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Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the mouse, dies aged 88


July 4, 2013

Douglass Engelbart gives his revolutionary presentation in 1968 that saw the first public demonstration of the mouse (Image: SRI International)

Douglass Engelbart gives his revolutionary presentation in 1968 that saw the first public demonstration of the mouse (Image: SRI International)

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Douglas Engelbart, the man who made point and click possible with his invention of the mouse, has died aged 88. When he first demonstrated his invention to a computer conference in San Francisco, California in 1968, it was basically a wooden shell with two metal wheels for registering movement along the X- and Y-axes. Ahead of its time, the mouse wasn’t popularized until the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984.

Although the “X-Y position indicator for a display system” Engelbart developed with Bill English was awarded a patent in 1970, they never received any royalties for the device. This was because his employer at the time, SRI International, held the patent, which expired in 1987 before the device became ubiquitous.

Although the most well known, the mouse wasn’t Engelbart’s only contribution to the world of computing. He and his lab also contributed to the development of hypertext, ARPANet, and precursors to the graphical user interface. In "the mother of all demos" that saw the introduction of the mouse, Engelbart also gave the first public demonstration of onscreen windows and video teleconferencing, making his presentation from home using a homemade modem.

Engelbart died of kidney failure at his home in Atherton, California on Tuesday aged 88. He is survived by his second wife, Karen, four children from his first marriage and nine grandchildren.

It's perhaps fitting that this story will be posted with the click of a button on the very device with which he helped revolutionize the world of computing.

Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

To only give him credit for the mouse is a short sale. The media is only barely covering what he demonstrated and effectively invented. Watch the Mother of All Demos video and you'll see he invented hyperlinking in a wikipedia-like manner. Almost everything he pioneered in that demo came to be much later. It's hard to believe he didn't have a time machine.


At least he got recognized for something. So many primary inventors get shoveled under the mat and never properly recognized. Certainly, Doug is a hero!


IMO; the computing world lost a great innovator.

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