Douglas Engelbart is one of the most influential
thinkers in the history of personal computing. He is best known
as the groundbreaking engineer who invented such mainstays of
the personal computer as the mouse, windows, e-mail, and the
word processor. Engelbart led one of the most important projects
funded by ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the 1960s:
a networked environment designed to support collaborative interaction
between people using computers. It was dubbed the NLS (oNLine
System). This historic prototype, developed at the Stanford
Research Institute, and unveiled in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer
Conference in San Francisco, influenced the development of the
first personal computer and the graphical user interface at
Xerox PARC in the early 1970s.
Engelbart reasoned that networked computing
would not only make individuals more intellectually effective;
it would enable a collaborative method of sharing knowledge.
The linking of people and computers using this approach to interactivity
would result in the use of computers to "solve the world's problems"
by augmenting the capacities of the mind's intellectual faculties.