On December 9, 1968 Douglas Engelbart took the stage at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco to demo the o N-Line System (NLS), a project he had been working on at the Stanford Research Institute.
In the days and years to come, his presentation would (quite aptly) be referred to as “The Mother of All Demoes.”In the course of just 90 minutes, Engelbart exhibited technology that would define the computer programming world for years to come.
But Bush’s key insight was the Memex’s ability to link together these archives associatively.
He wrote: It affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.
If that sounds a lot like a hyperlink on the web, then you can probably see where I’m going with this.
Stretch back a bit further, and you can draw a line from Bush to H. Wells, who took some time after writing novels like , a collection of essays, in 1938.For the first time ever, the world was introduced to the computer mouse, word processing, advanced graphic displays, collaborative editing, and video conferencing. Buried throughout his presentation, Engelbart would often jump from one screen to the next using dynamic links.He could type the name of a file, or click on one of these links and jump to a brand new document.Vannevar Bush (11 March 1890 – 30 June 1974) was an American engineer and science administrator known for his work on analog computing, his political role in the development of the atomic bomb as a primary organizer of the Manhattan Project, the founding of Raytheon, and the idea of the memex which later inspired the creation of hypertext and the World Wide Web.This has not been a scientist's war; it has been a war in which all have had a part.The scientists, burying their old professional competition in the demand of a common cause, have shared greatly and learned much.Mendel's concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.Hypercard’s breakthrough, however, was that these cards could be easily .Navigating through information was as easy as clicking through links.Wells imagined a world in the not too distant future were all of human knowledge would be easily accessible.By networking that information together, it would be possible to create a collective intelligence far greater than any individual one.