Historical Events  Science
Apple mouse

Steve Jobs stole the idea for the mouse from Xerox

Steve Jobs did not steal the idea for the mouse from Xerox

Steve Jobs and the Mouse

There's a story going round in tech circles that Steve Jobs got the idea for the mouse when he saw a clunky prototype on a visit to Xerox labs in 1979. 

In fact, when the first Apple mouse became available commercially in 1984, a Xerox computer featuring one had been on sale for years. Since you can't steal an idea for which products are aleady available, because they are in the public domain, the notion he did so is incorrect.

He definitely did improve on the physical implementation, making them much easier to use, more reliable, more stylish and much more affordable, but that's a different argument.

Douglas Englebart

The mouse was first patented in 1967 by Doug Englebart.

mouse patent 700x521

Instead of typing instructions, one points to pictures on the screen by sliding a handheld device called a mouse along the top of the desk next to the computer.

- Wired, 1983

Apple's mouse

After the trip to Xerox, Apple began working on their design.

The Xerox mouse had three buttons, was complicated, cost $300 apiece, and didn't roll around smoothly. A few days after his second Xerox PARC visit, Jobs went to a local industrial design firm, IDEO, and told one of its founders, Dean Hovey, that he wanted a simple single button model that cost $15.


Amazingly, there was some resistance from computer users who claimed it didn't help with entering commands or typing long text. Jobs insisted on making the software work side by side with the keyboard so that each could best do what it was designed for.

Lisa then Macintosh

The Lisa was the first Apple computer to use a mouse, but it's $10,000 price tag in 1983 meant it did not enjoy commercial success. However, the core work had laid the path to a redesign which was launched in 1984 at a quarter of the price - The Macintosh. This was the one which catapulted Apple - and the mouse - into the public spotlight. It's mouse was beige, with a single button and a rubber ball:

apple mouse 400x300

 This is more of an MMDE than a Mandela Effect, but still comes as a surprise to many.