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Review: The Demo, a Musical About the Mouse

A Silicon Valley production re-creates the Doug Engelbart demo that foreshadowed modern computing

3 min read
Review: The Demo, a Musical About the Mouse

imgHigh-Tech Theater: Mikel Rouse (right) re-creates Douglas Engelbart’s famous introduction of the computer mouse in 1968.Photo: Valerie Oliveiro

In 1968, at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, Douglas Engelbart blew an audience away by showcasing a set of computing technologies then under development at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) in Menlo Park, Calif. His demonstration was the first time the wider computing community had seen a mouse, word processing, dynamic links, shared-screen collaboration, and many other elements of what is now considered modern computing.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush

Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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