Doug Endelbart

On December 1, 2000, The White House bestowed the National Medal of Technology, the highest award in its class in the United States, on Douglas Engelbart, essentially for his technological achievements, including the invention of the computer mouse. Still to be recognized is that Engelbart's technological career is but part of a humanitarian career. His dream is to get society to buy into a means of boosting its ability to successfully cope with complex and urgent problems.

He first acted on this dream by entering a PhD program in 1951 to learn about computers. During two decades from 1957 on, he had an opportunity (mostly as Director of his Augmentation Research Center of SRI) to act on the technological and applied psychological underpinning of his dream. In 1977, commercial forces chiseled out the humanitarian part for seven years running. Then, from 1984 until 1989, while in the employ of McDonnell Douglas as senior scientist, he was able to continue from where he left off.

Seeing no commercial value in Engelbart's work, the company stopped further development work. It was his darkest hour, but bouncing back, Engelbart continued to propagate his ideas through his Bootstrap Institute.

From 1989, he has been increasingly recognized for his contributions mainly, but no longer exclusively, to technology. He has become the recipient of an extraordinarily long string of awards, including the Lemelson-MIT Prize of 0,000, and culminating in the National Medal of Technology. But the all-encompassing part of his struggle continues. And as irony has it, on yet another technological foundation: the "open hyperdocument system" which is drawing most of the interest and support for his ongoing work. [vE]. Additional background information is available at


FacebookTwitterCopy Link