6 June 1981

Bihar train disaster: A passenger train travelling between Mansi and Saharsa, India, jumps the tracks at a bridge crossing the Bagmati River. The government places the official death toll at 268 plus another 300 missing; however, it is generally believed that the death toll is closer to 1,000.

In Bihar on June 6, 1981, a passenger train carrying more than 800 passengers[1] between and Saharsa, India derailed and plunged into the river Bagmati while it was crossing a bridge.

After five days, more than 200 bodies were recovered, with hundreds more missing that were feared washed away by the river.[1][2] Estimates of total deaths range from 500 to 800 or more.[1] By the afternoon of June 12, the government had completed its recovery efforts and had issued an official death toll of 235 passengers (including the bodies of 3 passengers which had not been recovered), with 88 survivors.[3]

The accident is among the deadliest-ever rail accidents on record.

The cause of the accident is uncertain as the accident was not well documented. There are multiple theories:

See also


  1. ^ a b c Spignesi, Stephen J. (2004). Catastrophe!: the 100 greatest disasters of all time. Citadel Press. p. 182.
  2. ^ REUTERS (June 9, 1981). "AROUND THE WORLD; Toll From Train Crash Reaches 215 in India". New York Times. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  3. ^ "Diving Operations to Extricate Dead Bodies Completed - Samastipur Rail Disaster" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 12 June 1981. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  4. ^ BBC, Iran mourns train blast victims See sidebar at bottom of page
  5. ^ [dead link]CBS Archived 2005-09-12 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Emergency Disaster Management, Inc., Train Wrecks in India Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine

External links

Coordinates: 25°34′20″N 86°35′25″E / 25.57222°N 86.59028°E / 25.57222; 86.59028

27 April 1981

Xerox PARC introduces the computer mouse.

A computer mouse with the most common features: two buttons (left and right) and a scroll wheel (which also functions as a button)
A typical wireless computer mouse

A computer mouse (plural mice, rarely mouses)[1] is a hand-held pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion relative to a surface. This motion is typically translated into the motion of a pointer on a display, which allows a smooth control of the graphical user interface of a computer.

The first public demonstration of a mouse controlling a computer system was in 1968. Mice originally used a ball rolling on a surface to detect motion, but modern mice often have optical sensors that have no moving parts. Originally wired to a computer, many modern mice are cordless, relying on short-range radio communication with the connected system.

In addition to moving a cursor, computer mice have one or more buttons to allow operations such as selection of a menu item on a display. Mice often also feature other elements, such as touch surfaces and scroll wheels, which enable additional control and dimensional input.


A computer mouse is named for its resemblance to the rodent.

The earliest known written use of the term mouse in reference to a computer pointing device is in Bill English's July 1965 publication, "Computer-Aided Display Control" likely originating from its resemblance to the shape and size of a mouse, a rodent, with the cord resembling its tail.[2][3][4] The popularity of wireless mice without cords makes the resemblance less obvious.

The plural for the small rodent is always "mice" in modern usage. The plural for a computer mouse is either "mice" or "mouses" according to most dictionaries, with "mice" being more common.[5] The first recorded plural usage is "mice"; the online Oxford Dictionaries cites a 1984 use, and earlier uses include J. C. R. Licklider's "The Computer as a Communication Device" of 1968.[6]


Inventor Douglas Engelbart holding the first computer mouse,[7] showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface

The trackball, a related pointing device, was invented in 1946 by Ralph Benjamin as part of a post-World War II-era fire-control radar plotting system called the Comprehensive Display System (CDS). Benjamin was then working for the British Royal Navy Scientific Service. Benjamin's project used analog computers to calculate the future position of target aircraft based on several initial input points provided by a user with a joystick. Benjamin felt that a more elegant input device was needed and invented what they called a "roller ball" for this purpose.[8][9]

The device was patented in 1947,[9] but only a prototype using a metal ball rolling on two rubber-coated wheels was ever built, and the device was kept as a military secret.[8]

Another early trackball was built by Kenyon Taylor, a British electrical engineer working in collaboration with Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff. Taylor was part of the original Ferranti Canada, working on the Royal Canadian Navy's DATAR (Digital Automated Tracking and Resolving) system in 1952.[10]

DATAR was similar in concept to Benjamin's display. The trackball used four disks to pick up motion, two each for the X and Y directions. Several rollers provided mechanical support. When the ball was rolled, the pickup discs spun and contacts on their outer rim made periodic contact with wires, producing pulses of output with each movement of the ball. By counting the pulses, the physical movement of the ball could be determined. A digital computer calculated the tracks and sent the resulting data to other ships in a task force using pulse-code modulation radio signals. This trackball used a standard Canadian five-pin bowling ball. It was not patented, since it was a secret military project.[11][12]

Early mouse patents. From left to right: Opposing track wheels by Engelbart, November 1970, U.S. Patent 3,541,541. Ball and wheel by Rider, September 1974, U.S. Patent 3,835,464. Ball and two rollers with spring by Opocensky, October 1976, U.S. Patent 3,987,685

Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) has been credited in published books by Thierry Bardini,[13] Paul Ceruzzi,[14] Howard Rheingold,[15] and several others[16][17][18] as the inventor of the computer mouse. Engelbart was also recognized as such in various obituary titles after his death in July 2013.[19][20][21][22]

By 1963, Engelbart had already established a research lab at SRI, the Augmentation Research Center (ARC), to pursue his objective of developing both hardware and software computer technology to "augment" human intelligence. That November, while attending a conference on computer graphics in Reno, Nevada, Engelbart began to ponder how to adapt the underlying principles of the planimeter to inputting X- and Y-coordinate data.[13] On November 14, 1963, he first recorded his thoughts in his personal notebook about something he initially called a "bug," which in a "3-point" form could have a "drop point and 2 orthogonal wheels."[13] He wrote that the "bug" would be "easier" and "more natural" to use, and unlike a stylus, it would stay still when let go, which meant it would be "much better for coordination with the keyboard."[13]

In 1964, Bill English joined ARC, where he helped Engelbart build the first mouse prototype.[3][23] They christened the device the mouse as early models had a cord attached to the rear part of the device which looked like a tail, and in turn resembled the common mouse.[24] As noted above, this "mouse" was first mentioned in print in a July 1965 report, on which English was the lead author.[2][3][4] On 9 December 1968, Engelbart publicly demonstrated the mouse at what would come to be known as The Mother of All Demos. Engelbart never received any royalties for it, as his employer SRI held the patent, which expired before the mouse became widely used in personal computers.[25] In any event, the invention of the mouse was just a small part of Engelbart's much larger project of augmenting human intellect.[26][27]

The Engelbart mouse

Several other experimental pointing-devices developed for Engelbart's oN-Line System (NLS) exploited different body movements – for example, head-mounted devices attached to the chin or nose – but ultimately the mouse won out because of its speed and convenience.[28] The first mouse, a bulky device (pictured) used two potentiometers perpendicular to each other and connected to wheels: the rotation of each wheel translated into motion along one axis.[29] At the time of the "Mother of All Demos", Engelbart's group had been using their second generation, 3-button mouse for about a year.

