The technology world lost a true pioneer in Doug Engelbart. The Portland, Oregon born inventor created the mouse in the 1960s. While the mouse is his best known work, Engelbart also had a hand in early versions of word processing, video conferencing, and email. The 88-year old Engelbart’s death was delivered via email to California’s Computer History Museum by his daughter Christina. She stated that Engelbart had been poor health lately, but died peacefully in his sleep last night.
At an early age, Engelbart was around technology. Born January 30, 1925, his father was a radio repairman and his mother a housewife. He went on to study electrical engineering at Oregon State University and was a radar tech during the Second World War. From there Engelbart worked at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics—pre-NASA–in an electrical engineer role, but left to gain a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley.
His journey through the world of technology led him to the Standford Research Institute and later his own lab, the Augmentation Research Center. It was his ARC that assisted in the development of ARPANet, the government network that eventually led to the internet.
During his legendary 1968 San Francisco presentation, Doug Engelbart gave a demonstration of his mouse, the first video teleconference, and went on to explain text-based links. Engelbart’s patent on the mouse ran out in 1987 and the Standford Research Institute gave the technology to Apple in 1983 for $40,000.
Money didn’t drive Engelbart’s efforts, discovery and creation did. He believed that computers could work in tandem with human intelligence and that a device that could make human life better could be improved upon. In 1997 he was awarded the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize and three years later the National Medal of Technology for creating the foundations of personal computing. Doug Engelbart was a fellow at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California since 2005.
Doug Engelbart is survived by his wife, Karen O’Leary Engelbart and four children.