Doug Engelbart
{ "" }
Share Doug's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Doug Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse and developer of early incarnations of email, word processing programs and the Internet, has died at the age of 88.

The Computer History Museum, where Engelbart had been a fellow since 2005, said he died early Wednesday. The museum in Mountain View, Calif., was notified of the death in an email from his daughter, Christina. The cause of death wasn't immediately known.

Back in the 1950s and '60s, when mainframes took up entire rooms and were fed data on punch cards, Engelbart already was envisioning a world in which people used computers to share ideas about solving problems.

He said his work was all about "augmenting human intellect," but it boiled down to making computers user-friendly. One of the biggest advances was the mouse, which he developed in the 1960s and patented in 1970. At the time, it was a wooden shell covering two metal wheels: an "X-Y position indicator for a display system."

The notion of operating the inside of a computer with a tool on the outside was way ahead of its time. The mouse wasn't commercially available until 1984, with Apple's new Macintosh.

In fact, Engelbart's invention was so early that he and his colleagues didn't profit much from it. The mouse patent had a 17-year life span, and in 1987 the technology fell into the public domain - meaning Engelbart couldn't collect royalties on the mouse when it was in its widest use. At least 1 billion have been sold since the mid-1980s.

Among Engelbart's other key developments in computing, along with his colleagues at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and his own lab, the Augmentation Research Center, was the use of multiple windows. Engelbart's lab also helped develop ARPANet, the government research network that led to the Internet.

Engelbart dazzled the industry at a San Francisco computer conference in 1968. Working from his house with a home made modem, he used his lab's elaborate new online system to illustrate his ideas to the audience, while his staff linked in from the lab. It was the first public demonstration of the mouse and video teleconferencing, and it prompted a standing ovation.

"Doug pioneered network computing technologies when it was not popular to do so," Sun Microsystems' then-CEO, Scott McNealy, said in 1997.

Even so, the mild-mannered Engelbart gave deference to his colleagues and played down the importance of his inventions, stressing instead his bigger vision of using collaboration over computers to solve the world's problems.

"Many of those firsts came right out of the staff's innovations - even had to be explained to me before I could understand them," he said in a biography written by his daughter. "They deserve more recognition."

In 1997, Englebart won the most lucrative award for American inventors, the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize. Three years later, President Bil l Clinton bestowed Engelbart with the National Medal of Technology "for creating the foundations of personal computing."

Douglas Carl Engelbart was born Jan. 30, 1925, and grew up on a small farm near Portland, Ore. He studied electrical engineering at Oregon State University, taking two years off during World War II to serve as a Navy electronics and radar technician in the Philippines.

It was there that he read Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" in a Red Cross library and was inspired by Bush's idea of a machine that would aid human cognition.

After the war, Engelbart worked as an electrical engineer for NASA's predecessor, NACA, at its Ames Laboratory. Restless, and dreaming of computers that could change the world, Engelbart left Ames to pursue his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley.

He earned his degree in 1955. But after joining the faculty, Engelbart was warned by a colleague that if he kept talking about his "wild ideas" he'd be an acti ng assistant professor forever. So he left for the research position at Stanford Research Institute, now SRI International.

In 1990, Engelbart started the Bootstrap Institute, which researches ways to advance collaboration on complex problems.

MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Published in New York Times on Jul. 3, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
46 entries
November 8, 2016
Valenda Newell
July 8, 2016
Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us. Godspeed.

Fair winds and following seas sailor.

Thank you for your service to this nation.
Harry Simpson
November 15, 2013
Doug inspired my dissertation 2003 Birthday!
Doug was an amazing genius, whose ideas helped humanity. We wouldn't be here without Doug, an unsung hero who graced the world and gave us such huge gifts. Others took his ideas and ran with them, but he was the genius who had the vision initially, when he wanted to help humanity to think better in the early 1950s. Most of the world doesn't even know who he was, which is a shame. I got to meet Doug in 2002, and he changed my life. Doug had some really cool ideas that have yet to be developed. My thoughts go out to his family and friends. I just found out about it, have been way out of touch
Karey Pohn
July 17, 2013
I am sorry for the loss of Doug Engelbart. May the family find comfort in the words found at Jeremiah 29:11.
July 10, 2013
alverta cheeks
July 8, 2013
happy are those who mourn,since they will be comforted."matt.5:4.....dee
July 8, 2013
To the family of DOUG ENGELBART I send my heartfelt condolences for your lost. Mr Engelbart invention was the beginning of changing world communication. May you find comfort at this difficult time in the GOD of comfort. ISAIAH 61,1,2.

