Even if you’re a mega-nerd, you may not have ever heard of Doug Engelbart. He wasn’t a Silicon Valley billionaire like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, or Bill Gates. But his work is partially responsible for my ability to sit here and write this blog.
Engelbart’s most famous invention is the computer mouse, which he patented in 1979- nearly 15 years before it would become commercially available. It went on, of course, to become one of the most important input devices for computer technology for decades. He was also one of the earliest pioneers to consider the graphical user interface, and was an active researcher for the ARAPANET project that would later become the Internet as we know it.
Engelbart’s personal research philosophy was both simple and admirable. He desires to harness technology to solve complex problems and improve the lives of others. He spent most of his career working to improve the ways that people interact with machines. Because he was such a modest man, he spent much of his life in obscurity, despite his significant contributions to the world of modern computing. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that he began to receive recognition for his work, which include a Lemelson-MIT prize, the Turing Award, the National Medal of Technology, and Lovelace Medal.
Dr Engelbart was 88 when he passed. The geek world has lost one its humblest stars today.