The idea for the computer mouse first came to Doug Engelbart in 1961 as he sat in a conference on computer graphics. Engelbart sketched the idea into his notebook. His brainstorming revolved around the improvement of interactive computing, from which the idea for the mouse was born. The basic idea for the computer mouse was such: it would be a device that would have a pair of small wheels, one that would turn horizontally on a tabletop and one turning vertically. Scientifically speaking, moving the wheels around a surface would plot the x and y coordinates for a cursor on the computer screen.
Narrator: Prior to the invention of tupperware, most people used glassware such as mason jars, oval wooden shakers or pyrex dishes to store their foods. While these were better than what people had used previously, there still was room for improvement.
Narrator: Introduces Earl Tupper talking about how he was making items for the war, trying to create plastic but there were issues, none of his products were selling and he was a complete failure
*cut scene to Earl Tupper inventing Tupperware*
Tupper: Working at DuPont just isn’t cutting it for me anymore, I have so many great ideas. I think it’s time I finally start my own company.The Earl S. Tupper company. I like it, that’s what it will be.
(Youseff fiddling around with his hands trying to come up with something. Something comes to him!) AHA I’VE GOT IT! (puts lid on bowl) This is going to change the future of food preservation! ….But what to call it? TUPPERWARE
*cut to scene of two Housewives getting frustrated with their current food storage methods*
Patricia: Mason Jars were a great idea when I first got them. I loved being able to make my own jelly and jam. Too bad I always lose the church key that lets me open them. And it took me forever to figure out how to get them to seal properly. That wasted a lot of my food.
Linda: Oh my goodness, how on earth did this spoil already!? I thought that these pyrex dishes were supposed to prevent that from happening!
*cut scene to Earl Tupper trying to sell products at grocery store, in-person, etc. and failing*
Tupper talking to local Supermarket employee on the phone: I have this great new product that I strongly will be successful if it is marketed within your stores. What do you say? Do you want to add Tupperware to your inventory?
*Supermarket person responds on the phone*
Tupper: Oh great! I’m so thrilled to hear that, you won’t regret it! This product is about to take off!
*cut to a scene where the housewives call each other to compare food storage methods and talk about seeing tupperware on the shelf but not really understanding its use*
Patricia calls Linda: Linda, hello?
Linda: Hi Patricia! How are you?
Patricia: I’m doing well thanks! I was wondering if you had taken a trip to the supermarket lately?
Linda: I was just in there yesterday, why do you ask?
Patricia: Well, I was walking down the aisle to get some more lids for my mason jars and there was this new product on the shelf. I think it was called Tupperware? Have you heard of it?
Linda: Gee, I don’t think I have! Describe it to me!
Patricia: It looked like it was made of plastic, which is odd. I’ve never seen anything like it before!
Linda: Wow, I wonder what it was used for! I wish there was a way that we could see that…
*cut scene to Brownie Wise calling Earl Tupper to talk about her success selling Tupperware*
Brownie Wise on the phone: Mr Tupper, is that you? Hi! This is Brownie Wise, I’ve heard that you have this great new product but your store sales are extremely low. I work for Stanley Home Products and I think I could be an invaluable asset to your company.
Tupper: Is that so? What do you have to offer?
Wise: I think the main problem that you’re having with sales, is that people are unfamiliar with the product and aren’t really sure how to use it or what makes it stand out from other food storage alternatives.
Tupper: Fair. So what do you have in mind?
Wise: Well, one of the things that I am currently doing is working to promote products via home parties. I know that you have tried marketing them in a similar way, but I believe that if we cater directly to the women of the households and show them how to use it sales would skyrocket!
Tupper: Alright, well why don’t we give it a shot. Let’s meet next week and go over ways that you can present the product.
*cut scene to Earl Tupper meeting Brownie Wise to see her marketing tactics*
Tupper: So since you’re such a sales wiz, what did you have in mind?
Wise: You did say it was an airtight lid right?
Tupper: Yes, why?
