In the year 1925 in Portland, Oregon, a great American named Douglas Engelbart was born unknown to the world, but his life was to positively impact the way society communicate especially from the business aspect.
His descent intriguingly, which was a combination of Germany, Sweden and Norway, may have been the driving force behind his success as scientist of renown. Albert Einstein, Karl fiMarx, and Max Planck were from German birth, Sixten Franzen, Johannes V. Jensen, and Carolus Linnaeus were Swedish nationals , and Marius Sophus Lie, K. Barry Sharpless, and Fridtjof Wedel- Jarlsberg Nansen desended from the land of Norway.
Dr. Douglas Engelbart was primarily focussed on getting a good education so that he could qualify and obtain a quality job. He completed high school in Oregon and enrolled at Oregon State University to read for the Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering program in 1942.
However, the Second World War was in progress and he was drafted to serve in the Philippines as a Radar Technician.
During the two years of service, he was fascinated and inspired by the Vannevar Bush article entitled "As you may think". This article was a call to arms to make knowledge as widely available as possible in national peace time as a grand challenge.
It was this challenge that helped Engelbar to formulate the course his life was to follow, although a significant amount of time were used in the fine tuning . On returning from the war he pursued and completed his Bachelor's degree at the same university.
The vision to make the world a better place, using the computer and an efficient organizing process that harnesses and utilizes human intellect (a desire that may have emanated from his war experience}, seemed to have driven Douglas Engelbart to pursue graduate studies at the University College in Berkley, California.
He learned so much about computers and their uses , that on completing his Doctorate he was told to be careful with whom he discuss his wild ideas on the subject.
After trying his hand at teaching at Berkley for a year, the brilliant engineer left that fraternity to work at Stanford Research Institute, and this was where everything began to come together for him.
He recruited a team of Research Scientists, obtained funding from ARPA for his research which was titled Augmenting Human Intellect - A Conceptual Approach, and went on to develop the Online System, Computer Interface Elements such as Bit Mapper Screens, the Mouse, Hypertext, collaborative tools, and Precursors to the graphical user interface.
Dr. Engelbart went on to acquire several patents for his work, but sadly the mouse was not a part of it. Had that been the case he would have received millions of dollars in royalties today due to the huge success of this product on the global market.
He developed ways to expertly harness the intellectual capacity of his team of workers , that normally sits at display working stations, but will travel through space , collecting and processing information that are then used collectively to solve important life problems in very powerful ways.
This impressive legacy will no doubt inspire his four children, nine grand-children, his colleagues, and future innovators to pursue their personal dreams and impact positively on their world, thereby making it better for all.
Englebart lifetime resume includes, the National Medal of Technology in 2000, the Lemelson-MIT prize of $500,000 which was the world's largest prize for innovation and invention in 1997, the British Computer Society Lovelace Medal in 2001, Fellow of the Computer History Museum , and The 2005 Norbert Weiner Award by the Computer Professionals for exhibiting excellence in Social Responsibility.
His life was not always one of constant success as his house was destroyed by fire, and members of his technical team deserted him at crucial stages to join other rival organizations. However he has continued his drive to the point that in recent years, in conjunction with one of his daughter, to educate and empower in peacetime , specificially chosen members of the information community through his own foundation.
History will, in my opinion judge this man Douglas Engelbart as one of those truly great innovators who made the world a better place before he left, and no earthly award should be too great to bestow on this erudite and accomplished scientist of the 21st Century.