On this date in 1981, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) introduced its computer mouse. It’s hard to imagine a time when we operated a computer without a mouse, a time when we didn’t point and click, or a time when we needed a good mouser more than we needed an operational mouse.
The invention of the mouse is credited to Douglas Engelbart, who created what he called an “X-Y position indicator for a display system” in 1964. His invention, a wooden shell with two metal wheels, was patented in 1970. In 1970, however, there were no personal computers; it would be ten more years before someone stepped up to take the mouse to the big time.
The decade of the personal computer had arrived in 1980, and Steve Jobs , co-founder of Apple Computer, challenged Xerox’s (PARC) to create a mouse that was durable, useful, and inexpensive. They succeeded. Where Engelbart had used metal wheels, they used a plastic ball. Their mouse was ready for demonstration in 1981, and in January 1983 the Apple Lisa was introduced, the first commercial personal computer with a mouse. At a price of almost $10,000, the Lisa was not a commercial success, but Apple rebounded one year later with the Macintosh 128K. Like the Lisa, the Macintosh had a single-button mouse. The Macintosh revolutionized personal computing with its Graphic User Interface (GUI), the predominant method we use today of interacting with a computer using windows and icons. Imagine trying to do this without a mouse!
With the popularity of Microsoft Windows in the 1990s, the mouse became what it is today: ubiquitous (1).
Today’s Challenge: Build a Better Abecedarian
When you hear the word “ computer technology” what are some words that come to mind? Brainstorm as many words as you can that you associate with “computer technology,” such as antivirus, bandwidth, and cloud. Attempt to create an A to Z list of words that are related to computer technology. Include a short definition next to each word. (Common Core Writing Language 3 – Knowledge of Language)
Quotation of the Day: The computer is by all odds the most extraordinary of all the technological clothing ever devised by man, since it is the extension of our central nervous system. Beside it, the wheel is a mere hula-hoop. -Marshall McLuhan
1 -Soojung, Alex and Kim Pang. Mighty Mouse. Stanford Magazine March/April 2002.