Doug Engelbart and the Computer Mouse

First Computer Mouse Prototype
© SRI International

On November 17, 1962, Douglas C. Engelbart has been granted a patent on the world’s first computer mouse.

Using the computer mouse has become as usual as eating with knife and fork these days. But this has not always been the case, since the first computers had no graphical interface and every command had to be typed in with a keyboard, which made the use of computers quite complicated.

It was Douglas Engelbart in 1963, who worked at the Stanford Research Institute on human computer interactions and was looking for a better solution to navigate though the system. His first prototype of a mouse was ready in 1968, Engelbart presented his results at a congress but found no prospective customer due to the unfortunate fact that graphical interfaces were still not in use.

During the 1970’s Engelbart was able to focus on his mouse-research at the Palo Alto Research Center, where he developed the very first ball-mouse, which was first used by Xerox. The company was already using graphical interfaces and therefore appreciated Engelbart’s contributions.

The development of the mouse gradually encouraged computer scientists to improve the graphical interfaces and to improve the computer’s usability. The company Apple noticed the new trend, but also saw the difficulty that the new mouse was just too expensive (400 USD) for the market. They occupied many engineers to build a mouse that was smarter and could be sold for only 25$. The new improved pointer was first introduced with Apples computerLisa‘, but due to the high costs of the computer it was not a great success. However, the release of ‘Lisa‘ and the new computer mouse was a breakthrough and was seen as the ultimate intersection between humans and machines.

At yovisto you can watch Doug Engelbart himself talking about innovation and entrepreneurship at the UC Berkeley.

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