Wise: Well, I was thinking that the women really need to be able to see just how durable this product is. Maybe we could fling it across the room like this! (throws it across the room)
Tupper: WOW! Nothing came out of it, and you’re the marketing lady now. If that’s what you want to do, we can make that happen.
Narrator: With this, Brownie Wise and Tupper partnered up to begin selling their product in the homes of women.
*cut scene to a Tupperware party featuring Brownie Wise and two other gal pals*
Brownie Wise: Look how great these air tight bowls are? Did I mention they’re plastic? They’ll keep your casseroles and food good for days in your refrigerator? Which means you can have leftovers all the time! Less time cooking for us ladies!
Astonished Patricia: You’re telling me that I don’t have to cook a new meal every night because leftovers won’t spoil?
Brownie Wise: And more! It’s better than those glass casserole dishes because they won’t break. Watch this *drops plastic tupperware bowl*
Linda: Oh my gosh! That’s incredible!
Brownie Wise: I know and did you know they come in an assortment of colors?
Patricia: They totally go with my kitchen.
Linda: Almost like they’re meant to be!
*cut scene to Earl Tupper excited about the success of sales*
Tupper: Holy Cow, Brownie! These women are loving this! Do you think you could go to another tupperware party this week and observe other women doing your sales tactics?
Wise: Of course, I can definitely do that.
Tupper: Things are going so well, and I’m really excited about the direction that this company is headed. I think you were right when you said you would be an invaluable asset to this company. How would you feel about moving up to Vice President?
Wise: Me? Vice President?! Why of course! It would be an honor!
*cut to scene of more house parties and more sales*
Housewife: Alright ladies, listen up! We’ve got an important guest here today, Ms. Brownie Wise! She is one of the masterminds behind this product.
Now, I know you’re tired of your current food storage ways or else you wouldn’t be here. I know I was! Tupperware has changed my life in numerous ways. First off, my food is lasting longer. Secondly, it has given me some freedom in that in a way, I’m now an entrepreneur.
(all of the women in the room nod in agreement, murmur about how that could be them.)
Housewife: So let me now take some time today to talk to you about this new product, Tupperware! Tupperware is great for storing soups, salads, and any type of leftover. This air tight lid is great for preservation and is super durable. I have absolutely loved having this in my kitchen and you will too.
Housewife murmurs: Wow! I could definitely use this in my kitchen.
Other Housewife: I’ll take one of everything!
Housewife seller: Wonderful! Both Brownie and I will be around all afternoon, don’t hesitate to ask us any questions about the product! Thank you all for coming out!
*cut scene to Earl Tupper getting jealous of Brownie Wise*
Tupper: Alright Ms. Wise, we need to talk.
Wise: Ms. Wise, excuse me. Since when are we not on a first name basis?
Tupper: Since you started taking over my company. This is Tupperware. You’re selling Tupperware and is your last name Tupper? NO. It’s mine, because it’s MY company. Not yours! If you wanted Brownieware maybe you should go talk to Betty Crocker!
Wise: I had no idea you felt this way. Sorry for trying to help you sell a product that you couldn’t!
Tupper: That’s it! I’ve had it with you! You are no longer VP of this company. You’re fired!
Narrator talks about how Tupper sold his company to Rexall Drug Company for more than $9million and moved to Costa Rica. He died there at the age of 76, after suffering from a heart attack (http://www.nytimes.com/1983/10/07/obituaries/earl-tupper-the-father-of-tupperware-dies.html)
*flash-forward to today where Emma and Nicole talk about how Tupperware has had an impact our society*
Nicole: Tupperware was crucial in two major ways. One, it changed the way that people preserved and transported food. Two, it allowed for women to serve as entrepreneurs while still being able to stay at home and take care of household duties. This model of at home parties is still used today for companies like Silpada and Lu La Roe.
Emma: Tupperware’s success can be measured in the fact that while we now have alternatives to Tupperware such as Glad, Ziploc, and Rubbermaid, we still refer to all of them as Tupperware.
