The Dream of a Lifetime

Engelbart encountered the idea of the Memex while serving as a radar technician in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It took root in his imagination and, in 1950, he had an epiphany, one that guided him and his work for the next two decades. Markoff writes that Engelbart “saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols….He would create a workstation for organizing all of the information and communications needed for any given project….he saw streams of characters moving on the display. Although nothing of the sort existed, it seemed the engineering should be easy to do and that the machine could be harnessed with levers, knobs or switches. It was nothing less than Vannevar Bush’s Memex, translated into the world of electronic computing.” —Bill JoyThe Dream of a Lifetime (