Doug Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse, dies at 88

By on July 3, 2013, 4:00 PM
mouse, doug engelbart, inventor, computer legend

Doug Engelbart, the man responsible for a number of key inventions during the early age of computing, has died at the age of 88. News of his death was confirmed by the Computer History Museum as well as the Stanford Research Institute according to multiple reports.

Engelbart was described as a visionary during the 1950s and ‘60s when a single computer enveloped an entire room. He believed that computers could be used to augment human intellect and share ideas about solving various world problems. True enough, we have the Internet today but it was another idea – or invention, rather, that was Engelbart’s most successful accomplishment.

The American inventor is responsible for creating the mouse which he first developed in the 1960s and patented in 1970. Early prototypes consisted of a wooden shell with two metal balls inside: one for the X axis and one for the Y axis.

As you can imagine, a device of this nature was well ahead of its time but perhaps nobody ultimately realized that more than Engelbart himself. You see, the mouse didn’t become commercially available until Apple’s new Macintosh hit the scene in 1984. By 1987, however, the patent on his device expired and landed in the public domain.

This meant that Engelbart and his colleagues weren’t able to collect royalties on the mouse once it became widely used. To give you a bit of perspective, more than 1 billion mice have been sold since the mid 1980s.




User Comments: 10

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Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

As you can imagine, a device of this nature was well ahead of its time but perhaps nobody ultimately realized that more than Engelbart himself. You see, the mouse didn?t become commercially available until Apple?s new Macintosh hit the scene in 1984. By 1987, however, the patent on his device expired and landed in the public domain.

Another example for the apple fan-boys? lol

free4rm said:

Saddened to hear of the passing of a pioneer of modern technology. Many take for granted how all the modern devices we use today came to be and the creative individuals that have shaped our modern world. Thank you Mr. Engelbart!

fimbles fimbles said:

Bill english invented the mouse, engelbert was his boss.

fimbles fimbles said:

It is also thought that bill himself ripped off the idea from this:

[link]

SexyMan SexyMan said:

Well, from 1928 up to now, Disney still have the rights for Mickey Mouse.. But this guy who made or help made the mouse only made money of his popularly and widely used invention from 1970 to 1987 .. Something is really wrong here.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

RIP Doug. The world needs more people like you.

1 person liked this | DefragMind said:

As you can imagine, a device of this nature was well ahead of its time but perhaps nobody ultimately realized that more than Engelbart himself. You see, the mouse didn?t become commercially available until Apple?s new Macintosh hit the scene in 1984. By 1987, however, the patent on his device expired and landed in the public domain.

Another example for the apple fan-boys? lol

The idea of one person having invented a completely new product or concept is just plain ludicrous. Nothing comes into existence without something else having existed prior to that. Zealous chauvinists and nationalists of course love to think that an inhabitant of "their" country has invented something without being influenced by other people's ideas or concepts but that way of thinking is so simplistic. Don't we ever get tired of that illusion? Also: what is the point of fragmented thinking? Who benefits from that? This idea of "they" vs. "us" or "you" vs. "I" ...

danhodge danhodge said:

Well, from 1928 up to now, Disney still have the rights for Mickey Mouse.. But this guy who made or help made the mouse only made money of his popularly and widely used invention from 1970 to 1987 .. Something is really wrong here.

I'm no lawyer, but I'm fairly certain that's because Mickey Mouse is a trademark (or copyright, maybe it counts as media?), and the mouse was a patent.

A never-ending patent would stunt innovation, whereas a never-ending trademark/copyright wouldn't really have any negative consequences to that magnitude.

Imagine if that patent had stuck until now, and only one company had the rights to make a mouse. The technology wouldn't have advanced to a level anywhere close to what it is at now.

I agree that it sucks that this guy didn't make much money from this invention though. Seems like he bloody deserved it... A true visionary.

dms96960 said:

It is also thought that bill himself ripped off the idea from this:

[link]

Not sure about that since oldmouse.com says that Engelbart applied for a patent in 1967 and that

"Telefunken company developed a mouse, which was described (and pictured) in a company magazine in October 1968, I.e. a few weeks before Doug Engelbart's demo, where he presented his mouse to the public."

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

The idea of one person having invented a completely new product or concept is just plain ludicrous. Nothing comes into existence without something else having existed prior to that. Zealous chauvinists and nationalists of course love to think that an inhabitant of "their" country has invented something without being influenced by other people's ideas or concepts but that way of thinking is so simplistic. Don't we ever get tired of that illusion? Also: what is the point of fragmented thinking? Who benefits from that? This idea of "they" vs. "us" or "you" vs. "I" ...

It's not really that serious... hence the LOL. Some would have called it trolling... most of what you said actually does not make much sense. There was someone out there to create the first "widget" before the "widget" ever existed. People invent new things all the time, dude! Things that were otherwise never in existence!

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