*Ghosts of Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise appear to proudly reflect on their legacy*
Tupper’s Ghost looking at brownie: You know what Brownie, I think we did it. Look at this, look at all of these people using tupperware. I’m really sorry for what I said, you were a great VP, I just got caught up in my emotions. This company would not be what it is today had it not been for you.
Wise’s ghost talking to Tupper: You know, it’s hard to keep a level head in the business world sometimes. It’s okay, I’m glad that I could help sell your product but also give housewives some much deserved freedom.
Our goal in creating this site was to explore the invention of what we have dubbed the “aglet of the digital world.” We wanted to discuss a piece of technology that is not widely recognized as revolutionary, and its impact on the way we interact with computers today.
Heather Taylor is a Junior, graduating in 2018 with a B.A. in Spanish and a Minor in Digital Studies. She will graduate in 2019 with her Master’s in Education.
Megan is a Senior, planning on graduating in May with a B.A. in English and a B.A. in Communications & Digital Studies.
As with all tech, developers are constantly pushing the envelope and searching for new and exciting ways to revamp our devices. Ever since the invention of the mouse in the late 60’s by Douglas Engelbart, computer companies have sought out ways to find an even more efficient method of interacting with the Graphic User Interface on personal computers. This has led to the more recent development of the predecessor, and competitor to the mouse: the touch screen. As time has continued onward, we have seen touch screens dominate numerous devices, including cell phones, tablets, and even touch screen laptops. However, newer doesn’t automatically equal better, especially in terms of garnishing support. In this article, we will evaluate studies done on both the direct and indirect (touchscreen and mouse, respectively) methods of interacting with a Graphic User Interface, as well as the latest innovations from Microsoft and Apple relating to the touchscreen phenomenon. In the end, we should reach a conclusion as to whether the mouse is in danger of obsolescence soon.
This war over efficiency and accuracy of manipulating a computer display is one that began in the 60’s, comparing the mouse to its competitors the lightpen, Grafacon, and the joystick . When asked to select icons on a screen using these various devices, being measured on factors such as speed and accuracy, it was conclusively determined that “for the more experienced subjects the mouse was both faster and more accurate than any other device—including the light pen” . On the other hand, individuals who were not accustomed to using these devices were found to “perform better with both the light pen and the knee control” . The reason for this ease is due to the “psychological “naturalness” of operation” that comes with directly pointing the light pen at an item to be selected. Yet, the fact that the pen had to be “held in the air” was a major disadvantage that the mouse did not face . As tech has progressed and our screens are no longer strictly vertical, positioned upright on desks, the benefits of the naturalness of directly touching the choices on the screen that one desires has re-emerged and given validity once again to the lightpen’s initial purpose, yet minus the extra pen-shaped hardware.
As touch screens have become an increasingly important part of our daily devices, one can fairly wonder if this spells the end for the computer mouse. Another study, this time by the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories in 2007, judged the touchscreen and mouse based on “efficiency and accuracy”, just as the study before had in 1967 . However, the two competing devices were different. When asking participants to drag a green shape to a designated “dock”, the study found that participants were “about twice as likely to commit a selection error using the touch-table (8.5%) than using the mouse” (4.1%) . Regardless of this fact, “selection was faster for touch-table input…even with these multiple attempts at selection” . Another test participants were asked to take was to click opposing corners of a target and then dragging it to the intended dock as before . In this situation, the results completely flipped. That is, “two mouse input resulted in significantly lower performance compared with two-finger input on the touch-table…[especially] much higher selection-times for the two-mouse input condition” . Based on the findings of both experiments performed about the touchscreen and mouse, it is certain that both devices have their strengths and therefore prove to be worthy opponents of one another.
Considering the touchscreen revolution, computer makers such as Microsoft and Apple are beginning to create devices that appeal to this current tech-obsession. For Microsoft, this involves a touchscreen digital creativity hub called the “Surface Studio” and for Apple, it means a “touch bar” that puts tools for applications such as Photoshop on a little touch display above the keyboard to replace manual navigation towards that tool via the trackpad . Apple has strongly refused creating a touchscreen for their MacBook Pro, which is starting to draw computer buyers away from them and to begin investing in Windows machines . This is because there is something organic and exciting about being able to select images and icons with one’s own finger, especially on a digital medium. It makes our experience with technology feel more comfortable and accessible. Still, not everyone is convinced that this is the way to go.
