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December 8, 2008

Ever Wonder About the Naming Origins of the Computer Mouse?

first_mouse_3.gifThis Tuesday the computer mouse turns 40 years old.

It was first introduced on December 9, 1968 at a public demonstration of interactive computing by Douglas Engelbart of California. As most of you have guessed, it got its name because, well, the wire made it look like a mouse with a tail (the first one was wooden, if you can believe it).

The name had actually appeared a few years before at Stanford and its first printed use was in a 1965 publication: Bill English's Computer-Aided Display Control, while "mouse pad" had to wait almost another twenty years (1983) to emerge.

By the way, it is correct to use the term "mouses" when speaking about the plural version of the word "computer mouse," although the word "mice" is also acceptable and seems to be used far more often.

Therefore, the following sentence is, in fact, correct: "One billion mice is a lot of mouses." I must note, however, that my spellchecker still does not accept this word.

Engelbart did not make any money from the invention, but Logictech did. They designed their first mouse in a farmhouse in Apples, Switzerland and claim, as of this week, to have sold more than a billion of them since 1985.

The Xerox Star workstation is what actually brought mouses to the masses, but it was the Macintosh in 1984 that really made the devices popular.

Apple paid $40,000 for the mouse license just a short time after Engelbart's patent expired on the product.

I wonder if Engelbart would not have been better served holding on to the name and leasing it to all.

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Posted by William Lozito at December 8, 2008 12:01 PM
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