Farewell to the inventor of the mouse

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Long before touchscreen technology emerged on the scene, operating a PC was made easier and more comfortable by using a mouse. This could not have been possible without Douglas Engelbart, the American technologist who invented the computer mouse, held the first video conference, and laid out the foundation of the internet’s architecture.

In 1968, Engelbart presented an hour-long presentation containing ideas that would later have important implications in the field of computers and information technology (IT). Decades later, this presentation would be called the “mother of all demos.”

Addressing 1,000 technologists in the city of San Francisco, Stanford Research Institute (SRI) computer scientist Engelbart presented a device with two revolving discs dubbed an “X-Y position indicator for a display system.” That was the world’s first mouse.

Engelbart then contacted a colleague 30 miles away, and to the astonishment of onlookers, launched live video and audio. That was the world’s first video conference.

He also described a way that informational pages can be connected utilising text-based links, a concept that would later become the foundation of the world wide web.

He did not seek nor enjoy the wealth that came with technological success like other Silicon Valley big shots. Moreover, Engelbart got no royalties for the mouse, which was patented by SRI.

Instead, he was encouraged by his belief that computers can be utilised to boost human intellect. In his papers, he described a vision wherein groups of workers could simultaneously manipulate data shared on PCs.

On Tuesday, Engelbart died at the age of 88 from kidney failure, but his legacy will live on.


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