1968: When the World Began – RETURN TO A SQUARE

50 years later, both creators and keepers of the flame for the ‘Mother of All Demos’ reflect on how 1968 changed the world — for all of us.

On 9 December 1968, Doug Engelbart gave the ‘Mother of All Demos’ – and the world changed.

On 9 December 2018, some of the luminaries of the Internet gathered to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the Mother of All Demos.

We had a chance to talk with some of them, weaving their stories together into one of our own…

Elizabeth ‘Jake’ Feinler ran the Network Information Center for SRI.

Marc Weber is a curator at the Computer History Museum.

Charles Irby walked into the Demo by accident – and it changed his life.

Jeff Rulifson was lead software architect for the oNLine System.

Bob Taylor was head of the IPTO at ARPA – taking over from Ivan Sutherland, who took over from JCR Licklider. The Demo was his idea.

Andy van Dam is a professor at Brown, and a luminary in the field of computer graphics.

Vint Cerf is the father of the Internet.

Howard Rheingold was so impressed by NLS that he talked his way into Doug’s Human Augmentation Research Center at SRI.

Sir Tim-Berners Lee is the father of the Web.

Tony Parisi is the Global Head of VR/AR Brand Solutions at Unity – and co-creator (with Mark Pesce) of the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML).

1968: When the World Began – SWORD OF DAMOCLES

Ivan Sutherland – the Albert Einstein of interactivity – created SKETCHPAD, the first application that let users ‘draw’ onto a computer display. Five years later he followed that up with his ‘ultimate display’ – inventing virtual and augmented reality with a device nicknamed the SWORD OF DAMOCLES.

JCR Licklider‘s 1960 paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis” touched off a new wave of thinking of the computer as aid and amplifier of human capacity.
Read the PDF:  Licklider – Man-Computer Symbiosis

A video from Lincoln Labs, demonstrating some of the features of Ivan Sutherland’s SKETCHPAD, the first program that allowed you to draw to a computer display of an interactive computer, the TX-2:

And here’s the PDF of his 1965 paper: Sutherland – The Ultimate Display

By 1968, Sutherland was ready to show his ultimate display at the Fall Joint Computing Conference in San Francisco. Here’s what his ‘Sword of Damocles’ looked like in operation:

The proceedings for the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference paint the picture of computing at its pivot from arcane to mainstream, growing into greater interactivity. Here’s the stellar list of papers – featuring two by Sutherland, both foundational to VR and 3D graphics: FJCC Proceedings