[clug] Could this be done today? 1968: Doug Englebart's NLS (oNLine System)

Alex Osborne ato at meshy.org
Wed Sep 17 00:19:02 GMT 2008

On 16/09/2008, at 11:18 AM, steve jenkin wrote:

> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos>
> Doug Englebart gave a real-time demo in Dec 1968 of an on-line system.
> Google Video:
> <http://video.google.com/videoplay? 
> docid=-8734787622017763097&q=engelbart>
> I was wondering how easily something like this could be done today...
> Some bits are trivial (monitors & networking),
> but others are harder (his drill-down files)

I love the way they do their remote monitors--video cameras pointed  
at CRTs. :-D

I think all the various bits exist in some form, but they're not so  
easy to tie together nicely.  How would I do the scene with the one  
application being controlled by two pointers (or "bugs" as he calls  
them) whilst doing a video conference today?  Fire up Ekiga, start  
the video conference.  Then... some hack involving VNC?  That still  
wouldn't get me two pointers.  About the most functional thing would  
probably be to use screen's terminal sharing ability.  In either case  
we have issues with security, how can I let my conversation partner  
interact with just one particular document in one particular  

His editor reminds me a lot of Org-mode for Emacs, which is an  
outliner with tagging, tasks, hyperlinks and spreadsheets.  There's a  
Google tech talk about it here, if you haven't heard of it before:


It's also a real pity that chording keyboards haven't taken off.  I'd  
love to have one of these to use with my phone:


Perhaps in combination with Emacspeak, or LCD sunglasses or  
something.  I might have a go at making one at some point, but it'd  
be much nicer to have something that's properly constructed, with  
molded plastic and is less likely to be mistaken by a fool as a bomb  
trigger. ;-)

About the closest commercial thing I can find is this:


Which gets pretty terrible reviews, is not reprogrammable and doesn't  
look like it'd be very usable walking around strapped to the other  
wrist as they suggest to make it "wearable".



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