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If you were asked to name the top inventors who had changed the world would Doug Engelbart spring to your lips? If it did then you are in the minority and yet Doug Engelbart who sadly passed away a couple of days ago was one of the true pioneers of computer science.
Way back in the 1960s when computers filled rooms and yet only managed simple calculations, Doug filed a patent for the computer mouse; an invention which did not find its way into commercial reality until 1984. Considering his work as being concerned with “augmenting human intellect,” Doug also went on to pioneer ideas such as multiple windows, bit mapped technology and video teleconferencing as well as helping to develop ARPANet, the precursor of the internet.
Widely considered to have been some 50 years ahead of his time, in 2000 Doug Engelbart’s contribution to computing was awarded the US National Medal of Technology for “creating the foundations of personal computing.” Ironically in his earlier university years he was warned that his “wild ideas” could see him reaching no higher than acting assistant professor. Luckily he had the courage to move on and develop his “wild” ideas or the world of computing as we know it now could have been very different.
We have recently written about innovation and the way in which a true innovation culture gives employees the freedom to experiment, to challenge and to be outstanding. Doug Engelbart was a true innovation pioneer, looking far beyond the now and opening up a world of possibilities and his legacy lives on in every PC, app and smartphone which we use today.