While it remains uncertain if touch screens will eventually make computer mice an artifact of digital history, what we do know is that both technologies have advantages over the other, and that it is up to the consumers to decide which qualities, accuracy or efficiency, is more important to them in the long run. As for now, the mouse and touchscreen remain coexisting technologies.
 English, William K., Douglas C, Englebart, and Melvyn L. Berman. “Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation.” IEEE Transaction on Human Factors in Electronics 8, no. 1 (March 1967): 5-15.
 Forlines, Clifton, Daniel Wigdor, Chia Shen, and Ravin Balakrishnan. “Direct-Touch vs. Mouse Input for Tabletop Displays.” Paper presented in SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI ’07. New York, NY, 2007.
 Warren, Tom. “The new Mac vs. PC war is all about touch.” The Verge, Oct 27, 2016. http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/27/13443914/the-new-mac-vs-pc-war-is-all-about-touch
The Trackpad has long been considered a competitor of the mouse. With its flat design and ‘click anywhere’ feel, it seems that the mouse should have been obsolete years ago. However, there is far more to consider when comparing both the mouse and the trackpad. For the purposes of this study, I found reviews from actual consumers of the Magic Trackpad, Apple’s answer to a mouse alternative, and will address the pros and cons they discovered while in the process of using them. For most of the reviews, consumers have nothing but good things to say about using a trackpad for all their pointing and clicking needs. Nonetheless, there are still some devoted users who refuse to loosen their grip on their Logitechs and Mighty Mice.
To begin, I will go into the details of why the trackpad is an indispensable piece of technology. As I stated before, much of the reviews I read had good things to say about the trackpad. Comments began with statements about their mice giving them hand cramps, leading to some exposure to RSI or “repetitive stress injuries” . On the other hand, the Magic Trackpad allows users to “relax [their] hand and leave it in an open, natural position for most of the day . Not only that, another user stated that “the angle of the Trackpad” helped to alleviate the discomfort in his wrist after only “a few days” . Besides the comfort of using the Magic Trackpad, users have also commented on its accuracy of selecting and clicking on the screen. One consumer stated that “even the smallest onscreen targets are easy to hit” . With such a large platform for moving the cursor, it would be expected that there could be some lag between one’s motion and the cursor’s position on the screen. However, according to the reviews, the Magic Trackpad does a flawless job. A final benefit expressed in the reviews was the ability to perform additional commands, such as “pinch to zoom and swiping three fingers to go back in a browser” . In this way, the trackpad is not only matching the capabilities of the average computer mouse, but rather doing one better: providing users with even more control of their Graphic User Interface, or GUI.
After taking these benefits into consideration, it may seem like a mystery why everyone hasn’t abandoned their mice for trackpads. The answer is simple: not every situation is black and white. Instead, everything is a shade of gray somewhere in between. While there are definite advantages to using the trackpad, there are also some downsides that are significant. The first one is the price. At $69, a device should improve their lives in some sort of dramatic way, especially since cost was such a big deal with mouse development from the very beginning. For most people, unless it comes with the machine, the extra investment for an additional device that does the same thing as the complimentary mouse is not worth it. In a separate review, a customer reported additional pain caused from using the trackpad versus the mouse. This was because he does “a lot of clicking and dragging” and “holding my thumb down on the trackpad while moving the cursor with [his] index finger usually leads to shooting pain” . A final complaint was that the Magic Trackpad fails miserably when compared to the mouse in gaming ability. One user commented “the Magic Trackpad makes it too hard to jump around and click things very quickly” and finds attempting to play games using the trackpad “downright frustrating”.
