Remembering Doug Engelbart

Doug Engelbart with the late Rene Sommer of Logitech, responsible for multiple key innovations around the mouse. (At the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the mouse.) Photo by Erik Charlton. Doug Engelbart with Logitech chairman Guerrino De Luca

Today a legend of the computer era quietly passed away. His impact was as big as his device was small. He built the mighty mouse that gave Logitech its start.

Logitech is mourning the passing of Doug Engelbart, the father of the mouse and one of the most important innovators in Silicon Valley. He touched the lives of our founders – Daniel Borel, Giacomo Marini and Pierluigi Zappacosta – and our chairman – Guerrino De Luca – as well as hundreds of former and current Logitech employees, who felt he was like a member of the family while he maintained his office in Logitech’s campus. People at Logitech loved this kind and deeply thoughtful man and we respected him as a technology visionary. We built the company on his creation.

Doug became widely recognized back in 1968. The computer was seen as an extraordinary, number-crunching machine. Yet, in December of that year, Doug, a brilliant young scientist at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) showed the world that the computer could be even more: a personal, communications device that could be easy to navigate with tools like a keyboard and a mouse. Doug executed the now-famous “Mother of All Demos” in December 1968. He demonstrated a remote network, shared screen collaboration, video conferencing, hypertext, interactive text editing, and the computer mouse – more than enough to inspire a whole generation of innovators to develop the personal computer as a platform that has changed our lives.

Doug was an innovator, and in his “Mother of All Demos” he opened up a spirit of innovation in the world of computing that has never slowed. For Logitech in particular, Doug’s work in inventing the first computer mouse holds a special place in the company’s history. He pioneered the navigation of a computer’s graphical interface. And it is on the back of his work that Logitech built its business as a world leader in products that connect people in a natural way to the digital experiences they care about. Today Logitech creates all kinds of accessories that allow people to have a more personal, intuitive way of interacting with their computing device – smartphone, tablet or PC.

But to borrow from something Walt Disney said about Disney, at Logitech “it all started with a mouse.”  We thank Doug Engelbart for creating a mouse that has roared through the computer age and changed the way we work and play. His invention gave birth to a small company called Logitech, which has moved beyond the mouse but never stopped appreciating the ‘humble masterpiece’ that Engelbart created.

Doug Engelbart, may you Rest In Peace.

Author

President and CEO, Logitech

13 comments

  • The world has lost a great pioneer in the (personal) computer industry!! R.I.P. Douglas Engelbart!

  • Thank you Logitech! I remember when we formed Bootstrap Institute, just beginning to discuss what kind of office space we should look for, out of the blue a call from Pierluigi saying he would be honored if we could come to Logitech. Thank you for making your home from the early 1990s to 2007. My father adored all of you, and deeply appreciated all you have done for him personally, and to carry his work forward, as do I. Thank you Logitech! – Christina

  • R.I.P. Douglas. You were one of the people I looked to for a vision of the future. Sad you didn’t get to live any further into it – but you did see a lot come true. Kudos to Logitech for having him on board. I hadn’t known.

  • Just wonted to say thank u for the mouse mr Engelbart
    I wish i had been abel to say it to your face just how much pleasure , how much wonderfull awe i have felt as i journey ed throught worlds your invention alowed me to navigate.
    Thank you so much. Peace. and long rest …………………… Tovoc

  • Doug Engelbart is one of personal heroes of my field. I just retired from 31 years of service working in the IT area of a major public university (www.iu.edu) and his genius touched my worked in countless ways. It allowed me to produce excellent programs that helped other people do their jobs easier and better which is what I think Doug was all about. As Doug, I have gone through the rapid, complex arc of IT invention and adoption from punch cards to networks, distributed computing, keyboards, touchpads and trackballs, and the inherent goodness of Doug lives within all of them. For those of us with our IT hearts still beating, we will think fondly of Doug for as long as we live.

  • It’s really sad to see such amazing people gone from our world, they simply deserve to live their life more than anyone else, you will always be remembered, R.I.P. Douglas Engelbart

  • This dude and company’s awesome! Wish I could personally thank Engelbert. Without him (and of course the people from Logitech), how cool and useful would computers be today?

    Thank you all for being at the forefront and leading the industry in usability!

  • Thanks Logitech,

    During my days as a vendor visiting Logitech’s headquarters in the 1990s, I’d stop in Doug’s office to chat about mutual friends from SRI. He was always gracious and enjoyed sharing stories.

    Bon Voyage, Doug. Thanks for everything.

    –kwgm

  • I happened upon this blog quite by accident; I bought a Logitech wireless keyboard because the touchpad on my laptop started being wonky (that’s a perfectly good technical term is it not?). Shortly thereafter, the entire PC crashed and burned with no hope of resurrection so I was going online to look at the support documents (yes, some of us do that) to see if there is a place to store the wireless,er, unifying receiver (after I do so, and complete this entry, I will, with fear and trepidation, open the lid of my pristine, new MacBook Pro). When the website loaded, I saw “In Memoriam Douglas C. Englebart…father of the mouse”. Really? Hmm, my interest was piqued. Wow! I am in awe of Mr. Englebart and his achievements. I have read and re-read what he presented in his Mother of All Demos…in 1968. Wait! 19-60-8. 1968?? He was presenting such concepts in 1968? When I think of computers in 1968, my first thought is of HAL: “What do you think you’re doing Dave?” Or a behemoth of a machine taking up an entire room with banks of flashing lights and buttons. What an honor it must have been to have collaborated with Mr. Englebart, or to have heard his presentations, or to have been his wife or one of his children. For those of you who did work and live with him, did you appreciate his creative powers, his forward thinking? Did you know, were you able to conceive that he and you were at the forefront of this massive explosion of technology which in the course of 45 years would profoundly affect every corner of our world? Being a person who sees the world in 2-D and declares herself as having a ‘numerical processing disorder’ (hating anything having to do with math–except money), I cannot begin to grasp how a computer works or the Internet, or even that clever device…the mouse. However, I deeply admire those of you who have had a vision and who have made that vision a reality. Thank you Douglas C. Englebart for your contributions to the field of computer technology. As your family and friends mourn your passing, may they take comfort in knowing that you made a difference; you left a legacy that touches all of our lives.

  • I had the great pleasure of doing a video interview with Doug at the Logitech offices in May 2006.
    We were producing a keynote video for Bruce Chizen at Adobe and Doug graciously agreed to be in it. He gave our crew a demo of the Augment system he’d created as well as showed us a replica of the first mouse. His passion and vision really came though in everything he did. It was truly one of the most inspiring afternoons I’ve ever spent. Please send regards to his family and friends, he touched so many people with his warmth and humanity. I know he is greatly missed.

    The transcript of the interview:
    http://tinyurl.com/l6wbtfu

    The video that resulted:
    http://vimeo.com/lundahl/evolutionofcommunication

  • Doug was the most unassuming, personable and friendly “famous” person I’ve ever met.
    He would always welcome me into his office, taking the time to chat and ask how I was doing.
    RIP Dr. Englebart,
    Bob Cassidy
    Logitech Manufacturing Engineering Manager, 1995-1996

  • Thank you Logitech! I remember when we formed Bootstrap Institute, just beginning to discuss what kind of office space we should look for, out of the blue a call from Pierluigi saying he would be honored if we could come to Logitech. Thank you for making your home from the early 1990s to 2007. My father adored all of you, and deeply appreciated all you have done for him personally, and to carry his work forward, as do I

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