Inside America: The Rise and Fall of An Empire

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America was changing quickly. As life became more complex and Americans had more money to spend. Americans began traveling more and may young Americans also began asking deeper personal questions about the true meaning of their lives. Women and men married later and also had sex before marriage more often. Also American families began to have fewer children and the divorce rate began climbing higher. People wanted more freedom with their personal lives while also realizing that national and global problems demanded more collective action. Americans were caught up in many kinds of contradictions.


In 1968 a little known, yet historic event took place in San Francisco at a computer conference. A middle-aged man took the conference stage. He was decked out in a microphone and headphones set and he seated himself in front of a new device that featured a keyboard and many other strange things. Behind him was a big screen on which much of the demonstration would play out. What the audience then saw amazed them. On the split-screen screen could be seen text, graphics, and videos. The man controlled all the screen elements with a device called a mouse.

This man was named Douglas Englebart. Another man with the same kind of device in another location spoke to Mr. Englebart via an audio-video connection and then took turns working with the same texts, graphics, and videos using the same mouse which Englebart had invented. This was a great moment in American history and only a few people really knew it.

All the components for the World Wide Web together with video-teleconferencing had just been demonstrated to the audience before personal computers even existed. The foundations of the Third Wave were already set in place. But this new technological vision was so far ahead of its time that neither business, nor government, nor the universities were ready to provide more money for Mr.Englebart's projects. It would take another twenty years before the rest of the country would catch up with Mr.Englebart's vision of the future.

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All contents of this site copyright by Michael Arthur Finberg