Talk:The Mother of All Demos

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I'm sorry, but what "references" should an article like this cite?

Is the question about whether it is really referred to as "the mother of all demos"? You should probably just do a google search if you're in doubt. Or, better yet, look at the ACM History web site -- I believe they explicitly refer to this as "the mother of all demos."

Original name?[edit]

Since the "Mother of All Demos" term wasn't used until the 1990s, what was the demo previously referred to? What was it titled or listed as when originally given? Pimlottc (talk) 19:21, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

The formal name of the session / paper is: Engelbart, D. & English, W. (1968). A research center for augmenting human intellect. AFIPS Fall Joint Computer Conference. p. 295-410 (I'll add this to the main article - good catch). Informal references to the demo that I recall (or used) include: "Engelbart's demo", "Engelbart's 1968 demo", "Engelbart's FJCC demo". At the time, the Spring and Fall Joint Computer Conferences (SJCC, FJCC) were biggest computing research events with widely published proceedings, so "Engelbart's 1968 FJCC demo" might be the most common informal citation used in research papers or news articles ... --Grlloyd (talk) 10:16, 7 March 2008 (UTC)
The 'Mother of all....' terminology was first used in a defiant statement by Saddam Hussein with reference to the 'mother of all battles' that would ensue if Iraq were invaded, 1991 - is that not the case? Perhaps this fact should be noted and referenced? --Ndaisley (talk) 09:16, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
IF this phrase originated with Saddam Hussein, something already proven false here, that “fact” should be in its own article (which it already is), and not here. No history of “mother of all” should be described here. The only significant thing that should be said about it here is that it is a widely used snowclone, and reference an article about this particular snowclone, if that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
It was here before, but then removed - see here. If you could find a reference for it, it would probably be easier to restore. Korny O'Near (talk) 17:12, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
If "Engelbart's 1968 FJCC demo" is the most commonly used name for the talk, should we retitle the article, per WP:COMMONNAME? It seems a little disrespectful to be titling it after Levy's nickname for the session, and it's not clear from the presented sources that it's uniformly known by this name today. --McGeddon (talk) 12:26, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
IMHO, the current title is appropriate. The most common way to refer to this event is probably to say "THE Demo, but that's not very useful for an article title. MarkBernstein (talk) 18:56, 26 July 2012 (UTC)
That's fine, WP:COMMONNAME doesn't require us to use the most common name if that name would be ambiguous. But what's the second or third most common way to refer to it? Does "Engelbart's 1968 FJCC demo" come above "The Mother of All Demos"? --McGeddon (talk) 14:01, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
Re: the original name: as per Grlloyd comment above, technically speaking this was indeed a talk at a professional conference, which was listed on the marquis at the conference as: 'A research center for augmenting human intellect', similarly in the 1968 AFIPS FJCC conference proceedings and the companion paper by Engelbart and English published in the proceedings. I believe it was most often referred to in-house as the 1968 FJCC Demo, to differentiate from other demos, for example the 1969 ASIS Demo. It was also variously called Doug's Demo, Engelbart's 1968 Demo, etc. Even for years after the nickname "Mother of All Demos" was publicized, the demo was still referred to by many names and it would have been hard to pick one most commonly used name. As of the last few years however, I would say that it is now referred to overwhelmingly as the Mother of All Demos. -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 22:09, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Re: should the name of the article be changed? I vote to keep it as is (The Mother of All Demos) since I believe it is now most commonly known as and recognized as such. --Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 22:45, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Who Coined the Name?[edit]

It was my understanding that Andy van Dam coined the name "The Mother of All Demos". However, the Article currently credits Steven Levy per his 1994 book, and states that Andy later used the term in his 1998 talk at this 30th Anniversary Event. I had been working from these and similar publications which credit Andy as the first, for example Computer Science Illuminated, plus these vintage webpages at Brown Douglas Engelbart and 'The Mother of All Demos' and Telecollaboration: Beyond Memex and NLS, which seem to predate the 1998 event by one or two years, credit Andy. What's the best way to verify one way or another? -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 23:13, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Overview of the Demo?[edit]

