Doug Engelbart - Inventor of the Computer Mouse, Dies at 88

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The inventor of the computer mouse Douglas Engelbart has died aged 88.

He developed the original concept for the mouse as a wooden shell with two metal wheels and a small switch on top. Although described formally as an "X-Y position indicator for a display system", Engelbart later revealed that it was nicknamed the "mouse" because the tail came out the end.

They also tried to nickname the cursor that appeared on the screen "the bug", but people have evidently preferred to call it a cursor -- bugs being something computer engineers spend a lot of time trying to eradicate.

In December 1968, he showed off the mouse at a computer conference in what has later become known as the "mother of all demos" for the impact it had on the audience.

The mouse was granted a patent in 1970, but Engelbart did not profit from the vast popularity of the device as the patent expired before home computing took off.

The company he worked for at the time though, made US$40,000 from licensing the mouse to Apple for use on its Macintosh computers.

Engelbart slipped into relative obscurity after 1976, although he later received a number of honours reflecting not just his work on the computer mouse, but other developments in improving human-computer interfaces and software systems.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease in 2007, and died at home on July 2, 2013 due to kidney failure. He was 88 and is survived by his wife, four children from his first marriage, and nine grandchildren.

Click on images to enlarge


First computer mouse prototype

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