The 1968 Demo

Douglas C. Engelbart | SRI ARC

Courtesy of the Doug Engelbart Institute / March 2017


"A Research Center for Augmenting the Human Intellect" - where and how this presentation is produced.
Opening Remarks
Doug welcomes the audience to this "unusual setting."
NLS Editing & View Control
Doug shows basic interactive editing and jumping, employing optional views taking advantage of the hierarchical structure, using a verb-noun command language.
NLS Hypermedia
Doug flips between text and graphical views, easily traversing the information.
Putting it to Work
Shifting from illustrative material, to the real working stuff. We use this system to do our daily work. More on this later.


[slight detour] | NOTE: The research agenda stems from Doug's Conceptual Framework, covered here under Goals, Approach, and For Augmenting Human Intellect.
The Augmented Human Intellect Research Center (AHIRC) | Located within SRI | Staffed by 17 people | Sponsored by government agencies.
1. Improve effectiveness of individuals/organizations to work at intellectual tasks: better/faster solutions, to more complex problems, with better use of human capabilities.
2. Develop a system-oriented discipline for designing the means by which greater effectiveness is achieved.
Following the general approach: EMPIRICAL | EVOLUTIONARY | WHOLE-SYSTEM | BOOTSTRAPPING [an innovation strategy designed by Doug to accelerate results]


For Augmenting Human Intellect
NLS is an instrument/vehicle for helping humans to operate within the domain of complex information structures.
By "operate" we mean compose, study, modify | For "complex structures" where content represents concepts, and structure represents relationships of human-thought product, generally too complex for direct human study.
Where linear text falls short, here we can represent structures within a computer, you can move about rapidly, and see what you want to see in any given moment.
These together with the bootstrapping told us where to start: building an instrument we can use day to day to organize the working information we need as a task force developing systems.


Diving into the implementation, beginning with control techniques.
Control Devices
1. Mouse*: A pointing device with control buttons, *demonstrated by Don Andrews.
2. Keyboard: Standard keyboard plus a few control keys
3. Keyset: To enter text or commands while other hand is busy with the mouse; 31 keystroke combinations allow for 26 letters of the alphabet and more [end of Reel #1]
Control Dialog [begin Reel #2]
Using repertoire of command verbs and nouns with feedback from the system (e.g. typing "ic" causes 'Insert Character") | single-stroke viewspecs | driving with both hands
Control Metalanguage
Provide for each user's preferences and proficiencies with their particular devices and repertoire of control dialog; more on this later from NLS architect Jeff Rulifson.


Hardware Design
1. Workstation Controller: Extended the SDS940 with Drum Storage, Disc Storage, Display Sys 1 & 2 (for 6 displays), Input Controller, Printer & ARPANetwork Coupling | how it runs
2. Display System*: [*live from Menlo Park] the computer displays image on small screen (we are seeing what's on Doug's display), dedicated TV camera generates a video signal out to user console; service for 12 consoles
NLS Software Design
Program Structure*: [*Jeff Rulifson from Menlo Park] Jeff gives a tour the software environment in NLS; same commands for jumping, viewing, editing, linking, navigating the structure
Special Languages: two kinds of code, and a compiler-compiler, can easily edit them for rapid prototyping | System Guide: while here, Jeff shows notes they leave for each other, and how NLS tracks user edits
Doug asks go back to the command metalanguage, to walk through the dialog protocol as a case example; the code is intuitive to the user, a training aid of sorts.


Doug recaps Software Programming as an excellent case example of application.
Application Examples
User documentation | Paper Studying | Printout Directives [skips] | Joint File Usage [end of Reel #2]
Application Examples (cont) [begin Reel #3]
| Open House Duty Roster | Hardware Design Documentation | System Analysis Records (skipped)
Collaboration Support*
NLS is tool for individuals and collaboration, including video conference
*Bill Paxton beams in, a "bug fight" ensues.
Information Retrieval*
"Hot" Retrieval: (direct and indirect)
"Cold" Retrieval:
*Co-Presenter: Bill Paxton from Menlo Park.


System Development
Service System Development | User System Development (touches on these briefly) | the two are explicitly separate
Management System
ARPA Network
Network Information Center
Our "Product"
A sample Augmentation System | An Augmentation System for augmenting computer-system development | Design principles for developing Augmentation Systems


AHI Supporting Staff
Producer: Special thanks to Bill English for pulling this all together | Supporting Staff: Ed van de Riet, Martin Hardy, Roger Bates, John Yarborough, Steve Paavola |
Event Coordinator: Dave Evans |
Presenters: Don Andrews, Jeff Rulifson, Bill Paxton for all their hard work preparing and presenting
Others Giving Support
SRI - general support | Stewart Brand, Portola Institute - consultation, camera, assistant stage | John Dusterberry, Ames Research Lab NACA - loan of Eidophor projector | Eugene Warren, T&T Communications - Eidophor support | Tasker Instruments | Phone Company
-> Custom Console: Special thanks to Herman Miller Research for this custom control and display console, and for their ongoing collaboration
In Closing
Special thanks again to the tremendous AHI team | Special thanks and dedication of this whole presentation to Doug's wife and kids