Happy 88th birthday today to Doug Engelbart! Who’s Doug Engelbart, some of you may ask? Only the man who invented the computer mouse, that’s all. Without him, we might all still be forced to navigate around our computer screens with only a keyboard. Ok, and maybe a trackpad, but still...
Engelbart, along with engineer Bill English, developed the mouse in the mid-1960’s while working at the Stanford Research Institute. Engelbart received a patent for the mouse, or as it was technically called, an “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System,” in 1970.
That first mouse prototype, as you can see in the picture above, was very different from the mice we know today. It was made of wood, had two wheels on the bottom instead of a ball or optics (one for the X-direction, one for the Y-direction), and (I believe) ran on leaded gasoline. Someone please fact check me on that last one.
In any case, the rest, as they say, is history. The mouse has become one of the most ubiquitous pieces of office equipment over the last 45 years or so. It’s also evolved quite a bit over that time, from those old three button mechanical clunkers, to the wireless optical ones, to today’s latest and greatest mice. Of course, there have also been no shortage of novelty mice available, if that’s your thing.
Back in 2008 Logitech, long one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of computer peripherals, reached quite a milestone when it produced its 1 billionth mouse. To celebrate, they shared a bunch of historical information about the computer mouse, including an interview with Engelbart himself, some “mouse fun facts” (“A minimum of 23 people contribute to making the Logitech mouse”) and a handful of mouse prototypes that never saw the light of day. For example...
A mouse with a joystick
Reason for rejection: “There weren’t many applications that could benefit from this.“ Good thinking.
A mouse with three scroll wheels
Reason for rejection: “Way too confusing.” I'd say.