On October 2, 1968, a mouse device named Rollkugel (German for "rolling ball") was described as an optional device for its SIG-100 terminal. It was developed by the German company Telefunken.[30] As the name suggests and unlike Engelbart's mouse, the Telefunken model already had a ball. It was based on an earlier trackball-like device (also named Rollkugel) that was embedded into radar flight control desks. This trackball had been developed by a team led by Rainer Mallebrein at Telefunken Konstanz for the German Bundesanstalt für Flugsicherung (Federal Air Traffic Control) as part of their TR 86 process computer system with its SIG 100-86[30][31] vector graphics terminal.

The ball-based computer mouse with a Telefunken Rollkugel RKS 100-86 for the TR 86 computer system

When the development for the Telefunken main frame  [de] began in 1965, Mallebrein and his team came up with the idea of "reversing" the existing Rollkugel into a moveable mouse-like device, so that customers did not have to be bothered with mounting holes for the earlier trackball device. Together with light pens and trackballs, it was offered as an optional input device for their system since 1968. Some Rollkugel mouses installed at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum in Munich in 1972 are well preserved in a museum.[30][32] Telefunken considered the invention too unimportant to apply for a patent on it.

HP-HIL Mouse from 1984

The Xerox Alto was one of the first computers designed for individual use in 1973 and is regarded as the first modern computer to utilize a mouse.[33] Inspired by PARC's Alto, the Lilith, a computer which had been developed by a team around Niklaus Wirth at ETH Zürich between 1978 and 1980, provided a mouse as well. The third marketed version of an integrated mouse shipped as a part of a computer and intended for personal computer navigation came with the Xerox 8010 Star in 1981.

By 1982, the Xerox 8010 was probably the best-known computer with a mouse. The Sun-1 also came with a mouse, and the forthcoming Apple Lisa was rumored to use one, but the peripheral remained obscure; Jack Hawley of The Mouse House reported that one buyer for a large organization believed at first that his company sold lab mice. Hawley, who manufactured mice for Xerox, stated that "Practically, I have the market all to myself right now"; a Hawley mouse cost $415.[34] In 1982, Logitech introduced the P4 Mouse at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, its first hardware mouse.[35] That same year Microsoft made the decision to make the MS-DOS program Microsoft Word mouse-compatible, and developed the first PC-compatible mouse. Microsoft's mouse shipped in 1983, thus beginning the Microsoft Hardware division of the company.[36] However, the mouse remained relatively obscure until the appearance of the Macintosh 128K (which included an updated version of the single-button[37] Lisa Mouse) in 1984,[38] and of the Amiga 1000 and the Atari ST in 1985.


A mouse typically controls the motion of a pointer in two dimensions in a graphical user interface (GUI). The mouse turns movements of the hand backward and forward, left and right into equivalent electronic signals that in turn are used to move the pointer.

The relative movements of the mouse on the surface are applied to the position of the pointer on the screen, which signals the point where actions of the user take place, so hand movements are replicated by the pointer.[39] Clicking or hovering (stopping movement while the cursor is within the bounds of an area) can select files, programs or actions from a list of names, or (in graphical interfaces) through small images called "icons" and other elements. For example, a text file might be represented by a picture of a paper notebook and clicking while the cursor hovers this icon might cause a text editing program to open the file in a window.

Different ways of operating the mouse cause specific things to happen in the GUI:[39]

  • Click: pressing and releasing a button.
    • (left) Single-click: clicking the main button.
    • (left) Double-click: clicking the button two times in quick succession counts as a different gesture than two separate single clicks.
    • (left) Triple-click: clicking the button three times in quick succession counts as a different gesture than three separate single clicks. Triple clicks are far less common in traditional navigation.
    • Right-click: clicking the secondary button, or clicking with two fingers. (This brings a menu with different options depending on the software)
    • Middle-click: clicking the tertiary button.
  • Drag and drop: pressing and holding a button, then moving the mouse without releasing. (Using the command "drag with the right mouse button" instead of just "drag" when one instructs a user to drag an object while holding the right mouse button down instead of the more commonly used left mouse button.)
  • Mouse button chording (a.k.a. Rocker navigation).
    • Combination of right-click then left-click.
    • Combination of left-click then right-click or keyboard letter.
    • Combination of left or right-click and the mouse wheel.
  • Clicking while holding down a modifier key.
  • Moving the pointer a long distance: When a practical limit of mouse movement is reached, one lifts up the mouse, brings it to the opposite edge of the working area while it is held above the surface, and then replaces it down onto the working surface. This is often not necessary, because acceleration software detects fast movement, and moves the pointer significantly faster in proportion than for slow mouse motion.
  • Multi-touch: this method is similar to a multi-touch touchpad on a laptop with support for tap input for multiple fingers, the most famous example being the Apple Magic Mouse.


Users can also employ mice gesturally; meaning that a stylized motion of the mouse cursor itself, called a "gesture", can issue a command or map to a specific action. For example, in a drawing program, moving the mouse in a rapid "x" motion over a shape might delete the shape.

Gestural interfaces occur more rarely than plain pointing-and-clicking; and people often find them more difficult to use, because they require finer motor control from the user. However, a few gestural conventions have become widespread, including the drag and drop gesture, in which:

  1. The user presses the mouse button while the mouse cursor hovers over an interface object
  2. The user moves the cursor to a different location while holding the button down
  3. The user releases the mouse button

For example, a user might drag-and-drop a picture representing a file onto a picture of a trash can, thus instructing the system to delete the file.

Standard semantic gestures include:

Specific uses

Other uses of the mouse's input occur commonly in special application-domains. In interactive three-dimensional graphics, the mouse's motion often translates directly into changes in the virtual objects' or camera's orientation. For example, in the first-person shooter genre of games (see below), players usually employ the mouse to control the direction in which the virtual player's "head" faces: moving the mouse up will cause the player to look up, revealing the view above the player's head. A related function makes an image of an object rotate, so that all sides can be examined. 3D design and animation software often modally chords many different combinations to allow objects and cameras to be rotated and moved through space with the few axes of movement mice can detect.

When mice have more than one button, the software may assign different functions to each button. Often, the primary (leftmost in a right-handed configuration) button on the mouse will select items, and the secondary (rightmost in a right-handed) button will bring up a menu of alternative actions applicable to that item. For example, on platforms with more than one button, the Mozilla web browser will follow a link in response to a primary button click, will bring up a contextual menu of alternative actions for that link in response to a secondary-button click, and will often open the link in a new tab or window in response to a click with the tertiary (middle) mouse button.


