Douglas C. Engelbart

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Douglas Engelbart (2008)

Douglas Carl Engelbart (also Doug Engelbart ; born January 30, 1925 in Portland , Oregon , † July 2, 2013 in Atherton , California ) was an American computer technician and inventor . He is considered to be the decisive pioneer and thought leader for the development of the personal computer . In 1997 he received the Turing Award for his life's work .


Engelbart was the second of three children born to his parents Carl Louis and Gladys Engelbart, née Munson. He had German ancestors through his paternal grandmother; his mother came from a family of Norwegian-Swedish immigrants. He described his mother as sensitive and artistically inclined. His father Carl Engelbart studied electrical engineering at Washington State College and initially worked as an electrical engineer in the Bremerton shipyards . After the First World War, he became a businessman and eventually opened a radio business in Portland . He died when Douglas Engelbart was nine years old. He also studied electrical engineering at Oregon State University ( BS ) from 1942 to 1948 , interrupted in 1944 when he was drafted into World War II. For two years he was trained as a radar technician in his dream job and was only stationed in the Philippines at the end of the war. At UC Berkeley , he completed a second degree in engineering in 1952. 1955 he became a computer technical work to gas-plasma screens doctorate .

Contributions to the development of computers and inventions

By chance he was still reading as GI in the Atlantic Monthly in the article As We May Think (July 1945) of Vannevar Bush's vision of an information processing machine. The so-called Memex (MemoryExtenders) is a fictitious compact analog computer that could be used as a personal tool. This idea left such a lasting impression on him that from then on he devoted his entire life to realizing this concept. In 1962, he further developed this human-centered concept in technical terms in Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework .

The very first prototype of a computer mouse was built in 1963 by Bill English based on drawings by Douglas Engelbart.

Engelbart's invention, the computer mouse , which he developed in 1963 as an XY position indicator for a screen system at the Stanford Research Institute , is currently still best known to the public . He and Bill English presented this display with a rotary knob and a button to a specialist audience for the first time on December 9, 1968; So far-reaching were the impression and consequences of the presentation that Steven Levy referred to his 1994 talk as The Mother of All Demos . In addition, he provided essential ideas on all aspects of human-machine interaction , including a. Graphical user interfaces , hypertext and computer networks . His research was partly funded by ARPA , for which he not only developed tools for online collaboration, but also set up and managed one of the first four nodes of the Arpanet at his institute.

In the early 1970s, a number of his best employees left his institute. They mostly went to Xerox PARC , where in 1973 the Xerox Alto was to be the first PC with a graphical user interface. In 1976 Engelbart's laboratory was sold to Tymshare. At the age of 63, he and his daughter Christina founded the Bootstrap Project at Stanford University in 1988 , which was initially limited to 18 months. Engelbart still headed the Bootstrap Institute in 2008, supported by Logitech , which is dedicated to improving human-machine interaction. In 2009 he renamed the institute the Doug Engelbart Institute .

Private life

Douglas Engelbart and his wife Ballard, who died in 1997, had children Gerda, Diana, Christina and Norman. In 2008 he married the journalist and publicist Karen O'Leary . He died of kidney failure on July 2, 2013 at the age of 88 in Atherton, California .

"I don't know what Silicon Valley will do when it runs out of Doug's ideas."

Awards (excerpt)

  All awards:


  • DC Engelbart: A Conceptual Framework for the Augmentation of Man's Intellect . In: PW Howerton, DC Weeks (Ed.): The Augmentation of Man's Intellect by Machine . Spartan Books (Vistas in Information Handling, I), Washington DC 1963, pp. 1-29.
  • WK English, DC Engelbart, ML Berman: Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation . In: IEEE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics HFE-8 , No. 1, 1967, pp. 5-15.
  • DC Engelbart, WK English: A research center for augmenting human intellect . In: Proceedings of the AFIPS 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference . Thompson Book, San Francisco CA 1968, pp. 395-410.
  • DC Engelbart, RW Watson, JC Norton: The augmented knowledge workshop . In: Proceedings of the AFIPS National Computer Conference, June 4-8, 1973 , pp. 9-21.
  • DC Engelbart: NLS Teleconferencing Features: The Journal, and Shared-Screen Telephoning . In: I EEE CompCon Digest , September 9-11, 1975, pp. 173-176.
  • Douglas C. Engelbart: The augmented knowledge workshop. In: Adele Goldberg (Ed.): A History of Personal Workstations . Addison-Wesley, Reading MA 1988, ISBN 0-201-11259-0 , pp. 187-236,
  • Boosting our collective IQ: selected readings. BLT Press, Fremont CA 1995, ISBN 1-895936-01-2 ,


