The death of the mouse

The world is a crazy place right now. The pandemic has caused havoc, the UK is in recession and we are sad to announce the death of the mouse. Let us pause for a moment give thanks to an inventor that has made our lives easier. Computer pioneer William English has died aged 91, as reported by the BBC. Mr English, who was born in 1929 in Kentucky, studied electrical engineering at university before embarking on a career in the US Navy.

The engineer, inventor and researcher co-created the first modern computer mouse in 1963. After his colleague Doug Engelbart, a fellow engineer at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) came up with the idea.

The death of the mouse

William English, using the mouse prototype. Credit: SRI International

Working under Engelbart in the mid 1960s, William English, known to most as Bill, became the first person to use a mouse when he built the prototype at SRI.

In the 1950s, after leaving his career in the US Navy, Mr English joined SRI to work with Mr Engelbart who wanted to build a computer that anyone could use – a concept that would be the founding bricks for modern day PCs, laptops and tablets.

At the time computers were only used by specialists who would enter and retrieve information through punched cards, typewriters and printouts.

The birth of the mouse

Bill English built his first mouse prototype in the early 1960s. Credit: SRI International

The mouse, which got its name because of the way the cursor called CAT at the time seemed to chase the mouse movement, was a simple pinewood block with a single button and connector. Underneath the mouse were two rolling wheels at 90-degree angles that would record vertical and sideways movement on the computer.

Mr Engelbart, who died in 2013, aged 88, envisioned a device that could move a cursor across a computer screen and perform tasks by selecting symbols and pictures, Mr English helped his vision become a reality.

English and Engelbart demonstrated their first mouse and experimental multifaceted computer called oNLine System (NLS), in 1968 at an event in San Francisco that became known as ‘The Mother of All Demos’.

The Mother of All Demos unveiled early forms of online text editing, video conferencing and hypertext, the links now commonly used to navigate web pages on the internet.

Support for today’s technology and the future

What would our office look like today without pioneers like William? His invention is still going strong today and has come a long way since its original form. We may mourn the death of the mouse; however, technology is constantly moving forward. Thanks to William English’s efforts, much of the technology we use today exists.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our team. We can advise you about the latest computer systems and upgrades for your office. Don’t spend hours trawling the Internet for the best deal. Speak to us and let us take the pain away. This saves you time and money. We can set up your system and offer you a monthly IT contract. As well as cloud back-up systems, the latest security and telecoms.

All your technology requirements, all under one roof.

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