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Stanford Mouse Video Archive 140

serutan writes "Stanford University has a retro-cool series of video clips of a 1968 presentation that foreshadowed the Internet and marked the public debut of the mouse. It is a surreal, weirdly captivating piece of computer history." Part of the site includes a solicitation for those who have memories and stories about the old days of computing, when programs were measured in inches and people felt they were lucky, lucky I tell you, to have ones and zeros.
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Stanford Mouse Video Archive

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  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @08:59AM (#3037276)
    The page linked is, of course, the one from BT's hyperlink patent story [] we discussed recently. One of the videos on the site demonstrates the use of that very thing.
  • .. How great it was when you figured out that WordPerfect 5.0 had mouse support? Not that anybody had mice back then... After all, it was the 1980's for cryin' out loud.
    • cept for all those amiga users.
      • Or the Mac users. Remember MacWrite? It changed the world.
        • Or the Mac users. Remember MacWrite? It changed the world.

          Yes, and the Apple Lisa before that. And don't forget MacDraw, which introduced the now familiar Toolbar as seen in Photoshop et al. BTW MacWrite was written by Quark.

          (Mac user since 1991, owns a 512k, 2- Pluses, MacPortable w/backlight, 2- Mac II fx's, 2 Mac II ci's, Centris 610, PowerCenter 132, PowerMac G4/466 running OS X)

    • After all, it was the 1980's for cryin' out loud.

      I used Write on my Amiga 2500's Workbench back in the late/mid 1980s. And you know what? It had a mouse! Amigas really were ahead of their time...

      Honsetly, though, I don't like using the mouse unless I'm doing some work that explicitly requires it (i.e., Quake II, CAD, etc). I find the keyboard much faster, and with BlackBox (my window manager, very possibly the best) I can access an infinite number of screens and move around with keystrokes. It's just faster when you don't have to take your hands off the keyboard. This is also why I use elvis for text editing; so I can do anything and everything without moving my hands from the "home row" (well, the general area atleast).
  • Quoting the text on:

    [. ..] people felt they were lucky, lucky I tell you, to have ones and zeros.

    Well, read this piece [] and think about it for a moment!

    Okay it's a bit old.. couldn't resist though :)

  • we didn't have the luxury of 0nes AND Zeros, we had ONLY 0nes. Yup, those were the good old days. No bugs like division by Zeros and all array indices start with 0nes!

    But eventually we grew tired of having only 0nes, so we tried all we can to discover the mysterious Zero.

    We were sooooo excited when we finally realized the way to get Zeros (and lots of them) is to get rid of our NES that's been consuming so much of our time. So we are left with 0!

    Ahh, the good old days. Though it sometimes troubles me to see how kids these days forget the pain we went through to bring them the Zeros. All they talk about are Twos...
  • by codexus ( 538087 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:24AM (#3037328)
    even the first mouse had 3 buttons! ;)
  • Real (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChrisJC ( 62147 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:25AM (#3037330) Homepage
    And why can't we have these clips in MPEG or something that everybody can see?
    • Because MPEG would be a bandwidth hog compared to Real, and Real *is* accessible by most people. Mac, Win, Linux, Sparc Solaris all have working players, though seems to treat them like their bastard children, hiding them in an unimaginable maze of links to get to the linux versions. I keep a realplay8 and the alpha realone player for linux around, because realone supports XVideo extension, but sometimes it breaks and you need realplayer8...
      • you do know that the bitrate of mpeg is variable right? you can have a low bitrate mpeg thats the same size and quality as a real video file.
        • Yes the bitrate of MPEG-1 is variable, and yes you can have the same bitrate, and yes you can have the same quality as real, *but* you can't have both the same quality and MPEG-1 video, MPEG-1 at typical realmedia bitrates is complete and utter crap, MPEG-2 is designed for high bitrates, and MPEG-4 based video codecs might well do as good or better, but availability of those is rather strange right now. Real is the best cross-platform low-bandwidth video choice out there today..
    • Um, are you sure you don't confuse Real with Quicktime or Wmedia?

