World’s First Computer Mouse, Three Button X-Y, Is Going on Auction

The starting bid is set at an amount that could be deemed pretty low for such a nostalgic piece.
Fabienne Lang
Three button X-Y MouseRR Auction

Next week, the world's first computer mouse will go on auction. Douglas Engelbart's three-button X-Y Mouse was first presented on December 9, 1968, at the "Mother of All Demos."

This same iconic piece of computer history is going to be on sale via RR Auction on December 17, with the initial bid starting at 18:00 PM EST. Surprisingly, the starting bid is placed at $800 — a figure we deem as too low for such an impressive piece of computer history. 


The sensational piece of computer hardware was brought to the world thanks to Engelbart and his colleagues, including its co-creator William English, who sadly passed away this year.

At the time the mouse was presented, Engelbart was working at the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute, which is now known as SRI International.

World’s First Computer Mouse, Three Button X-Y, Is Going on Auction
Engelbart's three button X-Y Mouse.                                                Source: RR Auction

During the Mother of All Demos meeting in 1968, the computer pioneer and his colleagues not only showcased the X-Y Mouse, but also a variety of computer features. These included video conferencing, screen sharing, word processing, hypermedia, email, teleconferencing — features we take for granted today but that stood out supremely back then. 

The three button X-Y Mouse was developed as part of a NASA-funded project that aimed to improve a computer interface's operations that would enable users to more quickly and easily solve complex issues, reported New Atlas.

Engelbart's creation, which became a reality thanks to English's touch, consisted of a small wooden box that had a button on top and a cord linking it to the work station. Under the box were two metal wheels placed at right angles from each other, forming an X-Y axis. 

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World’s First Computer Mouse, Three Button X-Y, Is Going on Auction
The bottom of the mouse.                                                                   Source: RR Auction

Engelbart patented the mouse in 1967 on behalf of SRI, and it was later improved to have a plastic outer casing and three buttons on top instead of just one. Apple later licensed the X-Y Mouse's patent from SRI for approximately $40,000

The mouse is no longer functioning, as the cord was cut short to create a desk display. Regardless, it's an incredibly rare piece of computer history and we're excited to see what happens at the auction next week

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