If you have used a computer mouse, you can thank Doug Engelbart. I’d known that for many years.
I met him a few times as he wandered Logitech’s offices in California. He had an office there for a while. Mostly it was just a quick hello or nod in passing. He was a gracious, quiet, thoughtful man.
What I wasn’t aware of until recently was that he was very involved in the early development of graphical user interface and other aspects of computer experience that we now take for granted.
Engelbart gave a presentation on December 8, 1968 in San Francisco which you’ll find on Youtube by typing the words ‘The Mother of all Demos’. He would probably laugh wryly at that description. For him it was research toward “augmented human intellect. In it he gave the world’s first demonstration of the computer mouse — and by definition the humble cursor — along with too many computer interface features for me to list, or even name. It’s a fabulous demo. In many ways it should be as famous as the footage from ground control at the time of the moon landing less than a year later.
The computer, controlled by the mouse and cursor, changed human existence. Design Partners has designed numerous computer mice over the years for Logitech. The computer mouse is an amazing invention – though it may be almost completely displaced by touch pads, touch screens and other new interactions in time.
He passed away in the late hours of July 2nd at home in Atherton, California. He was 88 years old.
Thank you, Doug.
– Peter Sheehan is a consultant and former Design Director with Design Partners.
– A special Thank You to Christina Engelbart, The Doug Engelbart Institute and SRI International for the imagery.
– Please visit www.dougengelbart.org/ for further information about Douglas Engelbart.