[Linux-aus] Political recognition for technology in Australia - what about recognition of technology by its advocates

Bret Busby bret at busby.net
Fri Jul 5 06:53:02 EST 2013


There was a thread on this list, that evolved into having the subject 
"Political recognition for technology in Australia".

But, something has happened, and I do not remember having seen mention 
of it on this list.

was published;

Douglas Engelbart, father of the computer mouse, dies aged 88
Updated July 04, 2013 16:51:30

Douglas Engelbart, a technologist who conceived of the computer mouse 
and laid out a vision of an internet decades before others brought those 
ideas to the mass market, has died.

Mr Engelbart had suffered from poor health and died peacefully in his 
sleep, his daughter Christina told friends in an email. He was 88.

Mr Engelbart arrived at his crowning moment relatively early in his 
career, on a winter afternoon in 1968, when he delivered an hour-long 
presentation containing so many far-reaching ideas that it would be 
referred to decades later as the "mother of all demos".

Speaking before an audience of 1,000 leading technologists in San 
Francisco, Mr Engelbart, a computer scientist at the Stanford Research 
Institute, showed off a cubic device with two rolling discs called an 
"X-Y position indicator for a display system".

It was the mouse's public debut.

Mr Engelbart then summoned, in real-time, the image and voice of a 
colleague nearly 50 kilometres away.

That was the first video conference.

He also explained a theory of how pages of information could be tied 
together using text-based links, an idea that would later form the 
bedrock of the internet's architecture.

At a time when computing was largely pursued by government researchers 
or hobbyists with a countercultural bent, Mr Engelbart never sought or 
enjoyed the explosive wealth that would later become synonymous with 
Silicon Valley success.

He never received any royalties for the mouse, for instance, which SRI 
patented and later licensed to Apple Computer.

By 2000, Mr Engelbart had won prestigious accolades including the 
National Medal of Technology and the Turing Award.

He lived in comfort in Atherton, a leafy suburb near Stanford 

At the same time, he wrestled with his fade into obscurity even as 
technology entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates built fortunes 
off of the personal computer and became celebrity billionaires by 
realizing some of his early ideas.

In 2005, he told Tom Foremski, a technology journalist, that he felt the 
last two decades of his life had been a "failure" because he could not 
receive funding for his research or "engage anybody in a dialogue".

Early years

Douglas Carl Engelbart was born on January 30, 1925 in Portland to a 
radio repairman father and a homemaker mother.

He enrolled at Oregon State University, but was drafted into the US Navy 
and shipped to the Pacific before he could graduate.

He resolved to change the world as a computer scientist after coming 
across a 1945 article by Vannevar Bush, the head of the US Office of 
Scientific Research, while scouring a Red Cross library in a native hut 
in the Philippines, he told an interviewer years later.

After returning to the US to complete his degree, Mr Engelbart took a 
teaching position at the University of California, Berkeley, after 
Stanford declined to hire him because his research seemed too removed 
from practical applications.

He took a job at SRI in 1957, and by the early-1960s Mr Engelbart led a 
team which had begun to seriously investigate tools for interactive 

After coming back from a computer graphics conference in 1961, Mr 
Engelbart sketched a design and tasked Bill English, an engineering 
colleague, to carve a prototype out of wood.

Mr Engelbart's team considered other designs, including a device that 
would be affixed to the underside of a table and controlled by the knee, 
but the desktop mouse won out.

SRI would later license the technology for $40,000 to Apple, which 
released the first commercial mouse with its Lisa computer in 1983.

By the late 1970s, Mr Engelbart's research group was acquired by a 
company called Tymshare, and he struggled to secure funding for his work 
or return to the same heights of influence.

In his later years he founded a management seminar program called the 
Bootstrap Institute with his daughter Christina.

He is survived by Karen O'Leary Engelbart, his second wife, and four 
children: Gerda, Diana, Christina and Norman. His wife Ballard died in 


First posted July 04, 2013 14:39:12

Whilst it may not be solely, directly, involving only Linux, the article 
and the man and his actions, are quite relevant to all who use Linux.

Whilst what, in the article, is described as video-conferencing, is not 
what I would regard as video-conferencing, but, rather, a video call, 
most of what we now have in Linux, would not be, without what he had 
mentioned or invented.

And, matters mentioned in that article, that he had envisioned, have 
been recently discussed on this list.

I think that this man and his passing, are worthy of recognition by the 
Linux community, apart from that he should be being recognised by the 
berks in the parliaments.

Bret Busby
West Australia

"So once you do know what the question actually is,
  you'll know what the answer means."
- Deep Thought,
   Chapter 28 of Book 1 of
   "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
   A Trilogy In Four Parts",
   written by Douglas Adams,
   published by Pan Books, 1992

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