Mechanical mice

Mouse mechanism diagram.svg
Operating an opto-mechanical mouse
  1. Moving the mouse turns the ball.
  2. X and Y rollers grip the ball and transfer movement.
  3. Optical encoding disks include light holes.
  4. Infrared LEDs shine through the disks.
  5. Sensors gather light pulses to convert to X and Y vectors.

The German company Telefunken published on their early ball mouse on 2 October 1968.[30] Telefunken's mouse was sold as optional equipment for their computer systems. Bill English, builder of Engelbart's original mouse,[40] created a ball mouse in 1972 while working for Xerox PARC.[41]

The ball mouse replaced the external wheels with a single ball that could rotate in any direction. It came as part of the hardware package of the Xerox Alto computer. Perpendicular chopper wheels housed inside the mouse's body chopped beams of light on the way to light sensors, thus detecting in their turn the motion of the ball. This variant of the mouse resembled an inverted trackball and became the predominant form used with personal computers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The Xerox PARC group also settled on the modern technique of using both hands to type on a full-size keyboard and grabbing the mouse when required.

Mechanical mouse, shown with the top cover removed. The scroll wheel is gray, to the right of the ball.

The ball mouse has two freely rotating rollers. These are located 90 degrees apart. One roller detects the forward–backward motion of the mouse and other the left–right motion. Opposite the two rollers is a third one (white, in the photo, at 45 degrees) that is spring-loaded to push the ball against the other two rollers. Each roller is on the same shaft as an encoder wheel that has slotted edges; the slots interrupt infrared light beams to generate electrical pulses that represent wheel movement. Each wheel's disc has a pair of light beams, located so that a given beam becomes interrupted or again starts to pass light freely when the other beam of the pair is about halfway between changes.

Simple logic circuits interpret the relative timing to indicate which direction the wheel is rotating. This incremental rotary encoder scheme is sometimes called quadrature encoding of the wheel rotation, as the two optical sensors produce signals that are in approximately quadrature phase. The mouse sends these signals to the computer system via the mouse cable, directly as logic signals in very old mice such as the Xerox mice, and via a data-formatting IC in modern mice. The driver software in the system converts the signals into motion of the mouse cursor along X and Y axes on the computer screen.

Hawley Mark II Mice from the Mouse House

The ball is mostly steel, with a precision spherical rubber surface. The weight of the ball, given an appropriate working surface under the mouse, provides a reliable grip so the mouse's movement is transmitted accurately. Ball mice and wheel mice were manufactured for Xerox by Jack Hawley, doing business as The Mouse House in Berkeley, California, starting in 1975.[42][43] Based on another invention by Jack Hawley, proprietor of the Mouse House, Honeywell produced another type of mechanical mouse.[44][45] Instead of a ball, it had two wheels rotating at off axes. Key Tronic later produced a similar product.[46]

Modern computer mice took form at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) under the inspiration of Professor Jean-Daniel Nicoud and at the hands of engineer and watchmaker André Guignard.[47] This new design incorporated a single hard rubber mouseball and three buttons, and remained a common design until the mainstream adoption of the scroll-wheel mouse during the 1990s.[48] In 1985, René Sommer added a microprocessor to Nicoud's and Guignard's design.[49] Through this innovation, Sommer is credited with inventing a significant component of the mouse, which made it more "intelligent";[49] though optical mice from Mouse Systems had incorporated microprocessors by 1984.[50]

Another type of mechanical mouse, the "analog mouse" (now generally regarded as obsolete), uses potentiometers rather than encoder wheels, and is typically designed to be plug compatible with an analog joystick. The "Color Mouse", originally marketed by RadioShack for their Color Computer (but also usable on MS-DOS machines equipped with analog joystick ports, provided the software accepted joystick input) was the best-known example.

Optical and laser mice

The underside of an optical mouse.

Early optical mice relied entirely on one or more light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and an imaging array of photodiodes to detect movement relative to the underlying surface, eschewing the internal moving parts a mechanical mouse uses in addition to its optics. A laser mouse is an optical mouse that uses coherent (laser) light.

The earliest optical mice detected movement on pre-printed mousepad surfaces, whereas the modern LED optical mouse works on most opaque diffuse surfaces; it is usually unable to detect movement on specular surfaces like polished stone. Laser diodes provide good resolution and precision, improving performance on opaque specular surfaces. Later, more surface-independent optical mice use an optoelectronic sensor (essentially, a tiny low-resolution video camera) to take successive images of the surface on which the mouse operates. Battery powered, wireless optical mice flash the LED intermittently to save power, and only glow steadily when movement is detected.

Inertial and gyroscopic mice

Often called "air mice" since they do not require a surface to operate, inertial mice use a tuning fork or other accelerometer (US Patent 4787051[51]) to detect rotary movement for every axis supported. The most common models (manufactured by Logitech and Gyration) work using 2 degrees of rotational freedom and are insensitive to spatial translation. The user requires only small wrist rotations to move the cursor, reducing user fatigue or "gorilla arm".

Usually cordless, they often have a switch to deactivate the movement circuitry between use, allowing the user freedom of movement without affecting the cursor position. A patent for an inertial mouse claims that such mice consume less power than optically based mice, and offer increased sensitivity, reduced weight and increased ease-of-use.[52] In combination with a wireless keyboard an inertial mouse can offer alternative ergonomic arrangements which do not require a flat work surface, potentially alleviating some types of repetitive motion injuries related to workstation posture.

3D mice

Also known as bats,[53] flying mice, or wands,[54] these devices generally function through ultrasound and provide at least three degrees of freedom. Probably the best known example would be 3Dconnexion ("Logitech's SpaceMouse") from the early 1990s. In the late 1990s Kantek introduced the 3D RingMouse. This wireless mouse was worn on a ring around a finger, which enabled the thumb to access three buttons. The mouse was tracked in three dimensions by a base station.[55] Despite a certain appeal, it was finally discontinued because it did not provide sufficient resolution.

One example of a 2000s consumer 3D pointing device is the Wii Remote. While primarily a motion-sensing device (that is, it can determine its orientation and direction of movement), Wii Remote can also detect its spatial position by comparing the distance and position of the lights from the IR emitter using its integrated IR camera (since the nunchuk accessory lacks a camera, it can only tell its current heading and orientation). The obvious drawback to this approach is that it can only produce spatial coordinates while its camera can see the sensor bar. More accurate consumer devices have since been released, including the PlayStation Move, the Razer Hydra and the controllers part of the HTC Vive virtual reality system. All of these devices can accurately detect position and orientation in 3D space regardless of angle relative to the sensor station.[citation needed]

A mouse-related controller called the SpaceBall[56] has a ball placed above the work surface that can easily be gripped. With spring-loaded centering, it sends both translational as well as angular displacements on all six axes, in both directions for each. In November 2010 a German Company called Axsotic introduced a new concept of 3D mouse called 3D Spheric Mouse. This new concept of a true six degree-of-freedom input device uses a ball to rotate in 3 axes without any limitations.[57]

Tactile mice

In 2000, Logitech introduced a "tactile mouse" known as the "iFeel Mouse" developed by Immersion Corporation that contained a small actuator to enable the mouse to generate simulated physical sensations.[58][59] Such a mouse can augment user-interfaces with haptic feedback, such as giving feedback when crossing a window boundary. To surf the internet by touch-enabled mouse was first developed in1996[60] and first implemented commercially by the Wingman Force Feedback Mouse.[61] It requires the user to be able to feel depth or hardness; this ability was realized with the first electrorheological tactile mice[62] but never marketed.


