Geek Of The Week: William English

Geek Of The Week: William English

William English was an American computer engineer who contributed to the development of the computer mouse while working for Douglas Engelbart at SRI International’s Augmentation Research Center. He would later work for Xerox PARC and Sun Microsystems. He and Douglas Engelbart share credit for creating the first computer mouse in 1963; English built the initial prototype, and was its first user, based on Engelbart’s notes. English led a 1965 project, sponsored by NASA, which evaluated the best way to select a point on a computer display; the mouse was the winner. English was also instrumental at The Mother of All Demos in 1968, which showcased the mouse and other technologies developed as part of their NLS (oN-Line System). In particular, English figured out how to connect a terminal in the San Francisco Civic Auditorium to the host computer at SRI 30 miles (48 km) away, and also transmitted audio and video between the locations.

He left SRI in 1971 and went to Xerox PARC, where he managed the Office Systems Research Group. While working at PARC, English developed a ball mouse, in which a ball replaced the original set of wheels. It worked similarly to a moveable ball-based mouse device called Rollkugel, which had been developed by Telefunken, Germany, and was offered since 1968 as input device for their computers.

About the Author

avatar MIKE: A geek who currently works as a Biologist and has an extensive science background. He is an avid user of HPC systems used for scientific research in the Washington DC area. Mike's working knowledge of using computers to solve problems brings a unique viewpoint to the podcast.