2013 saw the losses of truly legendary pioneers in computer technology. We look back at four who left their marks.

Douglas Engelbart
There really isn’t any single person more responsible for the look and feel of a modern computer than Douglas Engelbart. The Mother of All Demos is the single most prescient, visionary and revolutionary technology demo ever created.

Engelbart’s team at Stanford Research Institute spent the 1960s inventing the year 2000. Some of their innovations are only just now becoming mainstream. The list of Engelbart and SRI inventions, as shown in the Mother of All Demos, feature the following technological advances:
• The mouse
• The chording keyboard
• The on-screen cursor/mouse paradigm
• The Word Processor
• The Internet-based collaborative Word Processor
• The concept of files for documents

The list goes on, because many of the innovations at SRI were eventually fully formed under the guise of Xerox PARC’s Palo Alto laboratories.

Douglas Engelbart

Engelbart’s influence will continue to be felt throughout computing forever. Without him and his work, we’d all be sitting here alone, without pointing devices or a friendly face of computing for the masses. It’s possible that, without Engelbart, the personal computing revolution might never have happened.

Aaron Swartz
Aaron was the wunderkind of the Internet freedom movement. His work on the RSS specification gained him early fame among the Web development community. His fiery passionate views on information freedom and personal liberties earned him an equal amount of friends and enemies. No matter what you thought of Aaron, however, there was no denying his talent, intelligence and passion for what he felt was right.

About Alex Handy