Should we begin work on a chronological overview of the demo? -ankØku- (talk) 23:07, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes! We should start off with a description of the set-up, with video projector, CCTV camera, telephone lines and remote mainframe computers. Then describe what happens as each new element (mouse, hypertext, etc.) is introduced. --Wtshymanski (talk) 20:23, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

An excellent resource is this annotated overview of the demo at the Stanford MouseSite, created by the team at Stanford Libraries Special Collections where the original 3 reels of film of the demo, plus other related archives, are curated. They basically split the video into 35 topical segments or "clips", and summarized each one. -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 19:50, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Who were there?[edit]

Alan Kay says Stewart Brand was the cameraman[1]. Who else? (talk) 08:54, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Other names that have been mentioned: Tom Hagan, Ivan Sutherland, Alan Kay. Bill Paxton was presenting with Engelbart. Bob English was part of Engelbart's team.[1] Bob English? This must mean Bill English [2][3]. Also, Jeff Rulifson and Andy Van Dam - and Arthur C. Clarke saw some of it before the demo.[4]. – Tatu Siltanen (talkcontribs) 19:40, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

The presenters were Doug Engelbart on stage, with team members Bill Paxton, Jeff Rulifson ( NLS software architect), and Don Andrews teleconferenced in from the lab at SRI. Bill English, the lead engineer on the team and essentially producer of the show who made it all work, was there at the Civic Center working behind the scenes (ref 1998). Other staff listed in the credits: Dave Evans, Ed van de Riet, Martin Hardy, Roger Bates, John Yarborough/Farbodough(sp?), Steve Paavola(sp?). Stewart Brand, a friend of the lab who had volunteered his services for the event, manned a camera back at the lab SRI (ref 1998). Andy van Dam and Alan Kay were in the audience. Also Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull, who were at the conference to present their work (ref 2008 15:23). Charles Irby happened to attend, and subsequently applied and was hired onto the team (ref1986). An excellent resource in Reflecting on the 1968 Demo are video sessions from retrospective events (30th and 40th Anniversaries) where a number of speakers who had attended or participated relate their experience of the 1968 demo. Doug's wife and daughters were also there :). -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 21:03, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Today I added some attendee names citing source references. It would ultimately be nice to create a separate section for Attendees to list known names, something about them, plus their eye-witness accounts if any, and encourage the list to grow. See for example this eye-witness account which would be nice to make available somehow. -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 23:55, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

How did they do it?[edit]

This claims they used something called the Tree Meta Language, among others. (talk) 08:54, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Some excellent resources to pursue this topic include (1) the companion paper delivered at the 1968 conference A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect, by Doug Engelbart and Bill English, (2) this list of three retrospective events Reflecting on the 1968 Demo where this topic was covered in detail by key demo participants, for example this 1998 footage of Bill English summarizing what was involved and (3) the wiki articles on NLS, the software being demonstrated at the demo, and the Augmentation Research Center, Doug Engelbart's research lab at SRI where all the cool stuff was developed. -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 21:12, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Invention of Hypertext[edit]

Hypertext was invented in 87. At the time the top technology was a dos list of things in a library. Hyper "card" (database of cards) came out that year and did not include hypertext.

Documents were stand alone things. They might have lists of other documents but you did not get there with a click. Hyper text is "puncntuation".

Having a set of icons to click on was acheived in the first desktop interfaces. But an icon is not hyper "TEXT" link. There is a very large difference. Becayuse after the link was invented the web exploded into existance within a few years.

Many erronious things have gone on the hypertext page because people do not know what they are talking about. Things like microfilm machines that stop at a page you type in. Or the Aspen map program (a video with different paths).

Hyper text is a specific thing. It is NOT "Fast word processing". Or a driving simulation.

There was one inventor. While there may have been numerous hopefull ideas of an Asamovian encycolpedia of the galaxy. (Yes Asamove preceeded Adams) And both preceeded hyoer text. They were "database books" and it was SCI-FI.

The card catalogue reigned supreme untill the whole web model was formulated by me in 87. That was: Clickable phrases (hyper text) and Search engines (clickable lists of the documents - same format) This was the discovery. That the world of information needed to be a collective effort (crowd courced as we say now). My corrilary invention of hyper-email and multi author pages were uses for an idea that the others simply did not invent.

