Inventor of the computer mouse dies at 88

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Though the mouse didn't become the standard way to control a desktop computer until Apple released the Macintosh in 1984, it was first invented 20 years earlier by a visionary World War II veteran named Douglas C. Engelbart, who passed away this week at the age of 88.

Mouse
Left: Douglas C Engelbart with an early computer mouse in 1968 (Photo via SRI International). Right: Apple's Magic Mouse, launched in 2009.


Engelbart's legacy will live on as the pioneer who showed off the first mouse in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, Calif. There, according to The New York Times, he showed more than a thousand of the world's leading computer scientists a method of controlling a computer with a mouse and keyboard.

"In little more than an hour, he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists," reporter John Markoff wrote. "He demonstrated how a mouse, which he invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing."

Born in Portland, Ore., on Jan. 25, 1925, Engelbart was a graduate of Oregon State College who was drafted late into World War II. He spent two years in the Navy as a radar technician, and later received a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.The first computer mouse was publicly unveiled in 1968 by its inventor, Douglas C. Engelbart.

He invented the computer mouse in 1964 ? two decades before it would ship with the first Apple Macintosh. The idea occurred to him when attending a computer graphics conference, and he was brainstorming ways to move an onscreen cursor.

Early mouse hardware could only accommodate up to three buttons, but Engelbart felt that future versions could have up to 10 buttons for greater control options. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously had a very different approach, limiting the Macintosh mouse to just one button for simplicity.

The mouse remained an obscure computing accessory until Apple released the Macintosh 128K in 1984. The mouse that shipped with that mass-market system was actually a slightly updated version of the mouse created for the Apple Lisa ? a less popular personal computer that was released a year earlier.

The first Macintosh Mouse, model M0100, featured a rubber ball for tracking, and connected to the Macintosh through a DE-9 connector. Apple has continued to evolve the mouse over the years, most recently with the multi-touch-capable Magic Mouse, released in late 2009.

While the Magic Mouse is vastly different from the first Macintosh Mouse, it and most other computer mice still adhere to the same concept first invented by Engelbart in 1964. Modern mice have replaced track balls with lasers and now connect wirelessly, usually via Bluetooth, to computers.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    asciiascii Posts: 5,936member
    It made me so sad when I read this earlier today. The Mother of All Demos was so forward-looking. It felt like watching some genius showing the world his ideas all the while knowing they would not understand anyway.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    applesauce007applesauce007 Posts: 1,685member
    Thank You. Godspeed. God Bless. Peace.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,922member
    Will his coffin have 1 or 2 buttons?

    Thanks for your contribution!
  • Reply 4 of 27
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member


    Rest in Peace sir! 

  • Reply 5 of 27
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member
    Respect.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,526member
    John Markoff wrote the obit story for the NY Times linked to above. He tells the story more completely in his book, my favorite about the era, [I]What the Dormouse Said[/I].

    Englebart was a great visionary, grew up on a farm—no contradiction there. I've noticed that kids who grow up on farms can work on anything, do a lot of thinking about reality, and are grounded in practicality. No strangers to either mechanics or electronics, plus they get along with whatever nature throws at them, including know-nothing city people.

    The comments to the Times story are also worth reading. A lot of old-timers add detail, and there is the usual stupid stuff about Jobs ripping off Xerox just to keep you going.
  • Reply 6 of 27
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member


    First demonstration of computer mouse in '68.


    Fully working prototype of Xerox Alto developed in '73.


    Apple launches first Mac in '84.


     


    I bet, if you trace the history of tablet computing, the velocity of development is similar. 

  • Reply 8 of 27
    bwikbwik Posts: 564member


    APple is doomed.

  • Reply 9 of 27
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 413member


    Not an original idea from Apple?


     


    Mmmm...

  • Reply 10 of 27
    s.metcalfs.metcalf Posts: 923member
    No one ever said the Apple invented to mouse or it was their idea...
  • Reply 11 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    blitz1 wrote: »
    Not an original idea from Apple?

    Thanks for the strawman. Just go away.
  • Reply 12 of 27
    blitz1blitz1 Posts: 413member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post





    Thanks for the strawman. Just go away.


    Every opinion is as legitimate as any other.


    Even yours

  • Reply 13 of 27
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    [quote name="Blitz1" url="/t/158367/inventor-of-the-computer-mouse-dies-at-88#post_2357476"]Every opinion is as legitimate as any other.[/QUOTE]

    This is what trolls actually believe. :no:
  • Reply 14 of 27
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,790moderator
    Yahoo had an article today about Engelbart and some others who failed to make much profit from their inventions:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/mouse-inventor-doug-engelbart-dies--10-inventors-who-failed-to-profit-from-their-ideas-111454584.html

    It puts a bit of a different perspective on patent wars. If people and companies don't protect their ideas properly no matter how trivial or irrelevant they seem at the time, someone else will come along and profit from their hard work and the timing is very crucial.