      Its Real with all platforms support, not others :-)

      Oh about MPEG? Would be nice but if you are unless on an freaking speedy line, you wouldn't have chance to stream it.
    • They're not real smart at Stanford ;) - Actaully, I hate real too, it's like a legitimate virus or something, takes over your computer. Aomost as bad a windows.....
    • Re:Real (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by serutan ( 259622 )
      This comment gets a score of 4 Insightful??? Uh, okay Beavis.
  • Doesn't this trump the BT patent on Hyperlinks?
  • by Spackler ( 223562 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:36AM (#3037363) Journal
    If you were not born when this event took place (1968) please step aside and wait until tomorrow to view the site. This way, us older nerds with the short memories can have a chance at it.

    Younger folks who actually programmed a PDP-anything also can have a quick look.
  • repost (Score:4, Funny)

    by joshwa ( 24288 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @09:44AM (#3037390) Homepage Journal
    *sigh* ...

    British Telecom, Hyperlinking And Mr. Englebart [] Slashdot, 28 Sep 2000
  • Right close to the end of the page it's mentioned that...
    Individuals and groups in the Network can query "Who's got what services?" NLS provides the tools to connect different users to appropriate technology
    I think it's amazing that these guys were developing all this back in '68 and it's taken 32 years before the rest of the world catches on.
  • This is great stuff! Someone should enter this into the ongoing BT hyperlink-patent trial if it hasn't already been done. Check it out yourself: [] Looks very much like hyperlinking to me! And that was 1968!
    Maybe the bad guys will now lose for a change.
  • people felt they were lucky, lucky I tell you, to have ones and zeros.

    Cue the New Four Yorkshiremen sketch []. Binary? We used to dream o' binary!

  • before they process more patent requests.

  • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:09AM (#3037503) Homepage
    "Doug demonstrates working with a graphic file tagged with hyperlinked items. Clicking on a link in the graphic, Doug jumps to separate items, such as texts, linked to the graphic."

    We call this Prior Art.
  • by ascii ( 70907 ) <ascii.microcore@dk> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:14AM (#3037534) Homepage
    I do believe the original prototype is still on display at The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, CA.

    It's encased in a transparent plastic box and you can actually pick it up and study it at close. I was lucky enough to get a couple of snapshots of it.

    Get a glimpse here [].
  • by JohnDenver ( 246743 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:25AM (#3037589) Homepage
    * Microsoft rips off Apple
    * Apple rips off Xerox
    * Xerox rips off Stanford's Augmentation Research Center

    Who did Stanford's Augmentation Research Center rip off?

    • Who did Stanford's Augmentation Research Center rip off?
      If you were paying attention, you would know that these guys invented the mouse pointing device. Xerox PARC came up with the ball-driven mouse and was the first place the mouse really moved from a mere crufted-together tech-demo to a seriously usuable tool.
  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:25AM (#3037592) Homepage
    I remember that particular mouse. It was like a big hockey puck, but without a ball. It had two feet that would spin when you moved the mouse. Depending on how both feet spun (together for left and right (cw/ccw for forward and back) it moved the curser (sic). It worked suprisingly well.

    I like the new optical mice better though, especially since the "puck" mouse was awkward fit in the hand...

    That stanford mouse is too old school

    • The University of Utah had an early mouse and graphical display system in '68 or '69 with the same kind of technology (although I remember the mouse being a bit smaller than the one in the video). Still not very ergonomic, though.

      Like modern ball mice, it had two digitizers, but instead of a ball, there were two metal wheels that stuck out of the bottom at right angles. Moving left/right would roll one wheel while the other one, being at right angles, would just drag sideways across the desktop. Likewise, moving up/down would roll the other wheel while the first one dragged. Other directions would roll/slide both wheels proportionately. I can't remember how many buttons were on it.

      It certainly impressed us at the time. Of course, I now also use an optical mouse which would have been unbelievable back in '68.
      • I saw a brief interview with Engelbart on TechTV over a year ago in response to tactile mice (like Logitech's iFeel mouse), and he had some interesting things to say about mouse evolution.

