PC premiered 40 years ago to awed crowd in SF





Little did the world realize 40 years ago that a San Francisco stage was featuring the first public glimpse of an invention that would revolutionize not only our daily lives but also our ability to solve the world's problems.

An audience of about 1,000 people had witnessed the premiere of the personal computer.

The Dec. 9, 1968, unveiling of the primitive device with a mouse and interactive screen -- in a now-legendary demonstration by its inventor, Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute -- drew a rousing, standing ovation from the computing cognoscenti who recognized the significance of what they had just seen.

The machine raised hopes of solving a major modern quandary -- how to navigate the world's rapidly accumulating and increasingly complex store of information...

The invention featured rudimentary windows and hyperlinks that allowed jumping from one document to another, as well as the ability to edit text and add graphics on a video monitor. The presentation also offered a peek at future computer networks that would become the Internet...

The event -- dubbed "the mother of all demos" by chroniclers of the computer industry and Silicon Valley -- is being commemorated on its 40th anniversary Tuesday at Stanford University...The event includes Engelbart and some of the other pioneers who worked with him.

The 1968 demonstration was years before anyone dreamed of Microsoft or Apple. "Bill Gates was 12 at the time; Steve Jobs was 13," writes John Naughton in his book "A Brief History of the Future."



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