Key Quotes

No human being can hold very many concepts in his head at one time... Beyond a certain number and complexity of interrelationships, he cannot depend upon spatial-pattern help alone and seeks other more abstract associations and linkages. A way to store, retrieve, and manipulate the information within our individual's private domain, with information-packet sizes that match his actual needs (i.e., separate concepts, facts, considerations, etc.), could go far toward increasing the effectiveness of his mental capabilities to the level needed for the extended and complex problems that are the pressing ones of our day.

A significant improvement in symbol-structure manipulation through better process structuring (initially perhaps through much better artifacts) should enable us to develop improvements in concept and mental-structure manipulations that can in turn enable us to organize and execute symbol-manipulation processes of increased power. To most people who initially consider the possibilities for computer-like devices augmenting the human intellect, it is only the one-pass improvement that comes to mind, which presents a picture that is relatively barren compared to that which emerges when one considers this regenerative interaction.

Computer-aided dialogue has certain advantages to offer: interchanges in cycle times of minutes or seconds instead of years or months; accommodating more items, and items of much smaller size, without overloading the "clerical system"; accommodating more people making simultaneous accesses and contributions; providing citation followup to exact items (i.e., the computer can take you almost instantly to look at the particular item cited within another "document").

I think that tomorrow's institutions can be (must be) far better adapted to their environment, much better at providing for a full life style for everyone. These changes require a very significant increase in the institutions' ability to develop, support, and integrate the intellectual power of their individuals and organizations. And, as I see it, this ability will be directly dependent upon advanced application of interactive computers and multi-access computer networks... It is time, and the means are at hand, to develop a much improved nervous system for our "social organisms".

Selected Works


Special Considerations of the Individual as User, Generator, and Retriever of Information

Summary Report

Augmenting Human Intellect

A Conceptual Framework


Intellectual Implications of Multi-Access Computer Networks


The Augmentation Papers

A Collection since 1960



Douglas Engelbart, Coevolution, and the Origins of Personal Computing

External Links