In Pictures: Of punchcards, platters, and wooden mice. The PC's origin story

Technology marches relentlessly onward, discarding the old to make way for the new. Today’s heroes quickly becomes yesterday’s news.

Pointing and clicking The evolution of the mouse is a story unto itself, and one that we’ve told before. The bones of today’s precision input device of choice can be found in Douglas Engelbart’s “X-Y Position Indicator For A Display System” (shown here), which tracked motion with the help of two perpendicular discs to monitor movement, two corresponding potentiometers, a lonesome top-mounted button, and a wooden case to hold everything together—in 1963.

The first tracking device that actually looked like the mice we use today came out of Xerox’s acclaimed PARC research and development facility in 1972. Sporting three buttons and the same basic layout as today’s point-and-clickers, that mouse was designed for use with the Xerox Alto.

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