        One of the things he mentioned was that his original mouse used two orthogonal wheels instead of a mouseball. If you tilted the mouse, it would rest on only one of the wheels. Depending on which wheel it was resting on, you then could move the mouse perfectly horizontally or vertically.

        This can be kind of useful in CAD work. Modern mice don't do this, although I guess you can restrict movement to one dimension via software anyway.
  • Has anyone got this as one big file?

    I'd LOVE to put this on Video CD and show it to a bunch of people...

  • people felt they were lucky, lucky I tell you, to have ones and zeros.

    Oh yeah? We had to use the letter 'O'. And when RAM was being developed the only way we could store anything was by building up static electricity and using our fingers. And then sometimes we didn't even have socks. Other times we didn't have carpet. Any we liked it that way.
  • These guys are going to get so sued by Disney, Don't they know that Disney owns "The Mouse"! :-)
  • I agree that formatting these videos in RealVideo was a regrettable choice.

    I also wish it weren't encoded at such a high bitrate. You 56k users will have a hard time looking at these, if these are in the same format as when they were first slashdotted; at times, even my cablemodem couldn't keep up. In fact, since it is a monochrome recording, isn't there a monochrome codec that could be used to archive this video with the same quality but without the bandwidth overkill?
  • The rush of returning memories... the days when SHUFFLE THE DECK meant more than playing a hand of cribbage... when DEBUGGING meant, not only listening to the program run on AM radio - it meant opening the cabinets and physically removing beetles and moths... when even opening the cabinet was dangerous because they weighed over a ton a piece... and if you opened the front door without opening the back door, it would tip over on you.

    Yes... we loved our ones and zeros (not to mention BAUDOT too!)... and we loved the front panel lights where we could actually watch binary flowing through the registers... and who could forget the fantastic rocker switches on the front where you could REALLY man-handle your software.

    Yes... the good old days where finding a bug in your program meant that the computer operator simply threw a 2 inch thick printout at you with a scrawled note at the top... YOU HAVE A BUG. And who could forget the chad wars while waiting for a program to compile!

    But the thing we ESPECIALLY liked is the fact that there was no Microsoft.... computers were pure and we didn't need 2 gigahertz pentiums in order to take 3 minutes to boot a stupid OS.

    The good old days... when computers were computers and programmers actually knew how to program!

  • Seriously, this is a story worth re-posting every two to three years.

    There's always Net newbies coming here and bookmarks that need updating.

    Most interesting to me this time are the metaphors Doug does[n't] use -- language shapes the world ya know.
  • why does the screen make funny noises whenever the display changes? I wish mine did that.
  • I love the little sounds that Engelbart's system made, as a function and work indicator. Not very practical, but cool nonetheless. I wish photoshop would do something like that whenever i apply a gaussian blur on a 40MB file. :)
  • Wasn't this posted before? Same content different site, just not cut up into short videos?
  • I refuse to install Real. Shame..
  • All right...Let's see...It's 1968. What cool features do we want on our new computer?
    • Broadband network connection
    • Multitasking operating environment
    • Clickable/graphical user interface, with sound cues linked to events
    • Multi-head display
    • "Video Out" for use for large, low-scan-rate displays
    • Support for a programmamble "left-hand controller" for executing frequently-used commands
    • Effortless video conferencing
    • Built-in support for cutting-edge mouse design
    • "A browser that *is* part of the operating system

    OK, it's now 1998. What cool features do we want on our new computer?...ummm...

    Disclaimer: I'm one of the "crusty old pharts" you read about...still make a living programming in, among other languages, COBOL. Last year, I burned a copy of this presentation on a CD, and now use it frequently to educate any "pimply-faced youth" that for whatever reason seem to believe that Microsoft *invented* computing. Try it sometime...

    The moral of this story: It ain't innovation if you're copying what has already been done!
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @01:07PM (#3038612) Homepage
    The first pointing device for computer input was the "light gun" developed for the SAGE air defense system, in the 1950s. The trackball and the RAND tablet both predated the mouse.

