When Douglas Engelbart read a Vannevar Bush essay on a Philippine island in the aftermath of World War II, he found the conceptual space to imagine what would become our Internet.
“Millions of copies of the September 10 issue were printed and distributed around the world. LIFE had established itself as the preeminent photo chronicler of World War II and the Red Cross habitually kept reading materials like it around for soldiers. And so it was that a copy of that issue, containing most of Bush’s article — including the whole Memex section and conclusion quoted here — made its way to a Red Cross library on the (even now, still remote) island of Leyte in the Philippines.”
“Meanwhile, young Doug Engelbart, a radar technician in the Navy who never saw combat (the war ended as his boat pulled out of the San Francisco Bay), was on his way to the Philippines, too. He was transferred to Leyte, the island, and though the record is not precisely clear on this point, perhaps to the little village called Leyte, too, at the end of a long inlet. It was here that, in the words of John Markoff, Engelbart ‘stumbled across a Red Cross reading library in a native hut set on stilts, complete with thatched roof and plentiful bamboo.'”