On this day November 17, 1970

Engelbart received patent US3541541 for an “X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System”.

The first computer mouse, held by inventor Douglas Engelbart, showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface

The first mouse, held by inventor Engelbart, showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface

At the time, Engelbart envisaged that users would hold the mouse continuously in one hand and type on a five-key chord keyset with the other.

Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute invented the mouse in 1963 after extensive usability testing. He never received any royalties for it, as his patent ran out before it became widely used in personal computers.

Eleven years earlier, the Royal Canadian Navy had invented the trackball using a Canadian five-pin bowling ball as a user interface for their DATAR system.

Several other experimental pointing-devices developed for Engelbart’s oN-Line System (NLS) exploited different body movements — for example, head-mounted devices attached to the chin or nose — but ultimately the mouse won out because of its simplicity and convenience. The first mouse, a bulky device (pictured) used two gear-wheels perpendicular to each other: the rotation of each wheel translated into motion along one axis.

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