American inventor Doug Engelbart passed away last night at the age of 88 from kidney failure, and while he’ll be known as many things – husband, father, grandfather and the creator of hypertext – he’ll forever be known as the man who invented the original computer mouse.
In a 2004 interview with Wired, Engelbart offered some insight into his technological legacy that he first started developing more than five decades ago.
I first started making notes for the mouse in ’61. At the time, the popular device for pointing on the screen was a light pen, which had come out of the radar program during the war. It was the standard way to navigate, but I didn’t think it was quite right…We set up our experiments and the mouse won in every category, even though it had never been used before. It was faster, and with it people made fewer mistakes. Five or six of us were involved in these tests, but no one can remember who started calling it a mouse. I’m surprised the name stuck. (Via Wired, H/T to Tech Crunch)
Engelbart patented his mouse in 1970, but it didn’t become an everyday computer accessory until 1984, when it was included with the Apple Macintosh. However, according to Fox News, Engelbart’s patent expired just three years later, after which the patent became public domain and he never made much money at all from the mouse.
Regardless, between the mouse and his many other accomplishments, Engelbart is remembered fondly in his industry as a man who saw the future of today’s computers and networking long before anyone else.