Douglas Engelbart

Definition of Douglas Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart is not a technology term, but rather the name of an American inventor, engineer, and computer pioneer. He is best known for his groundbreaking work in developing the computer mouse and the concepts of hypertext and graphical user interfaces. Additionally, Engelbart made significant contributions to human-computer interaction, computer networking, and collaborative computing.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Douglas Engelbart” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/ˈduːɡləs ˈɛŋɡəlbɑːrt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Douglas Engelbart was a pioneer in computer and internet technologies, focusing on human-computer interaction and inventing the computer mouse.
  2. His groundbreaking 1968 “Mother of All Demos” showcased numerous innovations, including hypertext, video conferencing, and real-time collaboration tools, which became the basis for many modern technologies.
  3. Engelbart was a visionary in augmenting human intellect and promoting the concept of “bootstrapping” – using technology to improve the effectiveness of individuals and organizations, thus speeding up the process of solving complex problems.

Importance of Douglas Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart is a significantly important figure in the field of technology due to his numerous revolutionary inventions and contributions that have shaped the modern computing landscape.

He is best known for inventing the computer mouse, a ubiquitous device that transformed the way people interact with computers.

Engelbart’s groundbreaking work on interactive computing systems at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the 1960s led to the development of graphical user interfaces, hypertext, networked computers, and collaborative technologies that paved the way for personal computing and the rise of the Internet.

By pioneering these technologies, Douglas Engelbart has left an indelible impact on the world of technology, directly influencing the way we work, learn, and communicate today.


Douglas Engelbart was an influential American engineer, inventor, and pioneer in the field of computer science. His purpose was to enhance human intellect and augment people’s ability to problem-solve collectively using technology. Best known for inventing the computer mouse, Engelbart was instrumental in laying the groundwork for numerous technologies we take for granted today, such as hypermedia, graphical user interfaces, and the Internet.

He believed that technology should be used to improve communication and collaboration, thus accelerating societal progress. His lifelong pursuit of knowledge and innovation sought to empower users and provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in an increasingly complex and digital world. At the core of Engelbart’s work was his belief in the power of networked computing to unlock humanity’s full potential.

His groundbreaking research at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) culminated in the 1968 “Mother of All Demos,” where he demonstrated the first interactive computing system, NLS (oN-Line System). This revolutionary system featured innovations that remain integral to modern computing, including the first use of a mouse, hyperlinks, and real-time collaboration tools. It also paved the way for the development of ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet. Engelbart’s visionary work laid the foundation for modern-day computing, and his commitment to using technology to improve human intellect remains an inspiration for innovators and tech enthusiasts worldwide.

Examples of Douglas Engelbart

Douglas Engelbart was an American engineer and inventor who made significant contributions to the development of modern computing and interface technologies. Here are three real-world examples of his work:

The Computer Mouse: Engelbart’s most famous invention is the computer mouse, a device he created in 1963 while working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). The first prototype, made of wood, used two perpendicular wheels to track the movement of the user’s hand. The computer mouse revolutionized the way users interacted with computer systems and laid the foundation for graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

The Mother of All Demos: In a 1968 presentation called “The Mother of All Demos,” Engelbart showcased a series of groundbreaking technologies he and his team had developed at SRI. These included the concept of windows and the graphical user interface (GUI), the use of hyperlinks for navigating between documents, real-time editing and collaboration tools, and video conferencing. These innovations served as a blueprint for many aspects of modern personal computing and influenced the development of systems like Apple’s Macintosh and Microsoft’s Windows.

Augmenting Human Intellect: Engelbart’s broader vision was to create systems and technologies that would “augment human intellect” by enabling people to work together more effectively and efficiently. His 1962 paper, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” outlined and demonstrated the potential for computers to be used as an extension of the human mind and as tools for creative problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. This vision has informed the design and development of numerous technologies, including the World Wide Web, collaborative software, and online learning platforms.

FAQs about Douglas Engelbart

1. Who was Douglas Engelbart?

Douglas Engelbart was an American engineer and inventor, best known for his pioneering work on human-computer interaction, particularly the invention of the computer mouse and the development of hypertext systems. He also made significant contributions to the fields of computer networking and collaborative computing.

2. When and where was Douglas Engelbart born?

Douglas Engelbart was born on January 30, 1925, in Portland, Oregon, USA.

3. What are Douglas Engelbart’s most significant accomplishments?

Douglas Engelbart’s most significant accomplishments include inventing the computer mouse, developing the concept of hypertext, creating the NLS (oN-Line System) for computer-based collaboration, and helping to establish the field of human-computer interaction through his groundbreaking research.

4. What was the purpose of the Mother of All Demos?

The Mother of All Demos, which took place on December 9, 1968, was a large-scale demonstration of Douglas Engelbart’s research at the Augmentation Research Center at SRI International. The purpose of the demo was to showcase the possibilities of computer-aided interactive and collaborative work for solving complex problems using a combination of cutting-edge hardware and software tools. The event introduced many key concepts and technologies that would later form the foundation of modern computing, such as the computer mouse, hypertext, video conferencing, and collaborative editing.

5. How did Douglas Engelbart’s work impact the development of the internet?

Douglas Engelbart’s work on networked computing and hypertext systems laid the groundwork for the development of the internet and the World Wide Web. Engelbart’s vision of networked computers and the intuitive, graphical interface anticipated the rapid spread and adoption of the internet. His research also influenced the work of many computer scientists and engineers, including those involved in the creation of ARPANET, which eventually evolved into the modern-day internet.

Related Technology Terms

  • Computer mouse
  • NLS (oN-Line System)
  • Augmentation of human intellect
  • Bootstrap Institute
  • Hypermedia

Sources for More Information


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