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Doug Engelbart

inventor, computer mouse

Born in 1925, Engelbart grew up during the Great Depression near Portland, Oregon. During World War II, he served in the Navy, which sent him to the Philippines for two years as an electronic/radar technician. In 1948 he received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering and went to work for NACA Ames Laboratory (forerunner of NASA). He then applied to the graduate program in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and obtained his Ph.D. in 1955. He stayed on at Berkeley as an acting assistant professor but a year later he left to work for Stanford Research Institute, or SRI Intl. Douglas. At SRI, Engelbart earned a dozen patents in two years, working on magnetic computer components, fundamental digital-device phenomena, and miniaturization scaling potential. In 1962 he published his seminal work, "Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework," under contract prepared for the Director of Information Sciences of the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research. This outlined his visionary ideas for using computers to complement humans' intelligence. Many shrugged off his ideas at the time; for most it was too difficult to grasp what he was describing because the concepts were too futuristic.