Update: Dave Winer (indirectly) reminds us that Engelbart's watchword was "bootstrapping", that is incremental / piecemeal development.
Bootstrap is an ancient computer science term. When you turn on a computer it bootstraps, or "boots." First it loads the most ancient bit of code, probably written in the 1970s. It runs a program written in the 80s, which in turn launches a program written in the 90s. Each of the levels loads only for the purpose of loading the next bit of history. Doug Engelbart was the first to use the term in the context of this piece, as far as I know. All engineers bootstrap all the time. To understand bootstrapping is to understand software, imho. It's the process that matters, not the bits, or system requirements.
Today "lean" and "agile" are the hyped terms, but Engelbart was on the case here too.
But this would also be a corner-turn for the VC industry, because, as it's now structured, they funnel tens or hundreds of millions of dollars through a relatively small number of companies. However an opportunistic VC would have an incubator (call it something else if you want) that flows much smaller amounts of money to the bright eyes, without much fuss and not many strings attached, while we figure out how to get a few backplane companies going.
Did Dave just invent Y-Combinator?