Douglas Engelbart DL Author Profile link

United States – 1997
Short Annotated Bibliography

Publications by Engelbart:

  1. Engelbart, Douglas C., “Special Considerations of the Individual as a User, Generator, and Retriever of Information”, American Documentation, 1961, Vol. 12, Num. 2 pp. 121-125.  One of the earliest papers about the Augmentation notion, this article exposes Engelbart’s “Computer as medium” intuition. In this paper, he wrote: “No human being can hold very many concepts in his head at one time. If he is dealing with more than a few, he must have some way to store and order these in some external medium, preferably a medium that can provide him with spatial patterns to associate with the ordering, e.g., an ordered list of possible courses of action. Beyond a certain number and complexity of interrelationships, he cannot depend upon spatial-pattern help alone and seeks other more abstract associations and linkages.”
  2. Engelbart, Douglas C., Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, Report to the Director of Information Sciences, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California, October, 1962.  This 134 pages long seminal report documents the strategic vision that drove Engelbart’s work: it is thus the definitive description of his framework and the founding report for the creation of the SRI Augmentation Research Center. This reports details both the philosophy of Engelbart’s “crusade” and the pragmatics of the bootstrapping approach.
  3. Engelbart, Douglas C. and William English, “A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect”, AFIPS Conference Proceedings of the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference, San Francisco, CA, December 9, 1968, Vol. 33, pp. 395-410.  A historically very significant paper, this article is in fact the paper accompanying the December 1968 “mother of all demoes” at the San Francisco AFIPS conference. It describes the NLS working prototype and the Augmentation Research Center.
  4. Engelbart, Douglas C.,. “The Augmented Knowledge Workshop," In A History of Personal Workstations, edited by A. Goldberg, pp. 187-232. New York: ACM Press, 1988.  This paper republishes and extends a 1986 paper published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on the History of Personal Workstations (Palo Alto, CA, January 9-10, 1986, pp. 73-83). This richly illustrated paper details the philosophy and the history of the Augmentation Research Center until 1975. The paper is also completed by a three pages discussion between some of the participants of the conference, including some former members of ARC (e.g. Charles Irby).

Publications by others:

  1. Bardini, Thierry, Bootstrapping: Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing, Stanford University Press, 2000.  The definitive account of the history of the Augmentation Research Center, based on an extensive analysis of the literature and some 25 personal interviews with key actors of this history. Bardini insists on the historical transformation of the computer realized at ARC and show the importance of Engelbart’s understanding of computing in an extension of Benjamin Lee Whorf’s hypothesis of linguistic relativity.
  2. Markoff, John, What the Dormouse Said. How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer, New York: Viking, 2005.  This book is an in depth coverage of the strong and complex relationship between computing and the 1960s counter-culture. It extensively covers Douglas Engelbart and his staff at the Augmentation Research Center, and especially the 1968 “mother of all demos” which was recorded on film (and mixed in real time) by Stewart Brand (of the Whole Earth Catalog).
  3. Rheingold, Howard, Tools for Thought, Simon & Schuster, 1985.  This book provides one of the earliest coverage of Douglas Engelbart’s story in its chapter 9, entitled “The Loneliness of a Long-Distance Thinker” (pp. 174-204 of the 2000 MIT Press edition).