As co-existing pieces of technology, it is obvious that both devices have pros and cons that keep them in production and valued by loyal consumers. While the mouse nor the trackpad will be able to meet all the needs of every critique, they remain alternatives to one another in a way that harmoniously provides users with greater freedom of choice. It is crucial that, when evaluating the current popularity of certain devices, we inquire what the people using them daily think. After all, they will be the ones buying the product and deciding when another is obsolete, slowly creating a movement of rejecting one option and flooding in support for the superior alternative. In the case of the mouse and trackpad, there is no clear superior choice. Only time will tell what is in store for the mouse and its “frenemy” the trackpad.
 A Week with the Magic Trackpad: It’s Bye Bye Mouse Forever [Review].” Cult of Mac, August 8, 2010. http://www.cultofmac.com/54210/a-week-with-the-magic-trackpad-bye-bye-mouse-forever-review/.
 Apple Magic Trackpad 2 Review: Solid Performer Doesn’t Feel Essential.” Macworld, October 20, 2015. http://www.macworld.com/article/2995044/input-devices/apple-magic-trackpad-2-review-solid-performer-doesnt-feel-essential.html
 Kendrick, James. “One Week With the Magic Trackpad — No Pain,” August 9, 2010. https://gigaom.com/2010/08/09/one-week-with-the-magic-trackpad-no-pain/.
Ever since the mouse’s initial development in the early 60’s, it has been constantly undergoing changes that have enabled its style to evolve with the times. The mouse has grown into a natural feature of the computer desk, right next to the keyboard and monitor. As we all know them today, computer mice are characteristically made of plastic, however this was not always the case initially. As the mouse’s design was amended from Engelbart’s model, then to Xerox and finally Apple, it has made a slow and steady progression towards a more ergonomically sound design based on point-and-click Graphic user interface interaction.
The original design for the mouse, structurally, was mechanically designed by Engelbart, however structured by his colleague Bill English. English’s prototype was “a fairly large, hand-held wooden box with a single button, and wheels attached to internal potentiometers” . First made of wood, this design was expensive and difficult to reproduce. Therefore, as Engelbart was designing his “text based operating system” called “Augment”, he and English instead offered up a “three-button mouse” to accompany the system in 1968 . However, since most text based programs were falling out of vogue, and “icon-driven interfaces became the norm, the need primarily was for a pointing device” . At this point in time, 1971, Bill English, as well as mouse research and development “left the Stanford Research Institute to join Xerox” . While there, “English worked with Jack Hawley, developing a version which replaced two wheels of his first mouse prototype with a single steel ball…to execute point-and-click operations” . The steel ball allowed for a wider range and freedom of movement as the cursor navigated the icons on the computer screens. Nevertheless, this mouse model was far from perfect. Not only was it highly expensive to produce, “between $350 to $400,” they were also far too difficult to mass produce because “the interior steel ball…had to be precisely aligned with internal rollers and springs”, which required individual hand constructed care . Not to mention, dirt could also get trapped in the rolling ball and ruin the mouse’s ability to function properly. If the mouse wanted to have a shot at ever being an accessible piece of technology, there would need to be a major change in design and materials. That is exactly what Apple Computers strived to do.
Over time, other companies such as Logitech and Evoluent have sought out ways to create a better, more ergonomically structured mouse design. While Apple stayed true to its “rectilinear forms”, their competitors were looking for better ways to address the rising issue of Repetitive Stress Injury in avid computer users. Some examples of alternative designs for the mouse include the “Evoluent Vertical Mouse” which “has the buttons and scroll wheel on the right side of the mouse” which means that “the user’s arm does not have to twist to use the mouse” . Another modification included the Logitech “trackball mouse” which is “a stationary mouse that has the normal buttons a regular mouse has but has a trackball that the user’s thumb moves to control the cursor” . Despite the major design modifications that these companies have attempted to make to the mouse, they still represent the basic tenants of inexpensive and easy to mass produce that was established in the design of the Apple mouse years ago.
