Tag Archives: Douglas Englebart

Everyone’s Favorite Rodent

You fondle it. You move it about. You click it. You might even smear your boogers on it.

It’s the lowly computer mouse. Something you’ve rarely, if ever, given any serious thought to. You should have, though. It has an interesting story behind it. Did you ever wonder where the computer mouse came from? I mean… who would have thought of such a whacked out thing? Bill Gates? Nah. Linus Torvalds? Nah… actually, the computer mouse was invented six years before Linus was born. Got your curiosity up yet?

Earlier this evening, I was sitting here munching on a bowl of Crispy Hexagons. It’s a generic knockoff of Kellogg’s® Crispix® cereal sold by a local grocery chain here in my area. Anyway, on the back of the box was a series of brief articles about inventions. One of them was the computer mouse. I read it and thought, “WOW! I didn’t know that.” So I did a little online research and decided to post an article here about what I learned. Amazing where you can find inspiration for blog articles, huh?

It seems that back in 1963 an engineer named Douglas Englebart working for the Standford Research Institute was piddling around in the lab one day and cobbled together a device that could convert physical motion (on a desktop, for instance) into input data for other uses. Englebart called the device a mouse because the connecting wire reminded him of a mouse’s tail. The invention was just a part of Engelbart’s much larger project, aimed at augmenting human intellect.

John C. Dvorak, a well known columnist for PC Magazine and other periodicals and websites, once said, “There is no evidence that people want to use these things.” HA! Hope you didn’t have any money on that horse, John. Sadly, Englebart’s patent ran out before the mouse came into popular usage with modern personal computers. He never made a penny off of his invention. The good ol’ computer mouse… where would we be without it?

Mice are like shoes, too. Everyone has their own favorite. I prefer trackballs. I started using one (a Logitech Trakman) about six or seven years ago and just never turned back. I used to be into gaming (1st person shooters) back then and found that I could play much faster and more accurately with the trackball rather than the standard mouse. It requires a lot less desktop real estate, since you don’t have to move the actual mouse to navigate.

What’s your favorite?

Until next time, folks…

Happy Tails… er, I mean Trails.

~Eric