In December 1968 at a computer network presentation in San Francisco, Doug Engelbart from the Stanford research Institute unveiled his prototype input device.
Made of wood with wheels from a toy car the device was nicknamed by one of Engelbart’s researchers as the ‘mouse’ a name that stuck for over forty years.
It did take another fifteen years for Engelbart’s device to take-off but the computer mouse is now one of the most iconic and easily recognisable symbols of the twentieth century. Unfortunately for Engelbart though, his patent expired over twenty years ago and despite being honoured by president Bill Clinton the scientist hasn’t made a penny from hus invention.
However, despite the continued rise of the desktop computer it looks as if the end of the computer mouse may be in sight.
Touchscreens are fast becoming the new input device for computers. Already a mainstay of industrial computers, touch screens do away with the need for a separate input and output device. However, it has been in recent years that the use of touch screens has really accelerated with the implementation of the technology in mobile phones.
Now, Microsoft, suppliers of the Windows operating system have announced their next generation of operating system Windows 7, is designed solely for touch screen. And some experts predict the computer mouse will become obsolete over the next ten years.
Touchscreens however, are not new technology. The first touch screen was developed at the same time as Engelbart’s mouse but the technology has taken a lot longer to advance.
Industrial touch screens are extremely common but it has only been the last few years since the technology has been capable enough to be used in all types of devices from mobile phones to calculators.