Multi Author pages remains a terrible destructive technology. Along with faked search engines. Because people do not know how to do it. They do not know how to share editing. The simply exterminate the other person from the page.

I also solved multi authoring. But it is complex and needs to be secure.

These technologies are not to be argued over. The web worked fine untill people started cheating it, deleating it and scamming me. There is only one way to set it right.

If you delete this then you are a lier. You have no way of knowing what I invented. Yes I could have demoed a single user version of the hypertext and made a search engine program. I asked for government help because it needed sturdy applications and support to scale it. I had already invented it. I did not need to do more. Everyone else did.

You simply do not know. If there was a punctuation format for hyper text it escaped all detection untill I announced my invention of the web. They are scammers. I waited 23 years for them to come forward. They never did. Then they started sying microfilm machines were early hypertext.

Icons you can click on are not hypertext. We had that stuff.. We did not have a document standard.

Even if I was only a few years early it's a trillion dollars of value. If I had invented it int he sixties and let it languish it would be worth zero. I used to joke that they would start saying the web was invented in the 60s. That's not how it happened. I was there.

Still, the invention of the mouse was cool. Now that we know who it was.

Do not delete anything without contacting me. By email. Try to get it right. You can't. I did. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:30, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Hello, Mr. Sheridan! Welcome to Wikipedia. I moved your note to a section at the bottom of the talk page, which is the convention here.
Your claim that "Hypertext was invented in 1987" might need to be modified a bit. The first hypertext conference was in 1987 -- I was there -- and quite a few hypertext systems were demonstrated there. The term was coined by Ted Nelson in the 1960s, of course. Other pre-1987 hypertext systems include GUIDE, Hypergate, Black Magic, Superbook, Symbolics Document Examiner, Storyspace, Gateway, Xanadu, Intermedia, Notecards, FRESS, and HES.

But the point made here is that NLS/Augment did present an extraordinary array of innovation in a single implemented bundle. I think you'll agree it was a spectacular demo.MarkBernstein (talk) 19:05, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Englebart references hussein? Shouldn't it be the other way aroud?[edit]

"The term "Mother of All Demos" references "The Mother of All Battles"" - if the former happened in 1968 and the latter in 1991, how did the former reference the latter? Time machine? (talk) 04:21, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Of course, no one referred to it as such at the time is was delivered. To contemporaries, it was a very good talk. By 1987, when the video recording was played at the first ACM Hypertext Conference, the event had become proverbial. My recollection was that we referred to the event at that time as "The Demo", and that -- or "Doug’s Demo," -- is the usage I've most often adopted myself. But "The Mother of All Demos" has appeared frequently in the press in the past decade, and fits more gracefully in common Wikipedia usage. MarkBernstein (talk) 13:41, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Where did this happen?[edit]

Today, if you say "convention center in San Francisco" (try entering that phrase into Google, or even saying it out loud in the Bay Area), most people think you mean Moscone Center. This did not exist before the 80s. Where did the actual conference take place? I was Googling around and found a vague reference to it happening at Fort Mason, but that does not look like an adequate citation. - (talk) 13:55, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

The session was held in Brooks Hall at the San Francisco Civic Auditorium <>, which was built in 1958 and closed for several years beginning in 1993 <>, later repurposed as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. See photo of the hall interior taken just before Engelbart's presentation there -- Christina Engelbart Cengelbart (talk) 00:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)


I have traced this article's references to the article published on the Ars Technica website and there was indeed information about a simple form of windows used in NLS. However, watching the original 1968 demo recording, all I could see was some kind of screen splitting; there was no windows metaphor. Another article that I found here refers to this feature as "windows-like subsections". Speaking of windows in NLS seems an overinterpretation to me, although it depends on the definition of a window. Krzyszcz (talk) 13:38, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Timeline Mural of the event[edit]

Several years ago I saw a mural of this event on the web. It was a wonderful and creative diagram in the form of a graphic time line that highlights many events that enabled and preceded the demo. I can't seem to find this now, but it would make a important and very visual addition to this article. Thanks! --Lbeaumont (talk) 21:29, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

I have found it at: Totally cool! --Lbeaumont (talk) 22:14, 17 October 2016 (UTC)