The world saw the first computer mouse 50 years ago – long before the first personal computers came onto the market. “XY Position Indicator for a Display System” is what computer pioneer Douglas C. Engelbart called his invention, which he presented for the first time on December 9, 1968 at a conference in San Francisco. One participant reportedly said that the small device was “the next big thing after LSD”. Outside of the specialist audience present, the small device initially met with little enthusiasm.
The first copy bore little resemblance to the computer mice commonly used today. The prototype consisted of a chunky wooden box with a red button to click and a wheel that mapped to the device’s movements on the screen. Incidentally, the term “mouse” comes from the inventor Engelbart himself, because the cable on the wooden box reminded him of a mouse’s tail.
Engelbart later worked as a consultant for Sun Microsystems. The mouse inventor is now considered one of the great pioneers of the information age. He died in 2013 at the age of 88.