Computer Mouse Inventor Douglas C. Engelbart Dead At 88


Douglas C. Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse many of us still us every day, has died at the age of 88.

Engelbart was a Ph.D and computer science pioneer known for his many accomplishments in the field, but more widely known as the inventor of the computer mouse. He passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 88.

He first demonstrated his computer mouse prototype in 1968 at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, along with a vision for networked computing, eventually used in personal computing of the 80s by Apple and Microsoft. In what has been called the “Mother of All Demos,” he called the system an “oN-Line System” which included hypertext links and shared-screen collaboration.

Visionary stuff that we take for granted today.

But the mouse is his most widely-recognized achievement. The idea came to him in 1964 when he sketched the device and showed it to a colleague at the Stanford Research Institute.

Engelbart got a patent for the computer mouse in 1970, in which it was described as “an X-Y position indicator control for movement by the hand over any surface to move a cursor over the display on a cathode ray tube, the indicator control generating signals indicating its position to cause a cursor to be displayed on the tube at the corresponding position.”

Unfortunately, his patent fell into the public domain in 1987 and he was unable to collect royalties from the computer mouse at the height of its popularity.

But he will always be fondly remembered by colleagues for his innovation in the computer world.

“Doug was a giant who made the world a much better place and who deeply touched those of us who knew him,” said president and CEO of SRI International Curtis R. Carlson.

“SRI was very privileged and honored to have him as one of our ‘family.’ He brought tremendous value to society. We will miss his genius, warmth and charm. Doug’s legacy is immense—anyone in the world who uses a mouse or enjoys the productive benefits of a personal computer is indebted to him.”

Rest in peace, Douglas Engelbart! Every time I click “publish” with my computer mouse, I will think of you, good sir.