The Future is Really the Past

The YouTube video, “The Mother of All Demos,” by Engelbart truly opened my eyes. What a wonderful lesson for us that we have not come as far as we like to think and that these technology ideas were in the air long before anyone starting charging for licenses and taking credit for features. Email, telepresence, collaborative editing, hyperlinks, guided search, keyword search, mouse driven cursors are all shown in a user context clear as day. The video makes me think that technology is being stalled. By now we should have superior software development technology, more advanced hardware, cure for many diseases, better energy sources, etc.

It’s pretty amazing that this “mother of invention” idea is so similar to the internet and what we use everyday in 2014. Little did people who were watching this at the time know that it really was the future. The mouse, graphic user interfaces, the web, wikipedia, instant messaging, screen sharing, Skype, Facetime, and keynote addresses were all invented in 1968, we’re only just now getting around to using it. The 21st century is nearly half a century late; it already came and went, a year before the first moon landing. It astonishes me how that this is from 1968. Some of Doug Engelbart’s opening lines could have been about Google Now. The real-time, collaborative document editing could have been about Google Docs or Microsoft’s Office 365.

We never sit back and wonder how these things came to be until we sit back and use them multiple times a day. It is only then we realize how difficult it really was back then to make these kind of ideas happen. Truly amazing!

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