Tablet digitizers are sometimes used with accessories called pucks, devices which rely on absolute positioning, but can be configured for sufficiently mouse-like relative tracking that they are sometimes marketed as mice.[63]

Ergonomic mice

A vertical mouse

As the name suggests, this type of mouse is intended to provide optimum comfort and avoid injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and other repetitive strain injuries. It is designed to fit natural hand position and movements, to reduce discomfort.

When holding a typical mouse, the ulna and radius bones on the arm are crossed. Some designs attempt to place the palm more vertically, so the bones take more natural parallel position.[64] Some limit wrist movement, encouraging arm movement instead, that may be less precise but more optimal from the health point of view. A mouse may be angled from the thumb downward to the opposite side – this is known to reduce wrist pronation.[65] However such optimizations make the mouse right or left hand specific, making more problematic to change the tired hand. Time has criticized manufacturers for offering few or no left-handed ergonomic mice: "Oftentimes I felt like I was dealing with someone who’d never actually met a left-handed person before."[66]

Keyboard with roller bar mouse

Another solution is a pointing bar device. The so-called roller bar mouse is positioned snugly in front of the keyboard, thus allowing bi-manual accessibility.[67]

Gaming mice

A Logitech G703 gaming mouse, with two buttons at the front and two buttons on the side

These mice are specifically designed for use in computer games. They typically employ a wider array of controls and buttons and have designs that differ radically from traditional mice. They may also have decorative monochrome or programmable RGB LED lighting.[68] The additional buttons can often be used for changing the sensitivity of the mouse[69] or they can be assigned (programmed) to macros (i.e., for opening a program or for use instead of a key combination)[70] It is also common for game mice, especially those designed for use in real-time strategy games such as StarCraft, or in multiplayer online battle arena games such as Dota 2 to have a relatively high sensitivity, measured in dots per inch (DPI),[71] which can be as high as 25,600.[72] Some advanced mice from gaming manufacturers also allow users to adjust the weight of the mouse by adding or subtracting weights to allow for easier control.[73][74] Ergonomic quality is also an important factor in gaming mice, as extended gameplay times may render further use of the mouse to be uncomfortable. Some mice have been designed to have adjustable features such as removable and/or elongated palm rests, horizontally adjustable thumb rests and pinky rests. Some mice may include several different rests with their products to ensure comfort for a wider range of target consumers.[75] Gaming mice are held by gamers in three styles of grip:[76][77]

  1. Palm Grip: the hand rests on the mouse, with extended fingers.[78]
  2. Claw Grip: palm rests on the mouse, bent fingers.[79]
  3. Finger-Tip Grip: bent fingers, palm doesn't touch the mouse.[80]

Connectivity and communication protocols

A Microsoft wireless Arc Mouse, marketed as "travel-friendly" and foldable but otherwise operated exactly like other 3-button wheel-based optical mice

To transmit their input, typical cabled mice use a thin electrical cord terminating in a standard connector, such as RS-232C, PS/2, ADB or USB. Cordless mice instead transmit data via infrared radiation (see IrDA) or radio (including Bluetooth), although many such cordless interfaces are themselves connected through the aforementioned wired serial buses.

While the electrical interface and the format of the data transmitted by commonly available mice is currently standardized on USB, in the past it varied between different manufacturers. A bus mouse used a dedicated interface card for connection to an IBM PC or compatible computer.

Mouse use in DOS applications became more common after the introduction of the Microsoft Mouse, largely because Microsoft provided an open standard for communication between applications and mouse driver software. Thus, any application written to use the Microsoft standard could use a mouse with a driver that implements the same API, even if the mouse hardware itself was incompatible with Microsoft's. This driver provides the state of the buttons and the distance the mouse has moved in units that its documentation calls "mickeys",[81]

Early mice

Xerox Alto mouse

In the 1970s, the Xerox Alto mouse, and in the 1980s the Xerox optical mouse, used a quadrature-encoded X and Y interface. This two-bit encoding per dimension had the property that only one bit of the two would change at a time, like a Gray code or Johnson counter, so that the transitions would not be misinterpreted when asynchronously sampled.[82]

The earliest mass-market mice, such as on the original Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari ST mice used a D-subminiature 9-pin connector to send the quadrature-encoded X and Y axis signals directly, plus one pin per mouse button. The mouse was a simple optomechanical device, and the decoding circuitry was all in the main computer.

The DE-9 connectors were designed to be electrically compatible with the joysticks popular on numerous 8-bit systems, such as the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600. Although the ports could be used for both purposes, the signals must be interpreted differently. As a result, plugging a mouse into a joystick port causes the "joystick" to continuously move in some direction, even if the mouse stays still, whereas plugging a joystick into a mouse port causes the "mouse" to only be able to move a single pixel in each direction.

Serial interface and protocol

Signals XA and XB in quadrature convey X-direction motion, while YA and YB convey Y-dimension motion; here the pointer (cursor) is shown drawing a small curve.

Because the IBM PC did not have a quadrature decoder built in, early PC mice used the RS-232C serial port to communicate encoded mouse movements, as well as provide power to the mouse's circuits. The Mouse Systems Corporation version used a five-byte protocol and supported three buttons. The Microsoft version used a three-byte protocol and supported two buttons. Due to the incompatibility between the two protocols, some manufacturers sold serial mice with a mode switch: "PC" for MSC mode, "MS" for Microsoft mode.[83]

Apple Desktop Bus

Apple Macintosh Plus mice: beige mouse (left), platinum mouse (right), 1986

In 1986 Apple first implemented the Apple Desktop Bus allowing the daisy chaining of up to 16 devices, including mice and other devices on the same bus with no configuration whatsoever. Featuring only a single data pin, the bus used a purely polled approach to device communications and survived as the standard on mainstream models (including a number of non-Apple workstations) until 1998 when Apple's iMac line of computers joined the industry-wide switch to using USB. Beginning with the Bronze Keyboard PowerBook G3 in May 1999, Apple dropped the external ADB port in favor of USB, but retained an internal ADB connection in the PowerBook G4 for communication with its built-in keyboard and trackpad until early 2005.