    Predating all of these was the sliding crank used as a target designator in the Nike missile system. This was a 2 degree of freedom crank; you could turn the crank, or slide the handle radially. This device is not well known, but can be seen at the restored launch site [] in Marin County, CA. The guidance computer for the Nike was an analog system, not a digital computer, though.

  • What exactly is a chord keyset? To me it looked as if the gentleman was using it to issue commands. I wish that something similar had been introduced into the PC. I know that I find it hard to remember keyboard shortcuts. Having a separate tool for this that had 5 or 6 keys would make a great addition the the PC platform and would make it easier for me to remember which buttons to push. Or maybe I'm just crazy.
    • Doug was using the buttons on his "keypad" to type, as well as issue commands. It has a very limited input set, not as large as a standard keyboard. But, within that input set, some people have been able to get about 25 words per minute.

      It works like this: each individual key has a value. And each combination of keys has a value. So, for example, pressing the button under your thumb may correspond to the letter "a". While your other fingers may be "b", "c", "d", and "e".
      Pressing both your first and second finger may input an "f". Pressing your first and third finger may input a "g".

      If I remembered enough combinatorial mathematics, I could tell you how many combinations there are in 5 buttons. But, I'll just leave it as something between 26 (the alphabet) and 110 (a normal keyboard).

      On a side note, I'm really glad to see that this video is getting such wide distribution. I haven't seen it in a while. But in case they don't mention it, this was done across a wireless network! The packets were transmitted between trucks parked on top of hills.

    • What exactly is a chord keyset? To me it looked as if the gentleman was using it to issue commands. I wish that something similar had been introduced into the PC. I know that I find it hard to remember keyboard shortcuts. Having a separate tool for this that had 5 or 6 keys would make a great addition the the PC platform and would make it easier for me to remember which buttons to push. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

      On the old Xerox systems you kept your one hand on the mouse and the other hand on the chord keyset. It was a keyboard with fewer keys, and you would press the keys in combinations... or chords, just like playing a chord on a piano.

  • ...when programs were measured in inches ...

    Inches long? Or inches thick?
  • Hmmm....I read this a year ago on here. It's just like those stupid jokes servers I was on back before gopher. After awhile, I get the same jokes again. So I unsubscribed, nothing new.

    Still it's an awesome video, who knows what videos they have now, of things that will look extermely weird to our children.

  • While Doug certainly had alot to do with bringing the machine to the people, he didn't quite invent all of the ideas shown in the '68 Demo. Some of them had been around for years, and in some cases, decades. Alot of people tend to think that 50's and 60's computing were archaic and limited in scope..That everything before the personal computer was miserably bad, terribly slow and difficult to handle. Not true.

    For example, Ivan Sutherland was doing primitive virtual reality, complete with head-mounted displays and motion sensors, by 1969.. Of course, it wasnt like Quake or anything, but the idea was there, the code was there, and the people to do it were there. Analog voice synthesis goes back to 1939. Realtime text-to-speech synthesis popped up in 1962. Your MP3 collection is the great, great, great grandson of research done in 1958 on digital sound synthesis.

    More interestingly, perhaps, is videoconferencing. Videoconferencing, as an idea, was first demonstrated in 1926. If you can find Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" at Blockbuster, rent it. Like Englebart, Lang's vision was horrifyingly ahead of its time. Theres a scene in the film where one person dials up another person (complete with an on-screen display of the dialing process!) and within a few seconds, it connects and thye begin talking to eachother via video.

    Not bad for 1926.


  • The University of Canterbury (in New Zealand) used to show this to stage 1 computer science students. It blew me away then and it is still impressive.
  • At least here in Sweden, it is a known "fact" that the inventor Håkan Lans invented the mouse (and color graphics, and a mini submarine, and...)

    See this link [] for some more info about him.

    But this has already been discussed before [].
  • Was ANYBODY able to find Al Gore in those clips?

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...