Vintage Computer Mouse created by pioneer Douglas Engelbart sold for $178,936 at auction
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Vintage Computer Mouse created by pioneer Douglas Engelbart sold for $178,936 at auction
Douglas Engelbart: X-Y Axis Mouse and Coding Keyset. Sold For: $178,936 (w/BP). Estimate: $15,000+.

BOSTON, MASS.- An early mouse and coding keyset created by computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart sold for $178,936 at auction, according to Boston-based RR Auction.

The pair of early input devices like those used in his iconic 1968 'Mother of All Demos.' The rare, early three-button computer mouse designed by Engelbart, utilizes two metal discs which correspond to the X-axis and Y-axis on the bottom to locate the position of the cursor, rather than a ball or optical light that came to be used later. The coding keyset, features five keys, permitting 31 key-press combinations, for typing and entering commands.

As demonstrated in the 'Mother of All Demos,' this hardware configuration allowed a user to point and click using the mouse in the right hand, while entering commands using the keyset on the left. The keyset was meant to supplement—not replace—a traditional keyboard.

The 'Mother of All Demos' would prove to be massively influential, though it took well over a decade for Engelbart's ideas to become mainstream.

In the early 1970s, much of Engelbart's original team ended up at Xerox PARC, where they continued their research in human-computer interaction and kept improving upon the mouse. While touring the research facility in 1979, Steve Jobs witnessed the concepts of the mouse and the graphical user interface (GUI) in action. Impressed by their user-friendliness, he aimed to simplify and incorporate these intuitive features into Apple's computers.

The Xerox mice cost $300 apiece, didn't roll around smoothly, and had three buttons. Jobs wanted a simple, single-button model that cost $15. Apple licensed Engelbart's mouse patent from SRI for around $40,000, and Jobs hired the design firm IDEO to bring the mouse to the masses.

Apple's mouse—which used a rollerball mechanism—was introduced with the expensive Lisa computer in 1983, but achieved fame and popularity when the more affordable Macintosh was released in 1984.

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

Additional highlights from the sale include, but are not limited by:

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 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 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 began on February 17 and concluded on March 16.

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