless, it quickly became clear just how serious Roberts was.


pages: 481 words: 121,669

The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See by Gary Price, Chris Sherman, Danny Sullivan


AltaVista, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, business intelligence, dark matter, Douglas Engelbart, full text search, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, joint-stock company, knowledge worker, natural language processing, pre–internet, profit motive, publish or perish, search engine result page, side project, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Ted Nelson, Vannevar Bush, web application

This is a case where a general-purpose search engine failed to find the desired end result, but was indispensable in helping Wally locate the “front door” of the Invisible Web database that ultimately provided what he was looking for. This is why both general-purpose search engines and Invisible Web databases should be integral parts of your own Web search toolkit. Incidentally, U.S. Patent 3541541 is one of the early patents for what evolved into the computer mouse. When the patent was issued to inventor Douglas Engelbart in 1970, he called it an “X and Y Position Indicator.” And what about Patent Number 5187468, which turned up in all of the search engine results? That was awarded to the Microsoft Corporation in 1993 for a “Pointing device with adjustable clamp attachable to a keyboard”—essentially a mouse that attaches directly to a computer keyboard. Note: Searching for patents can be very difficult and time consuming.


pages: 397 words: 110,130

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better by Clive Thompson


3D printing, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, butterfly effect, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Glaeser,, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, iterative process, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, patent troll, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, spaced repetition, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, Vannevar Bush, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, X Prize, éminence grise

Shuffling paragraphs could spark new connections and ideas; plus, working in such a forcibly slow fashion can push your brain into connective, dreamy modes. This is precisely why it’s still a good idea, even today, to step away from your laptop and work out a problem on paper: cognitive diversity, again. But adding the speed and flexibility of the word processor to our tool kit has been a huge boon to thought. In his visionary 1962 essay “Augmenting Human Intellect,” Douglas Engelbart—a pioneer of the computer mouse and the files-and-folders graphical desktop—dreamed of the way cutting and pasting would one day transform our thinking. Writers equipped with electronic word processors, he prophesied, would become superior brainstormers, able to jot down ideas as rapidly as they came, then slowly hone them at leisure. We wouldn’t lose our trains of thought so easily. Stray ideas could be preserved.


pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy


23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

Berners-Lee could sum up his vision in a sentence: “Suppose all the information stored on computers everywhere were linked … there would be a single global information space.” The web’s pedigree could be traced back to a 1945 paper by the American scientist Vannevar Bush. Entitled “As We May Think,” it outlined a vast storage system called a “memex,” where documents would be connected, and could be recalled, by information breadcrumbs called “trails of association.” The timeline continued to the work of Douglas Engelbart, whose team at the Stanford Research Institute devised a linked document system that lived behind a dazzling interface that introduced the metaphors of windows and files to the digital desktop. Then came a detour to the brilliant but erratic work of an autodidact named Ted Nelson, whose ambitious Xanadu Project (though never completed) was a vision of disparate information linked by “hypertext” connections.


pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells


Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, borderless world, British Empire, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, planetary scale, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl

Behind the development of the Internet there was the scientific, institutional, and personal networks cutting across the Defense Department, National Science Foundation, major research universities (particularly MIT, UCLA, Stanford, University of Southern California, Harvard, University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of California at Berkeley), and specialized technological think-tanks, such as MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, SRI (formerly Stanford Research Institute), Palo Alto Research Corporation (funded by Xerox), ATT’s Bell Laboratories, Rand Corporation, and BBN (Bolt, Beranek & Newman). Key technological players in the 1960s–1970s were, among others, J. C. R. Licklider, Paul Baran, Douglas Engelbart (the inventor of the mouse), Robert Taylor, Ivan Sutherland, Lawrence Roberts, Alex McKenzie, Robert Kahn, Alan Kay, Robert Thomas, Robert Metcalfe, and a brilliant computer science theoretician Leonard Kleinrock, and his cohort of outstanding graduate students at UCLA, who would become some of the key minds behind the design and development of the Internet: Vinton Cerf, Stephen Crocker, Jon Postel, among others.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

Resolution at the User layer may prove decisive in some ways, but very different from how one might expect and perhaps from “human” in any normal sense. The world is still full of pre-Copernicans, across the political spectrum, and disturbances to human privilege will continue to invite violent pushback. The status of the User as a political and technological creature will stage much of this conflict to come, and it will draw both our deepest intelligence and stupidity to the surface. An early work by Douglas Engelbart from 1960 is “Special Considerations of the Individual as User, Generator, and Retriever of Information.” Among the considerable effects for “the individual” of Engelbart's later work, as one of the key designers of many of the interfacial systems we today take for granted (he was key contributor to the design of the mouse, pointer, and pull-down menu, among other techniques), has been the conflation of the use, generation, and retrieval of information under a single actor, the User.


pages: 636 words: 202,284

Piracy : The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns


banking crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, business intelligence, Corn Laws, demand response, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Marshall McLuhan, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pirate software, Republic of Letters, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, software patent, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, traveling salesman, Whole Earth Catalog

In the twenties FTC continued to defy the radio trust, recruiting radio amateurs to assist in circumventing patent restrictions while winking at local emulators of its own technology. A Palo Alto industry dedicated to advanced technologies developed alongside it that was antithetical to patent pools. The cluster of research institutions that subsequently emerged in the area drew on this tradition. The three principal sites – Douglas Engelbart’s Augmented Human Intellect Research Center, exMIT professor John McCarthy’s Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and, a little later, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center – embraced an understanding of the computer as another key to a liberating democratization of thinking and acting. The commitment to openness therefore shifted from a technocratic maxim to a democratic one. It became a mode of emancipation at once practical, selfimproving, and utopian.


pages: 781 words: 226,928

Commodore: A Company on the Edge by Brian Bagnall


Apple II, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, Douglas Engelbart, Firefox, game design, index card, inventory management, Isaac Newton, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson

The conference was three times the size of the West Coast Computer Faire, drawing in over 36,000 attendees. Peddle remembers the experience. “It was in the middle of summer in Dallas. The first two floors of this big convention center are set up for all the big computer guys. It’s a dog-and-pony show with IBM limousines and all that s**t.” The very first National Computer Conference was four years earlier, in New York City. The conference regularly attracted such distinguished speakers as Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse. Normally the conference was the domain of the larger computer companies. The industry commonly referred to the big eight computer companies as “IBM and the seven dwarfs,” which included Univac, Burroughs, Scientific Data Systems, Control Data Corporation, General Electric, RCA and Honeywell. Other major attendees at the show included Memorex, National Semiconductor, Datapoint, and Sperry.