Douglas Engelbart invents the mouse

Douglas Engelbart invents the mouse

Douglas Engelbart worked at SRI International developing tools to make it easier for people to use computers. At that time, computer didn't have a graphical user interface -- all computer work was done by typing commands on a keyboard.

Around 1964, Douglas Engelbart invented the mouse. His prototype consisted of a wooden shell with two thin metal wheels that came into contact with the surface it was being used on.

In 1967, Engelbart applied for, and in 1970 he received U.S. Patent 3,541,541 for his invention. This patent makes no mention of the word "mouse", describing the device as an "X-Y position indicator for a display system".

When Engelbart was asked where the name came from, he said:

"No one can remember. It just looked like a mouse with a tail, and we all called it that."

Engelbart never received any royalties for his mouse invention, saying:

"SRI patented the mouse, but they really had no idea of its value. Some years later it was learned that they had licensed it to Apple for something like $40,000."

Engelbart's mouse was first publicly demonstrated at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference. The presentation is available to read on this page: A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect.

Related information:


  • The first computer mouse, invented by Douglas Engelbart, on display at the National Museum of American History
    Credit: Kazuhisa OTSUBO from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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