    Apple is at least fortunate enough to have been able to profit very soon from the likes of the iPhone and iPad - just a few years after designing them. They made some mistakes with the Mac:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/03/06/apple_thanks_microsoft_for_inventing/

    but making that first mistake is all it takes to encourage people to never make it again as is evident with some of those listed in the Yahoo article.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,806member

    While the Magic Mouse is vastly different from the first Macintosh Mouse, it and most other computer mice still adhere to the same concept first invented by Engelbart in 1964. Modern mice have replaced track balls with lasers and now connect wirelessly, usually via Bluetooth, to computers.
    Mouses connecting via Bluetooth are almost soley in apple (and partners) devices only, most mouses wireless (less than half of windows) use infrared via USB port, rarely wifi, but most still use a infrared as said but what do you think is the current market average of people using a trackpad to a mouse? As for I have 3 computers in our house (mouse trackpad compatible) 2 windows(1 desktop:mouse and laptop with trackpad) and 1 MacBook with obvious major trackpad but a rare use of apple wireless mouse so its a little more trackpad without the use of Remote mouse app (http://www.remotemouse.net/) Obvoiusly considered trackpad use higher when included however.
  • Reply 16 of 27
    stike vomitstike vomit Posts: 195member


    Very sad news indeed.

  • Reply 17 of 27
    stike vomitstike vomit Posts: 195member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post





    Mouses connecting via Bluetooth are almost soley in apple (and partners) devices only, most mouses wireless (less than half of windows) use infrared via USB port, rarely wifi, but most still use a infrared as said but what do you think is the current market average of people using a trackpad to a mouse? As for I have 3 computers in our house (mouse trackpad compatible) 2 windows(1 desktop:mouse and laptop with trackpad) and 1 MacBook with obvious major trackpad but a rare use of apple wireless mouse so its a little more trackpad without the use of Remote mouse app (http://www.remotemouse.net/) Obvoiusly considered trackpad use higher when included however.




     


  • Reply 18 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post





    Mouses connecting via Bluetooth are almost soley in apple (and partners) devices only, most mouses wireless (less than half of windows) use infrared via USB port, rarely wifi, but most still use a infrared as said but what do you think is the current market average of people using a trackpad to a mouse? As for I have 3 computers in our house (mouse trackpad compatible) 2 windows(1 desktop:mouse and laptop with trackpad) and 1 MacBook with obvious major trackpad but a rare use of apple wireless mouse so its a little more trackpad without the use of Remote mouse app (http://www.remotemouse.net/) Obvoiusly considered trackpad use higher when included however.


    Complete utter rubbish! Translated by a machine, methinks.

  • Reply 19 of 27

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    Yahoo had an article today about Engelbart and some others who failed to make much profit from their inventions:



    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/mouse-inventor-doug-engelbart-dies--10-inventors-who-failed-to-profit-from-their-ideas-111454584.html



    It puts a bit of a different perspective on patent wars. If people and companies don't protect their ideas properly no matter how trivial or irrelevant they seem at the time, someone else will come along and profit from their hard work and the timing is very crucial.



    Apple is at least fortunate enough to have been able to profit very soon from the likes of the iPhone and iPad - just a few years after designing them. They made some mistakes with the Mac:



    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/03/06/apple_thanks_microsoft_for_inventing/



    but making that first mistake is all it takes to encourage people to never make it again as is evident with some of those listed in the Yahoo article.


     


    I don't think anyone here is foolish enough to consider either the iPhone or the iPad as inventions. They are skillful, elegant packaging and implementation of existing technologies. This is Apple's forte. They naturally seek protect these devices from being plagiarised in any way they can, hence the copious seemingly pointless patent applications and lawsuits.


     


    Would the first Apple Mac have even gotten off the drawing board in this current litigious environment?

  • Reply 20 of 27
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post



    Yahoo had an article today about Engelbart and some others who failed to make much profit from their inventions:



    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/mouse-inventor-doug-engelbart-dies--10-inventors-who-failed-to-profit-from-their-ideas-111454584.html



    It puts a bit of a different perspective on patent wars. If people and companies don't protect their ideas properly no matter how trivial or irrelevant they seem at the time, someone else will come along and profit from their hard work and the timing is very crucial.


     


    It sounds like he lived a rich life none-the-less. 


     


    And to think that the mouse was just one small part of a larger demo. Incredible.

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