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Anthill 32: the ‘mother of all demos’ when computers first got personal

It was a year of huge social upheaval around the world. Amid the protests, outrage and uprisings, other momentous events took place in 1968 that continue to shape the world 50 years later.

In this episode of The Anthill podcast, we feature a story from Heat and Light, a podcast series by our colleagues over at The Conversation US, focusing on seven key but lesser known stories that shaped America from the year 1968. This one is about a demonstration in December that year, which became known as the “mother of all demos”, and played an important role in the development of Silicon Valley as we know it today.

Heat and Light host Phillip Martin interviews Margaret O'Mara, professor of history at the University of Washington, about what happened when Douglas Engelbart took to the stage at San Francisco’s Civic Auditorium in December 1968 to demonstrate a prototype of the mouse. It was the first time computing got personal.

We’re always keen to hear what our listeners think about The Anthill. So we’ve created a short survey to gather your feedback and help us plan future podcasts at The Conversation. You can find the survey here. And you can always email us at or find us on Twitter @AnthillPod – we’d love to hear from you.

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Photo: Michael Hicks via Wikimedia Commons

Music: “By Grace” by Podington Bear, found on, licensed under CC0 1

“Motions” by Rafael Krux, found on, licensed under CC0 1

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