Douglas Engelbart was awarded a patent on November 17, 1970 for the invention of the computer mouse.

The first computer mouse held by Engelbart sho...

The first computer mouse held by inventor Douglas Engelbart showing the wheels that directly contact the working surface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It had track wheels, instead of the ball that would later become standard. The patent was assigned to his employer, Stanford Research Institute (SRI).

Engelbart, with the help of his lead engineer, who built the mouse from Engelbart’s drawings, invented the mouse in 1963. English described it in a 1965 paper, “Computer-Aided Display Control.”

The trackball design for a mouse started with a bowling ball in 1952, and was invented by  Tom Cranston, Fred Longstaff adn Kenyon taylor,.

It was eventually incorporated into a mouse first by a German computing company, Telfunken, in 1968.

Engelbart and English called their invention a mouse because of the long wire attached that looked like a tail.

English, by then at Xerox Parc, changed the original wheels of the mouse to a track ball in 1972.

On April 27, 1981, Xerox started shipping their 8010 Star Information System, making it the first company to sell personal computers with a mouse.

This attracted the attention of Apple, which added the mouse to its software developers’ platform, the Lisa.

Microsoft started making its software compatible with the mouse in 1982.

The mouse hit its stride in 1984, when it was shipped with the Macintosh.

Engelbart had founded the Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at SRI specifically to harness the power of computers to aggregate information and use them to solve big problems.

He was set on this path by reading a paper by a leading scientist just after the end of World War II who thought that the nation’s scientists should devote their talents to advancing human knowledge in peacetime, after their long concentration on using science for destruction during the war.

The paper, “As We May Think,” was written by Vannevar Bush, Director of the federal government’s Office of Scientific Research and Development, who initiated and oversaw the Manhattan Project, responsible for developing the atomic bomb, and later, the creation of the National Science Foundation, that led to discovery of the structure of DNA.

In addition to inventing the computer mouse, Engelbart was responsible for the invention of hypertext, the precursor to HTML, networked computers and the beginnings of the graphical user interface, all extensions of his vision for making the computer the center of easily accessible information.

Do you remember having to clean out the trackball on your mouse?

Did you ever use computers before the mouse, when we just had keyboards?

Have you ever used a wireless mouse, with no “tail”?

To you and giving your grandchildren access to the information of the world.

Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma?


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