The History of the Computer Mouse and the Prototype for Windows - Douglas Engelbart
By Mary Bellis
"It would be wonderful if I can inspire others, who are struggling to realize their dreams, to say 'if this country kid could do it, let me keep slogging away'." - Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart changed the way computers worked, from specialized machinery that only a trained scientist could use, to a user-friendly tool that almost anyone can use. He invented or contributed to several interactive, user-friendly devices: the computer mouse, windows, computer video teleconferencing, hypermedia, groupware, email, the Internet and more.
In 1964, the first prototype computer mouse was made to use with a graphical user interface (GUI), 'windows'. Engelbart received a patent for the wooden shell with two metal wheels (computer mouse U.S. Patent # 3,541,541) in 1970, describing it in the patent application as an "X-Y position indicator for a display system." "It was nicknamed the mouse because the tail came out the end," Engelbart revealed about his invention. His version of windows was not considered patentable (no software patents were issued at that time), but Douglas Engelbart has over 45 other patents to his name.
Throughout the '60s and '70s, while working at his own lab (Augmentation Research Center, Stanford Research Institute), Engelbart dedicated himself to creating a hypermedia groupware system called NLS (for oNLine System). Most of his accomplishments, including the computer mouse and windows, were part of NLS.
In 1968, a 90-minute, staged public demonstration of a networked computer system was held at the Augmentation Research Center -- the first public appearance of the mouse, windows, hypermedia with object linking and addressing, and video teleconferencing.
Douglas Engelbart was awarded the 1997 Lemelson-MIT Prize of $500,000, the world's largest single prize for invention and innovation. In 1998, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Currently, Douglas Engelbart is the director of his company, Bootstrap Institute in Fremont, California, which promotes the concept of Collective IQ. Ironically, Bootstrap is housed rent free courtesy of the Logitech Corp., a famous manufacturer of computer mice.