  • John Markoff : What the dormouse said. How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry . Viking, New York 2005, ISBN 0-670-03382-0
  • Thierry Bardini: Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing. Stanford University Press, Stanford CA 2000, ISBN 978-0-8047-3871-2
  • Thierry Bardini and Michael Friedewald: Chronicle of the Death of a Laboratory: Douglas Engelbart and the Failure of the Knowledge Workshop. In: Ian Inkster (Ed.): History of Technology . Vol. 23, Continuum London, New York 2003, ISBN 0-8264-5616-2 , pp. 191-212.
  • Michael Friedewald: The computer as a tool and medium: the intellectual and technical roots of the personal computer (= Aachen contributions to the history of science and technology in the 20th century, volume 3). GNT Verlag for the History of Natural Science and Technology, Berlin / Diepholz 1999, ISBN 3-928186-47-7 (dissertation Technical University Aachen 1999, 497 pages with illustrations).
  • Michael Friedewald: Concepts of human-computer communication in the 1960s: JCR Licklider , Douglas Engelbart and the computer as an intelligence amplifier. In: Technikgeschichte , 67, No. 1, 2000, pp. 1-24, abstract .
  • Susan B. Barnes: Douglas Carl Engelbart: Developing the Underlying Concepts for Contemporary Computing. In: IEEE Annals of the History of Computing , 19, No. 3, 1996, pp. 16-26.
  • Liam J. Bannon: The Pioneering Work of Douglas C. Engelbart. In: ZW Pylyshyn, LJ Bannon (Eds.): Perspectives on the Computer Revolution . 2nd Edition. Ablex Publishing Corporation, Norwood NJ 1989, ISBN 0-89391-591-2 , pp. 301-306.
  • Henning Lobin : Engelbart's dream - How the computer does reading and writing for us . Campus, Frankfurt / New York NY 2014, ISBN 978-3-593-50183-3 .
  • The inventor of the mouse . In: Die Zeit , No. 35/1998; interview

Web links

Commons : Douglas C. Engelbart  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Contributions by Engelbart

Individual evidence

  1. ^ John Markoff: What the dormouse said. How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry . 2005, p. 43.
  2. All I know is that his mother was born in Seattle, last name Ernst (...) Interview from 1986 on
  3. ^ Henry Lowood: Interview with Douglas Engelbart 1 , Stanford University, December 19, 1986, Stanford and the Silicon Valley. Oral History Interviews
  4. "Internet Pioneers. Doug Engelbart " ,, the public's library and digital archive, 2000
  5. Douglas Engelbart: "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework" ( Memento of the original from May 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , 1962 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Abdul Montaqim: Pioneers of the Computer Age: from Charles Babbage to Steve Jobs . Monsoon Media, p. 13.
  7. ^ Alan Dix: Human-computer Interaction . Pearson / Prentice-Hall, 2004, ISBN 978-0-13-046109-4 , p. 72.
  8. a b Martin Burckhardt: Other mice made with his mouse . DC Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 16, 2016, p. 15.
  9. "Engeleary Ventures" ( Memento of the original from July 9, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Karen O'Leary, 2009 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Douglas C. Engelbart, Inventor of the Computer Mouse, Dies at 88. In: The New York Times , July 3, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  11. ^ "Honors Awarded to Doug Engelbart," Doug Engelbart Institute, 2009
  12. ^ Rudolf Kellermann Prize for the History of Technology 1999