For most people, this story of how the mouse was designed is never heard. All too often, it is only a part of the larger computer machine, rather than an independent entity. However, this fact that the mouse is so easily forgotten is considered a success. Jim Sachs, one of the founders of Hovey-Kelley, commented that “it’s the peculiar fate of good design to erase traces of itself; bad design is far more noticeable” . With this idea in mind, the mouse, especially the Mighty Mouse, continues to connect both young and old to the digital world through the most organic motion of point-and-click.
 Atkinson, Paul. “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: The Computer Mouse in the History of Computing.” Design Issues 23, no. 3 (Summer 2007): 49-61.
 Bevier, Katie, Mohit Mehendale, Cy Abdelnour, and Curtis Sawdon. “Designing an Ergonomic Computer Mouse.” Univeristy of Michigan, 2011. Accessed March 16, 2017. http://umich.edu/~desci501/2011/Team10/APD11_T10_FINALREPORT.pdf
 Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim. “Mighty Mouse.” Stanford Magazine,March/April 2002. Accessed February 20, 2017. https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=37694
Douglas Carl Engelbart
Douglas Carl Engelbart was born in 1925, and died only a few years ago in 2013 at the age of eighty-eight . He grew up near Portland, Oregon on a small farm, and went from graduating high school in 1942 to studying electrical engineering at Oregon State University .
During World War II, Engelbart enlisted in the Navy and served for two years as a radar technician . Returning to school after his service, he completed his degree in electrical engineering in 1948, and moved to San Francisco to work for the NACA Ames Laboratory .
In 1963, Doug Engelbart began to receive funding for his own research laboratory, a lab that he named the Augmentation Research Center . A short five years later, Engelbart presented what became known as the “Mother of All Demos” at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco . This presentation was the first ever public demonstration of on-screen video teleconferencing, hypermedia, and last but certainly not least, the computer mouse. It is this last invention for which he is most well-known .
Though Engelbart’s professional life was incredibly involved and well-developed, it was not to the detriment of his personal life. Engelbart enjoyed a marriage that lasted forty-seven years, had four children, and nine grandchildren . According to Engelbart’s daughter he also had many hobbies, including hiking, camping, sailing, reading, and raising ducks, earthworms, and bees .
Sadly, in 2007, Engelbart was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which he suffered from until his death in 2013 . On the Doug Engelbart Institute website, a response characteristic to him would be to say: “All the more reason to get working on boosting our collective IQ, so we can get better at solving these complex, urgent problems” .
William (Bill) English
William English (aka Bill English) is the somewhat lesser-known contributor to the invention of the computer mouse. In 1965, English was sponsored by NASA to lead a project meant to find the best method of selecting a single point on a computer screen . Ultimately, the mouse won over other methods . For more information on those methods, visit the Antecedents tab in the menu bar.
English had been a colleague of Engelbart’s for a number of years, and was hired by Engelbart to create the hardware design for the computer mouse. He was also a co-author with Engelbart and several others on a paper related to the work he had done for NASA that was published in 1967, and discussed various tests and analyses that the group had used to “determine the best display selection techniques for a computer-aided text-manipulation system” . In 1968, English helped Engelbart to develop the presentation that turned into the “Mother of All Demos” .
English is credited with the design of not only the hardware for the original mouse, but also with the invention of the trackball that became the replacement to the wheel at the base of the mouse .
- Living History: The Doug Engelbart Archive. Doug Engelbart Institute. Accessed February 20, 2017. http://www.dougengelbart.org/library/engelbart-archives.html
- Ghent, Janet Silver. “The Mouse that Roared.” Palo Alto Weekly, March 26, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2017. http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2015/03/26/the-mouse- that-roared
- Greenemeier, Larry. “The Origin of the Computer Mouse: Now an Endangered Species, it was Crucial to the Development of Personal Computing and Internet.” Scientific American, August 18, 2009. Accessed February 20, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti cle/origins-computer-mouse/
- English, William K., Douglas C, Englebart, and Melvyn L. Berman. “Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation.” IEEE Transaction on Human Factors in Electronics 8, no. 1 (March 1967): 5-15.