What Did Douglas Engelbart Invent?

Douglas Engelbart was an American inventor who is most famous for his invention of the computer mouse. Additionally, his work and research as part of the Augmentation Research Center Lab in Menlo Park, Calif., helped develop hypertext, the concept of computer networking and the precursor to modern-day graphical user interfaces.

He invented the computer mouse during the early 1960s while he worked at the Stanford Research Institute, known in 2014 as SRI International. He created the first prototype in 1964, but he wasn’t awarded the patent until 1970. The idea came to him during a conference session on computer graphics, where he mulled the possibility of using a tool similar to a planimeter to determine the X and Y coordinates of the cursor on the computer screen. In 1962, he received a grant to launch a research initiative called “Augmenting Human Intellect,” which eventually resulted in the prototype that was shaped like a 4-inch long, 3-inch wide, 3-inch deep block of wood.

In 1965, the team led by Douglas Engelbart published a study that evaluated the efficiency of multiple techniques through which data on a computer display could be manipulated. The computer mouse proved to be the most efficient solution among instruments such as Grafacon and the knee-operated pointing device, which made it the focus of the research initiative.

His work regarding interactive computing and human-computer interfaces led to significant progress in the fields of knowledge management, client-server architecture and computer-supported software engineering, which paved the way for the coming of the Information Age and the Internet.