The Mouse and the Mother of All Demos


(T) I had the opportunity to attend many events at SRI International in Menlo Park about the inventions and contributions of Doug Engelbart. Yesterday, Mr. Engelbart peacefully left us. According to the SRI’s Web site, Mr. Engelbart started the development of the first computer mouse in the early 1960s “while he was exploring the interactions between humans and computers. A single wheel or a pair of wheels was used to translate the motion of the mouse into cursor movement on the screen. Engelbart was the inventor on the basic patent for what was then called the “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System.” SRI licensed the computer mouse technology to Apple, Xerox, and other companies. The mouse became commercially viable in 1984, three years before the patent’s expiration.

For Engelbart, the mouse was one part of a much larger technological system whose purpose was to facilitate organizational learning and global online collaboration. In early 1959, Engelbart pursued his visionary ideas by formulating a theoretical framework for the co-evolution of human skills, knowledge, and organizations. At the heart of his vision was the computer as an extension of human communication capabilities and a resource for the augmentation of human intellect.

With a group of young scientists on December 9, 1968, he staged a 90-minute public multimedia demonstration at the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. It was the world debut of personal and interactive computing, featuring a computer mouse that controlled a networked computer system to demonstrate hypertext linking, real-time text editing, multiple windows with flexible view control, cathode display tubes, and shared-screen teleconferencing. For its impact on computing and the world, the 1968 event has been dubbed: the mother of all demos.”

To learn more about Mr. Engelbart’s inventions and contributions:

Wikipedia’s articles:

Note: The picture above from SRI is the first computer mouse.

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Categories: Computer Systems