COMPUTER PIONEER WINS LEMELSON-MIT PRIZE
Computer Trailblazer Douglas Engelbart
Receives Half-Million Dollars for Invention and Innovation
NEW YORK, NY (April 9, 1997) — Computer pioneer Douglas
Engelbart of Atherton, CA has been named recipient of the 1997 Lemelson-MIT
Prize of $500,000 by the Lemelson-MIT Awards Program, administered
by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Engelbart's groundbreaking inventions are generally credited withthe
creation of collaborative computing, hypertext and community networking
systems and have launched an entire technology industry.
The announcement was made today at the New York Academy of Sciences
in New York City by Professor Lester C. Thurow, internationally
renowned economist of MIT's Sloan School of Management and chairman
of the Lemelson-MIT Prize Board, which oversees the selection process.
Engelbart will be honored at a ceremony the evening of April 10
at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (Washington,
DC) for his contributions to American invention and innovation.
Independent inventor Dr. Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy,
established the Lemelson-MIT Awards Program at MIT in 1994 to recognize
the nation's most talented inventors and to promote positive role
models for American youngsters. The Program's $500,000 Prize celebrates
excellence in creativity, invention and innovation.
"His work in designing a better human-to-computer interface
helped start the personal computer revolution. His exploration of
computing as a communications tool anticipated and helped shape
the current Internet revolution. Inside the technology community
he enjoys an enormous reputation, but the general public is only
now beginning to discover the magnitude of his contribution to the
Information Age." said Charles M. Vest, president of MIT.
Thurow calls Engelbart a "true visionary " for his pioneering
works that enable users to navigate, share and retrieve information
from computers and allow several people to collaborate at the same
Sun Microsystems' CEO, President and Chairman of the Board Scott
McNealy commented, "Sun Microsystems applauds Doug Engelbart
for winning the 1997 Lemelson-MIT Prize. Doug pioneered network
computing technologies when it was not popular to do so in the 60s
and 70s. His vision, courage and tenacity to open, non proprietary
interfaces continues to contribute to every man, woman and child
having access to the collective wisdom of the planet that resides
on the network."
"We at Netscape are delighted to see Doug so beautifully recognized
for his contributions and his vision", said Martin Haeberli,
Director of Technology for Netscape Communications. "Doug's
deep thinking, foresight, passion, persistence, and insight created
a context that made possible many of the new ways that computer-mediated
collaboration and computer systems transform individual and organizational
performance. Yet Doug remains at once incredibly low-key, modest,
and unassuming in his continued pursuit of his goals to make
it possible for people and teams, small as well as global, to dramatically
improve their effectiveness and results."
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Commenting on his half-million dollar prize, Engelbart said, "It
would be wonderful if I can inspire others, who are struggling to
realize their dreams, to say 'if this country kid could do it, let
me keep slogging away'."
Engelbart began his explorations into the augmentation of human
intellect through computers as early as the 1950s, years before
desktop computing and personal computers became a reality. In the
1960s he created the computer "mouse" and later received
a patent for it in 1970 (X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System).
Engelbart's team made history in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer
Conference in San Francisco, when they demonstrated their fully-integrated
two-way computer/video teleconference, anticipating today's "multimedia
revolution" by decades.
Throughout the 1960s and '70s, his lab pioneered elaborate communications
systems, including the NLS oNLine System and the Network Information
Center for ARPAnet, the primary research network in the United States
in the 1970s and '80s and precursor of the current Internet. In
1989 Engelbart founded, and directs, the Bootstrap Institute, where
he works closely with the industry and government on practical applications
of his work that will lead the industry into the 21st Century.
Other technological firsts include the creation of hypermedia,
multiple-window screens, multi-tool integration, and online publishing.
Additionally, the creation of groupware allows several users in
different locations to work on the same document at the same time.
Engelbart also foresaw the sharing of documents in cyberspace, video
conferencing and electronic mail systems. These discoveries accelerated
the evolution of the computer industry and set the stage for the
development of more advanced technology that enables people to use
computers more efficiently and effectively.
Today, anyone who uses a computer is enjoying the benefits of Engelbart's
creations. Since its patent in 1970, more than 100 million computer
"mice" have been sold by Logitech Inc., the world leader
in computer mice manufacturing.
"Engelbart's contributions to the future of computing extend
beyond his revolutionary innovations," said Lemelson. "His
achievements signal the importance of vision and determination that
will inspire future generations of innovators."
Based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, the Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994
by the late independent inventor Jerome H. Lemelson and his wife,
Dorothy. The Program celebrates inventor/innovator role models through
outreach activities and annual awards including the world's largest
for invention, the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. The Program encourages
young Americans to pursue careers in the fields of science, engineering,
technology and entrepreneurship. The Lemelson-MIT Program is funded
by the Lemelson Foundation, which supports other invention initiatives
at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Hampshire
College, the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance
and the University of Nevada, Reno.
Last year's winners, Dr. Stanley N. Cohen and Dr. Herbert W. Boyer
are credited with launching the biotechnology industry through three
seminal patents on gene cloning. The first winner of the Lemelson-MIT
Prize was William Bolander, an automotive engineer whose technological
innovations have greatly improved both passenger safety and automotive
performance. Also this year, the Awards Program presented an honorary
Lifetime Achievement Award for career-long accomplishments to Dr.
Gertrude Elion, Nobel Prize winner in medicine, co-creator of two
of the first successful drugs to combat acute leukemia, and holder
of 45 patents for inventing numerous lifesaving drugs from 1944
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