Years before personal computers and desktop information processing became commonplace or even practicable, Douglas Engelbart had invented a number of interactive, user-friendly information access systems that we take for granted today: the computer mouse, windows, shared-screen teleconferencing, hypermedia, GroupWare, and more. At the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco in 1968, Engelbart astonished his colleagues by demonstrating the aforementioned systems---using an utterly primitive 192 kilobyte mainframe computer located 25 miles away! Engelbart has earned nearly two dozen patents, the most memorable being perhaps for his "X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System": the prototype of the computer "mouse" whose convenience has revolutionized personal computing.
Mouse (computer), a common pointing device, popularized by its inclusion as standard equipment with the Apple Macintosh. With the rise in popularity of graphical user interfaces (Graphical User Interface) in MS-DOS; UNIX, and OS/2, use of mice is growing throughout the personal computer and workstation worlds. The basic features of a mouse are a casing with a flat bottom, designed to be gripped by one hand; one or more buttons on the top; a multidirectional detection device (usually a ball) on the bottom; and a cable connecting the mouse to the computer. By moving the mouse on a surface (such as a desk), the user typically controls an on-screen cursor. A mouse is a relative pointing device because there are no defined limits to the mouse's movement and because its placement on a surface does not map directly to a specific screen location. To select items or choose commands on the screen, the user presses one of the mouse's buttons, producing a "mouse click."
Engelbart's inventions were ahead of their time, but have been integrated into mainstream computing as industry capabilities have increased. It was not until 1984 that the Apple Macintosh popularized the mouse; but today it is difficult to imagine a personal computer without one. And the huge success of Microsoft's Windows95 proves that Engelbart's original windows concept has also become a virtual necessity. In a talk delivered at MIT (June 1996), Bill Gates himself praised Engelbart for his pioneering work. Byte magazine, in an article honoring the 20 persons who have had the greatest impact on personal computing (September 1995), went so far as to say of Engelbart: "Comparisons with Thomas Edison do not seem farfetched.