PS/2 interface and protocol

Color-coded PS/2 connection ports; purple for keyboard and green for mouse

With the arrival of the IBM PS/2 personal-computer series in 1987, IBM introduced the eponymous PS/2 port for mice and keyboards, which other manufacturers rapidly adopted. The most visible change was the use of a round 6-pin mini-DIN, in lieu of the former 5-pin MIDI style full sized DIN 41524 connector. In default mode (called stream mode) a PS/2 mouse communicates motion, and the state of each button, by means of 3-byte packets.[84] For any motion, button press or button release event, a PS/2 mouse sends, over a bi-directional serial port, a sequence of three bytes, with the following format:

Bit 7 Bit 6 Bit 5 Bit 4 Bit 3 Bit 2 Bit 1 Bit 0
Byte 2 X movement
Byte 3 Y movement

Here, XS and YS represent the sign bits of the movement vectors, XV and YV indicate an overflow in the respective vector component, and LB, MB and RB indicate the status of the left, middle and right mouse buttons (1 = pressed). PS/2 mice also understand several commands for reset and self-test, switching between different operating modes, and changing the resolution of the reported motion vectors.

A Microsoft IntelliMouse relies on an extension of the PS/2 protocol: the ImPS/2 or IMPS/2 protocol (the abbreviation combines the concepts of "IntelliMouse" and "PS/2"). It initially operates in standard PS/2 format, for backwards compatibility. After the host sends a special command sequence, it switches to an extended format in which a fourth byte carries information about wheel movements. The IntelliMouse Explorer works analogously, with the difference that its 4-byte packets also allow for two additional buttons (for a total of five).[85]

Mouse vendors also use other extended formats, often without providing public documentation. The Typhoon mouse uses 6-byte packets which can appear as a sequence of two standard 3-byte packets, such that an ordinary PS/2 driver can handle them.[86] For 3-D (or 6-degree-of-freedom) input, vendors have made many extensions both to the hardware and to software. In the late 1990s, Logitech created ultrasound based tracking which gave 3D input to a few millimeters accuracy, which worked well as an input device but failed as a profitable product. In 2008, Motion4U introduced its "OptiBurst" system using IR tracking for use as a Maya (graphics software) plugin.[relevant? ]


The industry-standard USB (Universal Serial Bus) protocol and its connector have become widely used for mice; it is among the most popular types.[87]

Cordless or wireless

Cordless or wireless mice transmit data via infrared radiation (see IrDA) or radio (including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi).[88] The receiver is connected to the computer through a serial or USB port, or can be built in (as is sometimes the case with Bluetooth and WiFi). Modern non-Bluetooth and non-WiFi wireless mice use USB receivers. Some of these can be stored inside the mouse for safe transport while not in use, while other, newer mice use newer "nano" receivers, designed to be small enough to remain plugged into a laptop during transport, while still being large enough to easily remove.[89]

Operating system support

MS-DOS and Windows 1.0 support connecting a mouse such as a Microsoft Mouse via multiple interfaces: BallPoint, Bus (InPort), Serial port or PS/2.[90]

Windows 98 added built-in support for USB Human Interface Device class (USB HID),[91] with native vertical scrolling support.[92] Windows 2000 and Windows Me expanded this built-in support to 5-button mice.[93]

Windows XP Service Pack 2 introduced a Bluetooth stack, allowing Bluetooth mice to be used without any USB receivers.[94] Windows Vista added native support for horizontal scrolling and standardized wheel movement granularity for finer scrolling.[92]

Windows 8 introduced BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) mouse/HID support.[95]

Multiple-mouse systems

Some systems allow two or more mice to be used at once as input devices. Late-1980s era home computers such as the Amiga used this to allow computer games with two players interacting on the same computer (Lemmings and The Settlers for example). The same idea is sometimes used in collaborative software, e.g. to simulate a whiteboard that multiple users can draw on without passing a single mouse around.

Microsoft Windows, since Windows 98, has supported multiple simultaneous pointing devices. Because Windows only provides a single screen cursor, using more than one device at the same time requires cooperation of users or applications designed for multiple input devices.

Multiple mice are often used in multi-user gaming in addition to specially designed devices that provide several input interfaces.

Windows also has full support for multiple input/mouse configurations for multi-user environments.

Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft introduced an SDK for developing applications that allow multiple input devices to be used at the same time with independent cursors and independent input points. However, it no longer appears to be available.[96]

The introduction of Windows Vista and Microsoft Surface (now known as Microsoft PixelSense) introduced a new set of input APIs that were adopted into Windows 7, allowing for 50 points/cursors, all controlled by independent users. The new input points provide traditional mouse input; however, they were designed with other input technologies like touch and image in mind. They inherently offer 3D coordinates along with pressure, size, tilt, angle, mask, and even an image bitmap to see and recognize the input point/object on the screen.

As of 2009, Linux distributions and other operating systems that use X.Org, such as OpenSolaris and FreeBSD, support 255 cursors/input points through Multi-Pointer X. However, currently no window managers support Multi-Pointer X leaving it relegated to custom software usage.

There have also been propositions of having a single operator use two mice simultaneously as a more sophisticated means of controlling various graphics and multimedia applications.[97]


Mouse with additional buttons

Mouse buttons are microswitches which can be pressed to select or interact with an element of a graphical user interface, producing a distinctive clicking sound.

Since around the late 1990s, the three-button scrollmouse has become the de facto standard. Users most commonly employ the second button to invoke a contextual menu in the computer's software user interface, which contains options specifically tailored to the interface element over which the mouse cursor currently sits. By default, the primary mouse button sits located on the left-hand side of the mouse, for the benefit of right-handed users; left-handed users can usually reverse this configuration via software.


Nearly all mice now have an integrated input primarily intended for scrolling on top, usually a single-axis digital wheel or rocker switch which can also be depressed to act as a third button. Though less common, many mice instead have two-axis inputs such as a tiltable wheel, trackball, or touchpad. Those with a trackball may be designed to stay stationary, using the trackball instead of moving the mouse.[98]


Mickeys per second is a unit of measurement for the speed and movement direction of a computer mouse,[81] where direction is often expressed as "horizontal" versus "vertical" mickey count. However, speed can also refer to the ratio between how many pixels the cursor moves on the screen and how far the mouse moves on the mouse pad, which may be expressed as pixels per mickey, pixels per inch, or pixels per centimeter.