Ms Carruth
July 6, 2013
My deepest condolences to the family of Doug Engelbart.
July 6, 2013
My son just graduated from high school and wrote his senior project on Augmented Reality. Mr. Engelbart was one of his references for this paper.
Augmented Reality and computer science is what he plans to pursue in college and as a career.
For myself (a computer dinosaur), I so appreciate the mouse invention as I write this message and thanking Mr. Engelbart for his amazing contribution to technology.
May God bless you, his family, and hold you close to each other.
the Klus family
Klus family
July 6, 2013
May the eternal light shine upon him....
James Willner
July 6, 2013
My deepest sympathies. May the "God of all comfort," help to ease the pain of your grief during this time.(1 Cor 1:3,4)
July 5, 2013
May you RIP.................
Mary Meredith
July 5, 2013
Sorry for the loss of Doug Engelbart who contributed much to modern technology. May the family find comfort knowing that they can look forward to seeing Doug in Paradise with everlasting life in view.
July 5, 2013
My condolences to the family. May God heal your hearts with comforting words. Psalms 1
July 5, 2013
To the entire Engelbart family. Please accept my condolences. May the God who gives peace be with you all in this time of sorrow. Rom. 15:33.
G. Jones
July 5, 2013
Long live the mouse!..Mr Engelbart you will be missed dearly.....
Davey Mayo
July 5, 2013
Soon in Paradise our talents will not die but flourish forever.
July 5, 2013
My condolences to the family. May you find comfort and peace from the God of all comfort who is a refuge and strength for us during our distresses. E.D; Park Forest, IL.
July 5, 2013
a friend
July 4, 2013
Atari Memorex Toshiba Gateway Intel@V`Valdez
Victoria V
July 4, 2013
So sorry to hear of Doug's death. My condolences to his family. Doug was an
usher at my wedding 63 yrs. ago. I have many other fond memories of him also.
Nora Blalock
July 4, 2013
The Mouse, is a great invention and I would like to propose an IEEE Milestone for this invention.

Dick Ahrons
IEEE Milestone Coordinator, Santa Clara Valley Section
Dick Ahrons
July 4, 2013
My condolences to The Engelbart Family. May the "Peace of God"(Phillipians 4:6,7) be with you as you cope with such a loss. Please find comfort in the fine memories you have of Doug and may it help to ease your pain. Draw close to God and he will draw close to you
July 4, 2013
70sSiliconvalley and the mouse of extrawear
simple style of the mouse also known as
sofware assembly computer
In color cable hardware model.
For years our mouse has brought its charm thruought the smart brisk computer use#

Our Condolences to Doug and His Family`
thank you for the mouse sofware...
Victoria&Andrew VZj
July 4, 2013
His medium was the message - the augmentation of human intelligence. Now he has an eternity for us to catch up.
Marc Laventurier
July 4, 2013
A brilliant man has left the world, but he has left an indelible mark on the today's modern world. Ecclesiastes 7:1 reminds us that a good name is a precious legacy to leave behind. Thoughts of sympathy go out to Mr. Englebart's family.
Abby D.
July 4, 2013
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
b davis
July 4, 2013
My sincere thank you Sir for your inventions. Such a life is to be celebrated.
Condolences to the family
Francesca Fairfield
July 4, 2013
Thank you for your genius ~ God bless you and your loved ones.
July 4, 2013
May you find comfort in the happy memories of your loved one until you are reunited.
July 4, 2013
We'll miss you !
Adrian Barnette
July 4, 2013
I am sorry for your loss. Losing a love. One is difficult. I hope all may find comfort from God during this difficult time.
July 4, 2013
God Bless....My father worked on one for the first computer key punch types. He was fasenated by the newer ones. Thanks for making new things happen
July 4, 2013
Thank you Douglas Engelbart. Thanks to you i have my business and i got my passion for internet. Thank you very much and RIP.
Bjorn Doe
July 3, 2013
Thank you Mr. Engelbart for creating the computer mouse. My arthritic hands are in awe of your work, making it easier to navigate a PC. Many, many prayers and blessing to your family, friends and colleagues during this time. Rest in Peace.
July 3, 2013
Our condolences. The world has lost a pioneer.
July 3, 2013
in God's care rest in peace
Dwayne Bickham
July 3, 2013
One of my sons worked with this kind and intelligent man. Douglas Engelbart paved the way for modern technology. My sincerest condolences to his family.
Deanna Neuberg
July 3, 2013
michelle plakas-kaiser
July 3, 2013
Thank you Douglas for all of your contributions! You will be missed.
Bob Douglas
July 3, 2013
Rest in Peace
Scott Chamberland
July 3, 2013
I worked with Doug while the Employment Manager at SRI. I always considered Doug terffic person and esteened scientist. A one of a kind gem. Doug will always be remembered as one of SRI's top contributors.
jim mcdonald
July 3, 2013
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your family and friend. THe bible can be of some comfort at John 3:16
July 3, 2013
Condolences to the family of a great man.
July 3, 2013
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your family and friend. THe bible can be of some comfort at John 3:16
July 3, 2013
Family Please accept my condolence for your loss. May you find comfort in knowing God cares about you.[1Peter 5:6,7]
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences