Computer Mouse History

x,y position indicator for a display system

In 1967, the patent was filed for the first mouse, calling it an “x,y position indicator for a display system.” The patent was awarded in 1970. Douglas Engelbart (January 30, 1925 – July 2, 2013) conceived the mouse while attending a conference on computer graphics, where he started thinking about how to improve interactive computing.

Patents (click on photos to enlarge)

He thought it would be easier to link the computer’s cursor to a device with two wheels—one horizontal and one vertical. Moving the device on a horizontal surface would allow the user to position the cursor on the screen. Bill English, his collaborator built a prototype—a hand-held device carved out of wood, with a button on the top.

One of the first computers designed to work with this new wooden mouse was the Xerox Alto, which went on sale in 1973. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich sold the Lilith computer from 1978 to 1980. This was soon followed by the Xerox 8010, which featured a mouse, ethernet networking and e-mail that have since become standard.

But the mouse got it’s real heyday in 1983 when Microsoft updated the MS-DOS program Microsoft Word to make it mouse-compatible and developed the first PC-compatible mouse. The first time the word “mouse” was associated with the device was in Bill English’s July 1965 publication, “Computer-Aided Display Control”.

More than two months before Engelbart’s demo, October 2, 1968, a mouse device named Rollkugelsteuerung (German for “rolling ball control”) was shown in a sales brochure by the German company Telefunken as an optional input device for the SIG 100 vector graphics terminal, part of the system around their process computer TR 86 and the TR 440 main frame.

In 1982, Logitech introduced the P4 Mouse at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, its first hardware mouse. Microsoft’s mouse shipped in 1983, thus beginning the Microsoft Hardware division of the company. The mouse would remain relatively obscure until the appearance of the Macintosh 128K in 1984, the Amiga 1000 and the Atari ST in 1985.



Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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