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"If in your office, you, as an intellectual worker, were supplied with a computer display backed up by a computer that was alive for you all day and was instantly responsive to every action you have, how much value could you derive from that? "
Staff working at the Augmentation Research Center

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Augmentation Research Center <1963>

It all began in the early 1960s when ARPA had a number of offices in high technology. It's an agency, that's Advanced Research Projects Agency, that sits in the office of Secretary of Defense, down under a whole bunch of other stuff. And its idea was it would launch and push for advanced technologies and get them far enough so that the rest of the military processes could take them up. So it was advanced exploration.

When J. C. R. Licklider came from Cambridge to take over ARPA's newly formed Information Processing Techniques Office in late 1962, I was figuratively standing at the door with the Conceptual Framework report and a proposal. There the unlucky fellow was, having advertised that "man computer symbiosis," computer time-sharing, man-computer interface etc. were the new directions -- how could he in reasonable consistency turn this down, even if it was way out there in Menlo Park.

So Licklider gave me money. And we started building up a team. And we made some pretty dismal flops first, but then we got going on this thing. And this bootstrapping really started working. We lived it. We built the things, used it daily, and lived it.

This basically characterizes what we pursued for many years in what we called the "Augmentation Research Center" at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park.

ARC was driven by a coherent, long-term pursuit. This involved the continuing evolution of an ever-larger and more sophisticated system of hardware and software. It also came to involve delivering solid support service to outside clients to provide meaningful environments for learning about the all-important co-evolution processes in human organizations (human system & tool system).