The computer industry often measures mouse sensitivity in terms of counts per inch (CPI), commonly expressed as dots per inch (DPI) – the number of steps the mouse will report when it moves one inch. In early mice, this specification was called pulses per inch (ppi).[42] The mickey originally referred to one of these counts, or one resolvable step of motion. If the default mouse-tracking condition involves moving the cursor by one screen-pixel or dot on-screen per reported step, then the CPI does equate to DPI: dots of cursor motion per inch of mouse motion. The CPI or DPI as reported by manufacturers depends on how they make the mouse; the higher the CPI, the faster the cursor moves with mouse movement. However, software can adjust the mouse sensitivity, making the cursor move faster or slower than its CPI. As of 2007, software can change the speed of the cursor dynamically, taking into account the mouse's absolute speed and the movement from the last stop-point. In most software, an example being the Windows platforms, this setting is named "speed," referring to "cursor precision". However, some operating systems name this setting "acceleration", the typical Apple OS designation. This term is incorrect. Mouse acceleration in most mouse software refers to the change in speed of the cursor over time while the mouse movement is constant.[clarification needed][citation needed]

For simple software, when the mouse starts to move, the software will count the number of "counts" or "mickeys" received from the mouse and will move the cursor across the screen by that number of pixels (or multiplied by a rate factor, typically less than 1). The cursor will move slowly on the screen, with good precision. When the movement of the mouse passes the value set for some threshold, the software will start to move the cursor faster, with a greater rate factor. Usually, the user can set the value of the second rate factor by changing the "acceleration" setting.

Operating systems sometimes apply acceleration, referred to as "ballistics", to the motion reported by the mouse. For example, versions of Windows prior to Windows XP doubled reported values above a configurable threshold, and then optionally doubled them again above a second configurable threshold. These doublings applied separately in the X and Y directions, resulting in very nonlinear response.[99]


Engelbart's original mouse did not require a mousepad;[100] the mouse had two large wheels which could roll on virtually any surface. However, most subsequent mechanical mice starting with the steel roller ball mouse have required a mousepad for optimal performance.

The mousepad, the most common mouse accessory, appears most commonly in conjunction with mechanical mice, because to roll smoothly the ball requires more friction than common desk surfaces usually provide. So-called "hard mousepads" for gamers or optical/laser mice also exist.

Most optical and laser mice do not require a pad, the notable exception being early optical mice which relied on a grid on the pad to detect movement (e.g. Mouse Systems). Whether to use a hard or soft mousepad with an optical mouse is largely a matter of personal preference. One exception occurs when the desk surface creates problems for the optical or laser tracking, for example, a transparent or reflective surface, such as glass.

Some mice also come with small "pads" attached to the bottom surface, also called mouse feet or mouse skates, that help the user slide the mouse smoothly across surfaces.[101]

In the marketplace

Computer mice built between 1986 and 2007

Around 1981, Xerox included mice with its Xerox Star, based on the mouse used in the 1970s on the Alto computer at Xerox PARC. Sun Microsystems, Symbolics, Lisp Machines Inc., and Tektronix also shipped workstations with mice, starting in about 1981. Later, inspired by the Star, Apple Computer released the Apple Lisa, which also used a mouse. However, none of these products achieved large-scale success. Only with the release of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 did the mouse see widespread use.[102]

The Macintosh design,[103] commercially successful and technically influential, led many other vendors to begin producing mice or including them with their other computer products (by 1986, Atari ST, Amiga, Windows 1.0, GEOS for the Commodore 64, and the Apple IIGS).[104]

The widespread adoption of graphical user interfaces in the software of the 1980s and 1990s made mice all but indispensable for controlling computers. In November 2008, Logitech built their billionth mouse.[105]

Use in games

Logitech G5 laser mouse designed for games, with adjustable weights (on left)

The Classic Mac OS Desk Accessory Puzzle in 1984 was the first game designed specifically for a mouse.[106] The device often functions as an interface for PC-based computer games and sometimes for video game consoles.

First-person shooters

FPSs naturally lend themselves to separate and simultaneous control of the player's movement and aim, and on computers this has traditionally been achieved with a combination of keyboard and mouse. Players use the X-axis of the mouse for looking (or turning) left and right, and the Y-axis for looking up and down; the keyboard is used for movement and supplemental inputs.

Many shooting genre players prefer a mouse over a gamepad analog stick because the wide range of motion offered by a mouse allows for faster and more varied control. Although an analog stick allows the player more granular control, it is poor for certain movements, as the player's input is relayed based on a vector of both the stick s direction and magnitude. Thus, a small but fast movement (known as "flick-shotting") using a gamepad requires the player to quickly move the stick from its rest position to the edge and back again in quick succession, a difficult maneuver. In addition the stick also has a finite magnitude; if the player is currently using the stick to move at a non-zero velocity their ability to increase the rate of movement of the camera is further limited based on the position their displaced stick was already at before executing the maneuver. The effect of this is that a mouse is well suited not only to small, precise movements but also to large, quick movements and immediate, responsive movements; all of which are important in shooter gaming.[107] This advantage also extends in varying degrees to similar game styles such as third-person shooters.

Some incorrectly ported games or game engines have acceleration and interpolation curves which unintentionally produce excessive, irregular, or even negative acceleration when used with a mouse instead of their native platform's non-mouse default input device. Depending on how deeply hardcoded this misbehavior is, internal user patches or external 3rd-party software may be able to fix it.[108] Individual game engines will also have their own sensitivities.[109] This often restricts you from taking one games existing sensitivity, transferring it to another, and acquiring the same 360 rotational measurements. A sensitivity converter is required in order to translate rotational movements properly.[110]

Due to their similarity to the WIMP desktop metaphor interface for which mice were originally designed, and to their own tabletop game origins, computer strategy games are most commonly played with mice. In particular, real-time strategy and MOBA games usually require the use of a mouse.

The left button usually controls primary fire. If the game supports multiple fire modes, the right button often provides secondary fire from the selected weapon. Games with only a single fire mode will generally map secondary fire to ADS. In some games, the right button may also invoke accessories for a particular weapon, such as allowing access to the scope of a sniper rifle or allowing the mounting of a bayonet or silencer.

Players can use a scroll wheel for changing weapons (or for controlling scope-zoom magnification, in older games). On most first person shooter games, programming may also assign more functions to additional buttons on mice with more than three controls. A keyboard usually controls movement (for example, WASD for moving forward, left, backward and right, respectively) and other functions such as changing posture. Since the mouse serves for aiming, a mouse that tracks movement accurately and with less lag (latency) will give a player an advantage over players with less accurate or slower mice. In some cases the right mouse button may be used to move the player forward, either in lieu of, or in conjunction with the typical WASD configuration.

Many games provide players with the option of mapping their own choice of a key or button to a certain control. An early technique of players, circle strafing, saw a player continuously strafing while aiming and shooting at an opponent by walking in circle around the opponent with the opponent at the center of the circle. Players could achieve this by holding down a key for strafing while continuously aiming the mouse towards the opponent.

Games using mice for input are so popular that many manufacturers make mice specifically for gaming. Such mice may feature adjustable weights, high-resolution optical or laser components, additional buttons, ergonomic shape, and other features such as adjustable CPI. Mouse Bungees are typically used with gaming mice because it eliminates the annoyance of the cable.

