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The Computer Mouse Co-Inventor, William English, Dies at 91

08/12/2020

On July 26th, engineer William English passed away at the age of 91. He leaves behind a legacy in the computer technology field for his achievements alongside his partner, Douglas Engelbart, for creating the first computer mouse that revolutionized workstations that we all know and use today. According to this article, William and Douglas began their partnership in the late 1950s at the Stanford Research Institute. Douglas initially came up with the idea of a device that could move a cursor across a computer, but William oversaw the design and the creation of what was later called “the mouse.”

 

It’s not exactly clear how the mouse name has originated; however, some experts believe it referenced the cursor, which was at the time was called “cat,” that would chase the motions of the device. Others have said the name came from its physical appearance resembling a mouse tail attached to the device. The first version of the mouse was introduced at a 1968 convention with a wooden block that had wheels on the bottom. This convention was later known as “The Mother of All Demos” since there were multiple new demonstrations with significant impacts on the technological world such as the computer window, video call, and precursor to the hyperlink. A few years later, William English left Stanford to work at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center and polished the mouse design for personal use for both Microsoft and Apple.



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