The pride lies in its history

The mouse, more than 50 years old, had three buttons and two metal discs on the bottom used for pointer control (Image: RRAuction)

The mouse, more than 50 years old, had three buttons and two metal discs on the bottom used for pointer control (Image: RRAuction)

Mouse is now considered by many to be an essential tool for anyone working on a PC or playing games. We have Douglas Engelbart to thank for the fact that it exists. In 1968 he invented the somewhat awkwardly named “XY position indicator for a screen system” – the first prototype of a mouse. Not many of these were made, making them extremely rare. One just fetched a record price at an auction recently.

180,000 euros for one of the oldest mice in the world

Douglas Carl Engelbart was a pioneer in the field of computer interaction and is credited with inventing the computer mouse. He first got involved with computers in the early 1950s, when they were massive mainframes that used punch cards. Engelbart had worked as a radar technician during the war and had therefore been involved with screens for some time, but even then he wanted a device that was easier to use than a keyboard. His idea for his invention was initially rejected by many. Hewlett Packard, now known as HP, even said “Sorry, no, no chance.”

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Like HP, many other tech giants and pundits have been wrong in the past. You can read about the major mistakes in IT history here:

In 1957, Engelbart got a job at the Stanford Research Institute and, together with engineer William English, developed various devices for controlling screen elements, including the first mouse. Another device that the two developed was even controlled with the knee. This has (fortunately) not prevailed, since the device had to be set individually for each person.

On December 9, 1968, Engelbart presented his invention to the public for the first time at a computer conference in San Francisco. He sat at a monitor with a keyboard and in his right hand held a wooden box with a cable at one end – the prototype of the computer mouse. The technology was obviously still in its infancy, but Engelbart’s invention was groundbreaking for the way we use computers today. The mouse had three buttons and two metal discs that controlled the X and Y axes.

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Exactly such a prototype together with a coding keyset has a price of 178.936 US-Dollar obtained at an auction. The two devices were auctioned off as part of the Mother of All Demons auction and were in condition that indicates they were actually used.

Douglas Carl Engelbart is considered the founding father of today's computer mouse.  (Image: Deutschlandfunk)

Douglas Carl Engelbart is considered the founding father of today’s computer mouse. (Image: Deutschlandfunk)

The technology was still in its infancy at the time, but the mouse’s intuitive concept of picking up something and moving it to create movement on the monitor was groundbreaking. On November 17, 1970, Engelbart received a patent for his computer mouse, which was then still called an “XY position indicator for a screen system”. His invention revolutionized the way we use computers and laid the foundation for many more developments in computer interaction. Engelbart died on July 2, 2013 at the age of 88.

Many still think that the mouse was invented by Steve Jobs. The truth is that Jobs made the mouse popular and marketable by licensing it and using it with the Lisa and Macintosh computers. If you would like to learn more about the history of the IT world, then let us know in the comments!

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