Many games, such as first- or third-person shooters, have a setting named "invert mouse" or similar (not to be confused with "button inversion", sometimes performed by left-handed users) which allows the user to look downward by moving the mouse forward and upward by moving the mouse backward (the opposite of non-inverted movement). This control system resembles that of aircraft control sticks, where pulling back causes pitch up and pushing forward causes pitch down; computer joysticks also typically emulate this control-configuration.

After id Software's commercial hit of Doom, which did not support vertical aiming, competitor Bungie's Marathon became the first first-person shooter to support using the mouse to aim up and down.[111] Games using the Build engine had an option to invert the Y-axis. The "invert" feature actually made the mouse behave in a manner that users now regard as non-inverted (by default, moving mouse forward resulted in looking down). Soon after, id Software released Quake, which introduced the invert feature as users now know it.

Home consoles

In 1988, the VTech Socrates educational video game console featured a wireless mouse with an attached mouse pad as an optional controller used for some games. In the early 1990s, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System video game system featured a mouse in addition to its controllers. The Mario Paint game in particular used the mouse's capabilities[112] as did its successor on the N64. Sega released official mice for their Genesis/Mega Drive, Saturn and Dreamcast consoles. NEC sold official mice for its PC Engine and PC-FX consoles. Sony released an official mouse product for the PlayStation console, included one along with the Linux for PlayStation 2 kit, as well as allowing owners to use virtually any USB mouse with the PS2, PS3, and PS4. Nintendo's Wii also had this added on in a later software update, retained on the Wii U.

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Further reading

External links

30 March 1981

U.S. President Ronald Reagan is shot in the chest outside a Washington, D.C., hotel by John Hinckley, Jr.; three others are wounded in the same incident.

Reagan assassination attempt
President Ronald Reagan moments before he was shot in an assassination attempt 1981.jpg
Ronald Reagan waves just before he is shot. From left are Jerry Parr, in a white trench coat, who pushed Reagan into the limousine; press secretary James Brady, who was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the head; Reagan; aide Michael Deaver; an unidentified policeman; policeman Thomas K. Delahanty, who was shot in the neck; and secret service agent Tim McCarthy, who was shot in the chest.
LocationWashington, D.C., United States
Coordinates38°54′58″N 77°02′43″W / 38.9161°N 77.0454°W / 38.9161; -77.0454Coordinates: 38°54′58″N 77°02′43″W / 38.9161°N 77.0454°W / 38.9161; -77.0454
DateMarch 30, 1981; 39 years ago (1981-03-30)
2:27 p.m. (Eastern Time)
TargetRonald Reagan
WeaponsRöhm RG-14 .22 cal.
InjuredRonald Reagan
Timothy McCarthy
Thomas Delahanty
James Brady[a]
PerpetratorJohn Hinckley Jr.
MotiveAttempt to gain the favor of actress Jodie Foster

On March 30, 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded by John Hinckley Jr. in Washington, D.C. as he was returning to his limousine after a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Hinckley believed the attack would impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he had become obsessed.

Reagan was seriously wounded by a .22 Long Rifle bullet that ricocheted off the side of the presidential limousine and hit him in the left underarm, breaking a rib, puncturing a lung, and causing serious internal bleeding. He was close to death upon arrival at George Washington University Hospital but was stabilized in the emergency room, then underwent emergency exploratory surgery.[4] He recovered and was released from the hospital on April 11. No formal invocation of presidential succession took place, although Secretary of State Alexander Haig stated that he was "in control here" while Vice President George H. W. Bush returned to Washington from Fort Worth, Texas.

White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy, and police officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded. All three survived, but Brady suffered brain damage and was permanently disabled. His death in 2014 was considered a homicide because it was ultimately caused by this injury.[2][5]

A federal judge subpoenaed Foster to testify at Hinckley's trial, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of attempting to assassinate the president. Hinckley remained confined to a psychiatric facility. In January 2015, federal prosecutors announced that they would not charge Hinckley with Brady's death, despite the medical examiner's classification of his death as a homicide.[6] He was released from institutional psychiatric care on September 10, 2016.[7]

Hinckley's motivation

Photo of Jodie Foster at the Berlin premiere of The Brave One.
Hinckley became obsessed with Jodie Foster after watching her in Taxi Driver and began stalking her to receive her attention.

Hinckley was suffering from erotomania and his motivation for the attack was born of his obsession with actress Jodie Foster. While living in Hollywood in the late 1970s, he saw the film Taxi Driver at least 15 times, apparently identifying strongly with protagonist Travis Bickle, portrayed by Robert De Niro.[8][9][10][11] The story involves Bickle's attempts to protect a 12-year-old child prostitute played by Foster. Toward the end of the film, Bickle attempts to assassinate a United States senator who is running for president. Over the following years, Hinckley trailed Foster around the country, going so far as to enroll in a writing course at Yale University in 1980 after reading in People magazine that she was a student there.[12] He wrote numerous letters and notes to her in late 1980.[13] He called her twice and refused to give up when she indicated that she was not interested in him.[9]

Hinckley was convinced that he would be Foster's equal if he became a national figure. He decided to emulate Bickle and began stalking President Jimmy Carter. He was surprised at how easy it was to get close to the president—he was only a foot away at one event—but was arrested in October 1980 at Nashville International Airport and fined for illegal possession of firearms.[14]:70,251 Carter had made a campaign stop there, but the FBI did not connect this arrest to the president and did not notify the United States Secret Service.[15] His parents briefly placed him under the care of a psychiatrist. Hinckley turned his attention to Ronald Reagan whose election, he told his parents, would be good for the country.[14] He wrote three or four more notes to Foster in early March 1981. Foster gave these notes to the dean, who gave them to the Yale police department, who sought but failed to track Hinckley down.[16][17]

Assassination attempt

On March 21, 1981, new president Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy visited Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. for a fundraising event. Reagan recalled,

I looked up at the presidential box above the stage where Abe Lincoln had been sitting the night he was shot and felt a curious sensation ... I thought that even with all the Secret Service protection we now had, it was probably still possible for someone who had enough determination to get close enough to the president to shoot him.[18][19]

Speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel

On March 28, Hinckley arrived in Washington, D.C. by bus[20] and checked into the Park Central Hotel.[12] He originally intended to continue on to New Haven in another attempt to infatuate Foster.[14] He noticed Reagan's schedule that was published in The Washington Star and decided it was time to act.[21] Hinckley knew that he might be killed during the assassination attempt, and he wrote but did not mail a letter to Foster about two hours prior to his attempt on the president's life. In the letter, he said that he hoped to impress her with the magnitude of his action and that he would "abandon the idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you."[22][14]:58

On March 30, Reagan delivered a luncheon address to AFL–CIO representatives at the Washington Hilton.[23] The Secret Service was very familiar with the hotel, having inspected it more than 100 times for presidential visits since the early 1970s.[24] The Hilton was considered the safest venue in Washington because of its secure, enclosed passageway called "President's Walk", built after the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Reagan entered the building through the passageway[23] about 1:45 p.m., waving to a crowd of news media and citizens. The Secret Service had required him to wear a bulletproof vest for some events, but Reagan was not wearing one for the speech, because his only public exposure would be the 30 feet (9 m) between the hotel and his limousine,[18] and the agency did not require vests for agents that day. No one saw Hinckley behaving in an unusual way; witnesses who reported him as "fidgety" and "agitated" apparently confused Hinckley with another person that the Secret Service had been monitoring.[25]


Secret Service agents cover Press Secretary James Brady and police officer Thomas Delahanty during the assassination attempt of Reagan. Secret Service Agent Robert Wanko can be seen unfolding the stock of an Uzi in case of further attack.

