Vintage “Made By Douglas Engelbart” PC Mouse & More Sell In Auction For $178,936

Jason R. Wilson


Made By Douglas Engelbart PC Mouse

Boston-based auction house RR Auction recently held bids for an early mouse and coding set. Computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart designed and created this prototype, fetching a high bid of $178,936.

Extremely rare early mouse and input prototype designed by Douglas Engelbart sells at auction for almost $179K

The mouse and input were considered part of Engelbart's 'Mother of All Demos' auction. The mouse, designed in 1968, incorporated a protruding three-button design, utilizing two individual metallic discs controlling the X and Y axis on the bottom of the mouse. This would assist the peripheral to help the cursor locate positions where today, trackballs or optical sensors maintain that task. The additional coding keyset offered five keys that would function up to thirty-one keypress combinations for commands or typing.

The auction house demonstrated that the hardware configuration permitted the user to manipulate the mouse with the right hand while simultaneously entering commands or typing with the keyset with the left hand. The keyset was not intended to replace standard keyboards at the time but to supplement the mouse.

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

Image source: RR Auctions

The next decade saw Engelbart and his team working at Xerox PARC. This allowed the members to continue improving and examining human-to-computer interactions to bring the mouse to a more efficient input device. When Engelbart was at Xerox PARC, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs watched the team and the conceptualizations of what the mouse could provide users, especially by making it more valuable, and determined to incorporate the same concepts, if not make them better, in Apple's designs.

Each of the mice created for the Xerox PARC cost the client $300 and did not offer the best movement. Jobs wanted to take the same design, limit the input to a single button, and have the cost be $15. To accomplish this, Jobs had Apple license the patent for the Xerox mouse from SRI. The license was $40,00, and Jobs brought in IDEO, a computer and peripheral design firm, to help bring the new design to mass production.

The Apple mouse incorporated a rollerball into its design and was packaged with the company's Apple Lisa computer in 1983. However, it was not until the first Macintosh computer was released the following year that the mouse saw more use as the newer Apple system was more affordable for consumers.

Bobby Livingston, Executive VP of RR Auctions, stated, "Engelbart's invention would, in part, change the course of modern life. This device played a crucial role in the evolution of computer history."

Additional items that were part of the auction were items, such as:

  • Del Yocam's Apple Lisa with Twiggy Drives and original boxes sold for $81,251.
  • Atari CX3000 Graduate Computer Keyboard Prototype sold for $61,141.
  • Apple iPhone's first generation 2007, factory-sealed, sold for $54,904.
  • Del Yocam's One Millionth Macintosh Plus sold for $26,590.
  • Bill Gates TRS-80 laptop computer sold for $25,000.
  • Steve Jobs typed a letter offering an "Insanely great" NeXT job offer signed by Jobs, which sold for $17,045.
  • Macintosh 128K Prototype Computer with Display Case and Accessories sold for $16,500.

The Steve Jobs and the Apple Computer Revolution auction by RR Auction were held between February 17, 2023, and ended March 16, 2023.

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