Douglas Carl Engelbart is an American inventor and early computer pioneer. Engelbart received patent US3,541,541 for an “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System”. At the time, Engelbart envisaged that users would hold the mouse continuously in one hand and type on a five-key chord keyset with the other. Independently, Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) invented the first mouse prototype in 1963, with the assistance of his colleague Bill English. They christened the device the mouse as early models had a cord attached to the rear part of the device looking like a tail and generally resembling the common mouse. Engelbart never received any royalties for it, as his patent ran out before it became widely used in personal computers. The invention of the mouse was just a small part of Engelbart’s much larger project, aimed at augmenting human intellect via the Augmentation Research Center.
Gene Myron Amdahl is a Norwegian American computer architect and hi-tech entrepreneur, chiefly known for his work on mainframe computers at IBM and later his own companies, especially Amdahl Corporation. He is perhaps best known for formulating Amdahl’s law, which states a fundamental limitation of parallel computing. Amdahl was born to immigrant parents of Norwegian and Swedish descent in Flandreau, South Dakota. After serving in the Navy during WWII he completed a degree in engineering physics at South Dakota State University in 1948. He went on to study theoretical physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and completed his doctorate there in 1952 with a thesis titled A Logical Design of an Intermediate Speed Digital Computer and creating his first computer, the WISC. He then went straight from Wisconsin to a well-paid position at IBM in June 1952.
The Xbox is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Microsoft. It was released on November 15, 2001 in North America, February 22, 2002 in Japan, and March 14, 2002 in Australia and Europe and is the predecessor to the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft’s first foray into the gaming console market, and competed with Sony’s PlayStation 2, Sega’s Dreamcast, and Nintendo’s GameCube. The integrated Xbox Live service allowed players to play games online. The Xbox was discontinued in late 2006, although the final Xbox game, Madden NFL 09 was released in August 2008. Support for out-of-warranty Xbox consoles was discontinued on March 2, 2009; any in-warranty repair now needed will not be undertaken and faulty consoles will be replaced with an Xbox 360 instead. Xbox Live support was discontinued on April 15, 2010.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a video blogger, co-owner and director of operations of a wine retail store, and an author and public speaker on the subjects of social media, brand building and e-commerce. Vaynerchuk immigrated to the U.S. in 1978, and after graduating from Mount Ida College in Newton, MA, transformed his father’s Springfield, NJ liquor store into a large scale retail wine store named Wine Library, and in 2006 started the video blog Wine Library TV, a daily internet webcast on the subject of wine, which launched his career of internet celebrity. He has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, GQ, and Time, appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Ellen. Vaynerchuk has been described as “the first wine guru of the YouTube era”, “the wine world’s new superstar”, and by Rob Newsom, a Washington State wine maker, “outside of Robert Parker, probably the most influential wine critic in the United States”. In the July 2009 Decanter publication of “The Power List” ranking of the wine industry’s individuals of influence, Vaynerchuk placed at number 40, citing that he “represents the power of blogging”.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-Dutch-American feminist and atheist activist, writer and politician who is known for her views critical of female genital mutilation and Islam. She wrote the screenplay for Theo van Gogh’s movie Submission, after which she and the director both received death threats, and the director was murdered. The daughter of the Somali politician and opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse, she is a founder of the women’s rights organisation the AHA Foundation. When she was eight, Hirsi Ali’s family left Somalia for Saudi Arabia, then Ethiopia, and eventually settled in Kenya. She sought and obtained political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, under circumstances that later became the centre of a political controversy. In 2003 she was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis surrounding the potential stripping of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from the parliament, and led indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet in 2006.
In 1989, CERN was the largest Internet node in Europe, and Berners-Lee saw an opportunity to join hypertext with the Internet: “I just had to take the hypertext idea and connect it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain name system ideas and—ta-da!—the World Wide Web.” “Creating the web was really an act of desperation, because the situation without it was very difficult when I was working at CERN later. Most of the technology involved in the web, like the hypertext, like the Internet, multifont text objects, had all been designed already. I just had to put them together. It was a step of generalizing, going to a higher level of abstraction, thinking about all the documentation systems out there as being possibly part of a larger imaginary documentation system.” He wrote his initial proposal in March 1989, and in 1990, with the help of Robert Cailliau (with whom he shared the 1995 ACM Software System Award), produced a revision which was accepted by his manager, Mike Sendall. He used similar ideas to those underlying the ENQUIRE system to create the World Wide Web, for which he designed and built the first Web browser, which also functioned as an editor (WorldWideWeb, running on the NeXTSTEP operating system), and the first Web server, CERN HTTPd (short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol daemon).
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th-century American writer. His works such as Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association. Vonnegut’s first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect” appeared in the February 11, 1950 edition of Collier’s (it has since been reprinted in his short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House). His first novel was the dystopian novel Player Piano (1952), in which human workers have been largely replaced by machines. He continued to write short stories before his second novel, The Sirens of Titan, was published in 1959. Through the 1960s, the form of his work changed, from the relatively orthodox structure of Cat’s Cradle (which in 1971 earned him a Master’s Degree) to the acclaimed, semi-autobiographical Slaughterhouse-Five, given a more experimental structure by using time travel as a plot device. These structural experiments were continued in Breakfast of Champions (1973), which includes many rough illustrations, lengthy non-sequiturs and an appearance by the author himself, as a deus ex machina.