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Dr. Douglas C. Engelbart is best known for inventing the computer mouse (in a joint effort with Bill English); as a pioneer of Human Computer Interaction (whose team developed Hypertext, networked computers, and precursors to GUIs); and as a committed and vocal proponent of the development and use of computers and computer networks to help cope with the world's increasingly more urgent and complex problems.

Where others reasoned that the sophistication of a language controls the sophistication of the thoughts that can be expressed by a speaker of that language, Engelbart reasoned that the state of our current technology controls our ability to manipulate information, and that fact in turn will control our ability to develop new, improved technologies. He thus set himself to the revolutionary task of developing computer-based technologies for manipulating information directly, and also to improve individual and group processes for knowledge-work. Engelbart's philosophy and research agenda is most clearly and directly expressed in the 1962 research report which Engelbart refers to as his 'bible': Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework. The concept of network augmented intelligence is attributed to Engelbart based on this pioneering work.

He and his team at the Augmentation Research Center (the lab he founded) developed computer-interface elements such as bit-mapped screens, groupware, Hypertext and precursors to the graphical user interface. He conceived and developed many of his user interface ideas back in the mid-1960s, long before the personal computer revolution, at a time when most individuals were kept away from computers, and could only use computers through intermediaries, and when software tended to be written for vertical applications in proprietary systems.

In 1970 Engelbart received a patent for the wooden shell with two metal wheels (Computer Mouse), describing it in the patent application as an "X-Y position indicator for a display system". Engelbart later revealed that it was nicknamed the "mouse" because the tail came out the end. His group also called the on-screen cursor a "bug," but this term was not widely adopted.

He never received any royalties for his mouse invention, partly because his patent expired in 1987, before the personal computer revolution made the mouse an indispensable input device, and also because subsequent mice used different mechanisms that did not infringe upon the original patent.

Because Engelbart's research and tool-development for online collaboration and interactive human-computer interfaces was partially funded by ARPA, (the precursor of the Internet).


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