Farewell to a true technology pioneer. In 1962, years before the famous demo, he was speculating about life with iPhone-like devices:
…we might imagine some relatively straightforward means of increasing our external symbol-manipulation capability and try to picture the consequent changes that could evolve in our language and methods of thinking.
For instance, imagine that our budding technology of a few generations ago had developed an artifact that was essentially a high-speed, semiautomatic table-lookup device, cheap enough for almost everyone to afford and small enough to be carried on the person. Assume that the individual cartridges sold by manufacturers (publishers) contained the lookup information, that one cartridge could hold the equivalent of an unabridged dictionary, and that a one-paragraph definition could always be located by the average practices individual in less than three seconds.
What changes in language and methodology might not result? If it were so easy to look things up, how would our vocabulary develop, how would our habits of exploring the intellectual domains of others shift, how might the sophistication of practical organization mature (if each person could so quickly and easily look up applicable rules), how would our education system take advantage of this new external symbol-manipulation capability of students and teachers and administrators?
full Engelbart 1962 SRI paper, AUGMENTING HUMAN INTELLECT: A Conceptual Framework