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Today in Media History: In 1968, the computer mouse was introduced at the ‘mother of all demos’

Are you using a computer mouse right now?

Douglas Engelbart introduced it to the world (not that the world knew what to do with it) at the “mother of all demos” on December 9, 1968.

His presentation is primarily remembered for the mouse, but Engelbart and his team also demonstrated early hypertext, word processing, and other technological tools we take for granted today.

Here is some background about Engelbart and the demo:

“From the halls of a university research lab to the desks of hundreds of millions of computer users, the computer mouse has come a long way. Douglas Engelbart created the first prototypes of the now-familiar device in 1963 at Stanford Research Institute, but he first displayed his creation to the public in 1968 forty years ago Tuesday. During that unveiling, Engelbart presented what some have called ‘the mother of all demos,’ outlining concepts that would presage the next 40 years of computing, including the use of a three-button palm-sized contraption called a ‘mouse.’

Since then, a handful of companies (namely Xerox, Apple, Microsoft, and Logitech) have poured millions into refining the form and function of the mouse: they’ve changed its number of buttons, changed the interfaces by which mice connect to computers, and tinkered with new methods of tracking movement. But despite four decades of commercial evolution, computer users today handle the mouse in much the same way Engelbart did 40 years ago: as an ingeniously efficient and easy-to-use pointing device.”

— “The computer mouse turns 40
Macworld, December 9, 2008

SRI International has posted these highlights from the 1968 demo:

“Douglas C. Engelbart, a computer science visionary who was credited with inventing the mouse, the now-ubiquitous device that first allowed consumers to navigate virtual desktops with clicks and taps, died July 2 at his home in Atherton, Calif. He was 88.

….At a time when computers were the size of Buicks and ran on punch cards, Dr. Engelbart led a team of researchers who conceived seminal ideas that helped build the modern computer industry and allowed the machines to become a staple of work and home life.

‘With his help, the computer has become a friendly servant rather than a stern taskmaster,’ the noted economist Lester Thurow told the Associated Press in 1997.

In addition to the mouse, Dr. Engelbart and his colleagues developed the concept of the digital workspaces now called windows, hypertext to conjoin digital files, and shared-screen teleconferencing.

Dr. Engelbart carried out much of his work in Menlo Park, Calif., working from 1957 to 1977 at the Stanford Research Institute (now called SRI International). He was regarded as an eminence in his profession who inspired generations of computer scientists, but he did not have the household name recognition of other early personal-technology innovators, such as Steve Jobs, whose company made the mouse a commercial success.”

— “Douglas Engelbart, computer visionary and inventor of the mouse, dies at 88
Washington Post, July 3, 2013

Read more

from Poynter. http://ift.tt/1BvWZvz

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