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William English (1929–2020), engineer who built the first computer mouse

by Linnea Crowther

William English was a computer engineer who built the first computer mouse.

Creating new technologies

English worked alongside Douglas Engelbart (1925 – 2013), the inventor of the computer mouse, to bring Engelbart’s visionary ideas to life. It was English’s design and construction that made Engelbart’s concept into a reality, one that allowed computer users to control their machines without keyboards or punch cards for the first time. English’s first mouse looked unwieldy compared to today’s devices, built in a pinewood case and moving on two wheels, but it would revolutionize computing. Engelbart and English unveiled their creation in 1968 at a San Francisco computer event later dubbed “The Mother of All Demos.” In later years, English joined the Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, a site of much technological innovation, and then worked for Sun Microsystems.

What people said about him

Full obituary: The New York Times


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