With the busy, pre-holiday shopping of your weekend, you may have missed the birthday yesterday of the computer mouse.
On November 18, 1970, Douglas Engelbart received a patent for the first computer mouse, while working at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Having first conceptualized the idea in the decade of the 1960s, he wanted to develop easy, intuitive ways for people to interact with technology.
Garrison Keillor, quotes Englebart as saying, in “We had a big heavy tracking ball, it was like a cannonball,” he said in a 2001 BBC interview. “We had several gadgets that ended up with pivots you could move around. We had a light panel you had to hold up right next to the screen so the computer could see it. And a joystick that you wiggle around to try to steer things.” Engelbart first demonstrated his “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System” in 1968. It was a wooden shell over two metal wheels, and his team had been informally calling the small, boxy device a “mouse” in the lab, because the cord resembled a mouse’s tail.
Garrison Keillor, writes in The Writer’s Almanac that “Englebart never received any royalties, and SRI ended up licensing the mouse to Apple for a mere $40,000. He was disappointed, but not because he lost out on the money. ‘It’s strange because I’ve had my eye set on something way beyond that. It’s sort of a disappointment that the world and I haven’t yet got further,’ he said in 2001.”
Today, raise your mouse in Englebart’s honor!