DOUG Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse, has died aged 88 of acute kidney failure after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Pioneer ... posing with the first version of the mouse
The computer genius developed his famous devise in the 1960s using wood with metal wheels as an "X-Y pointer".
Curtis R. Carlson, the CEO of SRI International where Engelbart used to work said: “We will miss his genius, warmth and charm.”
He added: “Doug’s legacy is immense. Anyone in the world who uses a mouse or enjoys the productive benefits of a personal computer is indebted to him.”
Years ahead of his time, Engelbart also worked on early versions of word processing, email and the internet.
As a young US professor, academic bosses had warned him about his “wild ideas” — and operating a computer with a tool on the outside was unheard of at the time.
Despite more than a billion of his inventions being sold, he never made much money from the mouse because the patent ran out in 1987 – before it became widely used.
Marc Weber, founder and curator at the Computer History Museum where Engelbart had been a fellow since 2005, said: “There are only a handful of people who were as influential.”
He added: “He had a complete vision of what computers could become at a very early stage.”
Long before Apple founder Steve Jobs became famous for his dramatic presentations, Engelbart dazzled the industry at a San Francisco computer conference in 1968.
Working from his house with a homemade modem, he used his lab’s elaborate new online system to illustrate his ideas to the audience.
It was the first public demonstration of the mouse and video teleconferencing and it prompted a standing ovation.
In 1950, when mainframe computers took up entire rooms and were fed data on punch cards, Engelbart was already envisioning a day when computers were more intuitive to use.
The mouse didn’t become commercially available until 1984, with the release of Apple’s then revolutionary Macintosh computer.