Posts Tagged ‘mobile computer’

Creator of Mouse and most of Modern Computer Interface legendary hacker Douglas Engelbart passed away at 88

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Douglas Engelbard holding early prototype of computer mouse

One of most influential persons on Computing Douglas Engelbart passed away silently at age of 88 on 03 of July 2013. He worked at times where computing was in its dawn in late '60s . He become the Inventor of Computer Mouse Interface and played key role in developing much of the modern PC interface and his work on human – computer interaction.

First Prototype of Computer Mouse-SRI - Duuglas Engelbart creator of first computer mouse

Many of his research led indirectly to developing later a number of nowadays standard technologies such as Networking as we know it, The Hypertext Transmission (HTTP) and many of Modern graphical computer interface

I believe every IT should understand the significance of his works and should keep his name in short names along with Denis Ritchie who passed away last year, Ken Thompson and Johh McCarthy – also died last year . All of this people, indirectly changed our modern world by their genius inventions. Of course it is doubtful whether their scientific contribution doesn't make our life more miserable as half of people on earth today spend about 5 to 8 hours in front of some kind of computer or mobile computer screen (be it notebook, pad or smartphone mobile) …

One of first Douglas Engelbart famous works is "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Concept Framework" (1962). His had so much interesting idea and new information that it led to development of Augmentation Research Center (ARC).
Engelbart worked on things like bitmapped screens, collaborative tools and precursor of graphical user interface.
In 1967 he filed a patent for a primitive version of the Computer Mouse, the mouse was patented and later licensed to Apple for only 40000$ !

Douglas Engelbart with his archaic computer mouse at hand

Augmentation Research Center later become involved working closely with ARPANET (Internet's predecessor). In ARC Engelbart along with other researchers invented things like hypertext, object addressing, dynamic file linking, shared screen collaboration.

After WWII Douglas studied electrical enginering at University of Califormania (Berkley) gruduated with Master in 1953 and later in 1955 earned a PhD. During studying in Berkley he get involved in construction of California Digital Computer Project. After his graduation he served as a professor in Berkley

He enrolled in graduate school in electrical engineering at University of California, Berkeley, graduating with an Master of Science degree in 1953, and a Ph.D. in 1955.[9] As a graduate student at Berkeley he assisted in the construction of the California Digital Computer project

  1. he would focus his career on making the world a better place;
  2. any serious effort to make the world better requires some kind of organized effort;
  3. harnessing the collective human intellect of all the people contributing to effective solutions was the key;
  4. if you could dramatically improve how we do that, you'd be boosting every effort on the planet to solve important problems — the sooner the better; and
  5. computers could be the vehicle for dramatically improving this capability

An important paper that severely influenced Engelbart's ideas is As We May Think – by VANNEVAR BUSH In 2005 Engelbart received a National Science Foundation grant to fund the open source HyperScope project.
Douglas Engelbart has been honored with multiple awards including National Medal of Technology by Bill Clinton in y. 2000. He is fellow of Computer History Museum, he has been active as IT innovator until the very late time in his life, one of his last written works is Boosting our Collective IQs from 1995. In personal plan he was married for Ballard (who died in 1997), from her he had 4 kids – Gerda, Diana, Christina and Norman. One of most unusual things for him is his second marriage in 2008 in age of 83! He left behind himself 9 grandchildren 🙂

Douglas Engelbart the mother of all demos year 1968

Douglas is mostly famous in hacker culture for his demonstration of experimental computer technologies that are now commonplace in December 9, 1968 widely known as "The Mother of All Demos". Below is a Video capture of whole presentation, I believe every IT geek, hacker or just a computer involved person should watch it. One can see that this presentation later led to development of many of modern concepts in Computer Science used this very day including so popular nowadays FrameWork Programming


The Mother of All Demos, visual presentation of Experimental Computer Technology presented by Douglas Engelbart (1968)

30 years anniversary of the first mass produced portable computer COMPAQ Grid Compass 1011

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Grid Notebook Big screen logo

Today it is considered the modern laptop (portable computers) are turning 30 years old. The notebook grandparent is a COMPAQGRiD Compass 1011 – a “mobile computer” with a electroluminescent display (ELD) screen supporting resolution of 320×240 pixels. The screen allowed the user to use the computer console in a text resolution of 80×24 chars. This portable high-tech gadget was equipped with magnesium alloy case, an Inten 8086 CPU (XT processor) at 8Mhz (like my old desktop pravetz pc 😉 ), 340 kilobyte (internal non-removable magnetic bubble memory and even a 1,200 bit/s modem!

COMPAQ Grid Compass considered first laptop / notebook on earthy 30 anniversary of the portable computer

The machine was uniquely compatible for its time as one could easily attach devices such as floppy 5.25 inch drives and external (10 Meg) hard disk via IEEE-488 I/O compatible protocol called GPiB (General Purpose instrumental Bus).

First mass prdocued portable computer laptop grid COMPAQ 11011 back side input peripherals

The laptop had also unique small weight of only 5 kg and a rechargable batteries with a power unit (like modern laptops) connectable to a normal (110/220 V) room plug.

First notebook in World ever the COMPAQ grid Compass 1101,br />
The machine was bundled with an own specificly written OS GRiD-OS. GRID-OS could only run a specialized software so this made the application available a bit limited.
Shortly after market introduction because of the incompitablity of GRID-OS, grid was shipped with MS-DOS v. 2.0.
This primitive laptop computer was developed for serve mainly the needs of business users and military purposes (NASA, U.S. military) etc.

GRID was even used on Space Shuttles during 1980 – 1990s.
The price of the machine in April 1982 when GriD Compass was introduced was the shockingly high – $8150 dollars.

The machine hardware design is quite elegant as you can see on below pic:

 COMPAQ grid laptop 1101 bubbles internal memory

As a computer history geek, I’ve researched further on GRID Compass and found a nice 1:30 hour video telling in detailed presentation retelling the history.

Shortly after COMPAQ’s Grid Compass 1011’s introduction, many other companies started producing similar sized computers; one example for this was the Epson HX-20 notebook. 30 years later, probably around 70% of citizens on the globe owns a laptop or some kind of portable computer device (smartphone, tablet, ultra-book etc.).

Most of computer users owning a desktop nowdays, owns a laptop too for mobility reasons. Interestengly even 30 years later the laptop as we know it is still in a shape (form) very similar to its original predecessor. Today the notebook sales are starting to be overshadowed by tablets and ultra-books (for second quarter laptop sales raised 5% but if compared with 2011, the sales rise is lesser 1.8% – according to data provided by Digital Research agency). There are estimations done by (Forrester Research) pointing until the end of year 2015, sales of notebook substitute portable devices will exceed the overall sales of notebooks. It is manifested today the market dynamics are changing in favour of tabets and the so called next generation laptopsULTRA-BOOKS. It is a mass hype and a marketing lie that Ultra-Books are somehow different from laptops. The difference between a classical laptop and Ultra-Books is the thinner size, less weight and often longer battery use time. Actually Ultra-Books are copying the design concept of Mac MacBook Air trying to resell under a lound name.
Even if in future Ipads, Android tablets, Ultra-Books or whatever kind of mambo-jambo portable devices flood the market, laptops will still be heavily used in future by programmers, office workers, company employees and any person who is in need to do a lot of regular text editting, email use and work with corporative apps. Hence we will see a COMPAC Grid Compass 1011 notebook likes to be dominant until end of the decade.