Angelo, who died in 2013, worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park when presenting the demo at a San Francisco computer meeting via video conference. That alone was an impressive technical feat (showing what was essentially the first version of Skype), but what would happen in the next 90 minutes changed things forever.
"If you, as an intellectual employee at your office, were provided with a computer monitor that was backed up by a computer that lived for you all day and was immediately responsive to any action you have, how much value can you get from it?" Excitedly asked. "Well, it basically characterizes what we have been pursuing for many years in what we call the enhanced human intellectual research center at Stanford Research Institute."
The whole demonstration was performed live to show rather than just talk about technology and prove that computers could actually be "responsive". It was a brave step in terms of technology – the team had to build their own screen for around $ 90,000 in the 1960's money. "The screen driver was an electronics faucet 3 feet with 4 feet," added Engelbart according to a new book called "Genius Valley." He emphasized, however, that the Stanford team not only developed systems but used them for their own projects.
He first used a simple grocery list to show how databases could simplify everyday life by formatting and displaying information by category. Then he created new forms of input control (the bitmap screen, mouse and keyboard), showed a way to jump from topic to topic by clicking the link text (hyperlinks), showing Google Docs-like collaboration and showing keyword searching.
In addition, he simply suggested graphics, meta tags, open source software and ARPA, the Internet's predecessor. In fact, ARPA actually paid for the demo of $ 175,000 at the time, about $ 1.2 million in 2018 money.
The Stanford team had more ambitions than just developing technology. Their stated goal was to "increase the intellect of the human being", improve cooperation and make it easier for individuals and keep reaching their full potential. Sincerely believed that as society became more and more complex, people needed to improve their learning and knowledge as quickly as possible.
At that point, the SRI team was not considered highly regarded by other computer scientists, and the coordinators of the conference, where it was shown, were "hesitant" about the demo. None of it resisted, however,. "In 1968, I began to feel we could show many dramatic things," he said. "I had this adventurous sense of," Well, let's try it then, "which quite often ended in disaster."
Of course, that did not and the rest is history. "It eventually gave Xerox PARC and then Apple to take over the world," Engelbart's partner Bill Paxton said. "But at that time Doug was a voice crying into the desert."