Douglas C. Engelbart, inventor of the computer mouse, dies at 88

July 3, 2013

Douglas C. Engelbart with an early prototype of the computer mouse in 1968 (credit: SRI International)

Douglas C. Engelbart, a visionary scientist whose singular epiphany in 1950 about technology’s potential to expand human intelligence led to a host of inventions — among them the computer mouse — that became the basis for both the Internet and the modern personal computer, died on Tuesday at his home in Atherton, Calif., The New York Times reports. He was 88….

In a single stroke he had what might be called a complete vision of the information age. He saw himself sitting in front of a large computer screen full of different symbols… [that ] would serve as a display for a workstation that would organize all the information and communications for a given project. …

In December 1968, … he set the computing world on fire with a remarkable demonstration before more than a thousand of the world’s leading computer scientists at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco….

He showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he had invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing. […]

A prototype of Douglas Engelbart’s mouse (credit: SRI International)