Happy 39th birthday, digital rodent

The patent for the computer mouseDouglas Engelbart‘s patent for what we know as the computer mouse was issued Nov. 17, 1970, which isn’t exactly a “birthday,” since the actual invention was about seven years earlier, and the device had made its public debut during the “mother of all demos” Dec. 9, 1968, which would make it 41 years old next month.

In some circles, however, there is a tradition of remaining “39” as long as possible.

The original, which Engelbart created at Stanford Research Institute, was a fist-sized wooden box holding two perpendicular wheels, and called an “X-Y Position Indicator.” Xerox PARC replaced the wheels with a trackball later, and Apple’s Macintosh picked up the ball from there.


mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in Computers, History, Internet, Technology

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