By MICHAEL LIEDTKE
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ Doug Engelbart, a visionary who invented the computer mouse and developed other technology that has transformed the way people work, play and communicate, died late Tuesday. He was 88.
His death of acute kidney failure occurred at his home in Atherton, Calif., after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, according to one of his daughters, Diana Engelbart Mangan.
Back in the 1950s and '60s, when mainframes took up entire rooms and were fed data on punch cards, Engelbart already was envisioning a day when computers would empower people to share ideas and solve problems in ways that seemed unfathomable at the time.
Engelbart considered his work to be all about "augmenting human intellect" â¿¿ a mission that boiled down to making computers more intuitive to use. 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."
Engelbart "brought tremendous value to society," said Curtis R. Carlson, the CEO of SRI International, where Engelbart worked when it was still known as the Stanford Research Institute. "We will miss his genius, warmth and charm. Doug's legacy is immense. Anyone in the world who uses a mouse or enjoys the productive benefits of a personal computer is indebted to him."
The notion of operating the inside of a computer with a tool on the outside was way ahead of its time when Engelbart began working on it. The mouse didn't become commercially available until 1984, with the released of Apple's then-revolutionary Macintosh, a prelude to future breakthroughs such as the iPhone and iPad.
All of those devices were conceived by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October 2011. Although Jobs' contributions to personal technology are far better known, Engelbart left an indelible mark, too.