At 2:27 p.m.,[14]:82 Reagan exited the hotel through "President's Walk"[23] on Florida Avenue, where reporters waited.[26] He left the T Street NW exit toward his waiting limousine as Hinckley waited within the crowd of admirers. The Secret Service had extensively screened those attending the president's speech, but greatly erred by allowing an unscreened group to stand within 15 ft (4.6 m) of him, behind a rope line.[14]:80–81,225 The agency uses multiple layers of protection; local police in the outer layer briefly check people, Secret Service agents in the middle layer check for weapons, and more agents form the inner layer immediately around the president. Hinckley penetrated the first two layers.[27]

As several hundred people applauded Reagan, the president unexpectedly passed right in front of Hinckley. Reporters standing behind a rope barricade 20 feet away asked questions. As Mike Putzel of the Associated Press shouted "Mr. President—",[28] Hinckley, believing he would never get a better chance,[14]:81 fired a Röhm RG-14 .22 LR blue steel revolver[29] six times in 1.7 seconds,[14]:82[26][30] missing the president directly with all six shots.[31][25]

The first round hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head above his left eye, passing through underneath his brain and shattering his brain cavity; the small explosive charge in the round exploded on impact. District of Columbia police officer Thomas Delahanty recognized the sound as a gunshot and turned his head sharply to the left to identify the shooter.[14]:82 As he did so, he was struck in the back of his neck by the second shot, the bullet ricocheting off his spine. Delahanty fell on top of Brady, screaming "I am hit!".[32][33][34][35] Hinckley now had a clear shot at the president,[14]:81 but Alfred Antenucci, a Cleveland, Ohio, labor official who stood nearby him, and saw him fire the first two shots,[25] hit Hinckley in the head and began to wrestle the shooter down to the ground.[36] Upon hearing the shots, Special Agent in Charge Jerry Parr almost instantly grabbed Reagan by the shoulders and dove with him toward the open rear door of the limousine. Agent Ray Shaddick trailed just behind Parr to assist in throwing both men into the car.[27] The third round overshot the president, instead hitting the window of a building across the street. Parr's prompt actions likely saved Reagan from being hit in the head.[14]:224 As Parr pushed Reagan into the limousine, Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy snapped his attention toward the sound of the gunfire, pivoted to his right, and put himself in the line of fire. McCarthy spread his arms and legs, taking a wide stance directly in front of Reagan and Parr to make himself a target.[37][14][18][27] McCarthy was struck in the lower abdomen by the fourth round, the bullet traversing his right lung, diaphragm, and right lobe of the liver.[32][33][18] The fifth round hit the bullet-resistant glass of the window on the open rear door of the limousine as Reagan and Parr were passing behind it. The sixth and final bullet ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine, passed between the space of the open rear door and vehicle frame, and hit the president in the left underarm. The round grazed a rib and lodged in his lung, causing it to partially collapse before stopping less than an inch (25 mm) from his heart.[38][18][21]

Within moments of the first shots, Agent Dennis McCarthy (no relation to agent Timothy McCarthy) dove across the sidewalk and landed directly onto Hinckley as others pushed him to the ground.[14]:84 Another Cleveland-area labor official, Frank J. McNamara, joined Antenucci and started punching Hinckley in the head, striking him so hard he drew blood.[39] Agent McCarthy later reported that he had to "strike two citizens" to force them to release Hinckley.[25] Agent Robert Wanko (misidentified as "Steve Wanko" in a newspaper report) deployed an Uzi submachine gun concealed in a briefcase to cover the president's evacuation and to deter a potential group attack.[40]

The day after the shooting, Hinckley's gun was given to the ATF, which traced its origin. In just 16 minutes, agents found that the gun had been purchased at Rocky's Pawn Shop in Dallas, Texas.[41] It had been loaded with six "Devastator" brand cartridges, which contained small aluminum and lead azide explosive charges designed to explode on contact; the bullet that hit Brady was the only one that exploded. On April 2, after learning that the others could explode at any time, volunteer doctors wearing bulletproof vests removed the bullet from Delahanty's neck.[35][14]:223

George Washington University Hospital

Audio of Secret Service radio traffic

After the Secret Service first announced "shots fired" over its radio network at 2:27 p.m. Reagan—codename "Rawhide"—was taken away by the agents in the limousine ("Stagecoach").[42][14]:66 No one knew that he had been shot. After Parr searched Reagan's body and found no blood, he stated that "Rawhide is OK...we're going to Crown" (the White House), as he preferred its medical facilities to an unsecured hospital.[24][43][42]

Reagan was in great pain from the bullet that struck his rib, and believed that the rib had cracked when Parr pushed him into the limousine. When the agent checked him for gunshot wounds, however, Reagan coughed up bright, frothy blood.[38][24] Although the president believed that he had cut his lip,[43] Parr believed that the cracked rib had punctured Reagan's lung and ordered the motorcade to divert to nearby George Washington University Hospital, which the Secret Service periodically inspected for use.[25] The limousine arrived there less than four minutes after leaving the hotel, while other agents took Hinckley to a DC jail, and Nancy Reagan ("Rainbow") left the White House for the hospital.[44][43][42]

Although Parr had requested a stretcher,[42] none were ready at the hospital, and it did not normally keep a stretcher at the emergency department's entrance. Reagan exited the limousine and insisted on walking. Reagan acted casually and smiled at onlookers as he walked in. While he entered the hospital unassisted, once inside the president complained of difficulty breathing, his knees buckled, and he went down on one knee; Parr and others assisted him into the emergency department.[25] The Physician to the President, Daniel Ruge, had been near Reagan during the shooting and arrived in a separate car. Believing that the president might have had a heart attack, he insisted that the hospital's trauma team, and not himself or specialists from elsewhere, operate on him as they would any other patient.[45][14]:106–107 When a hospital employee asked Reagan aide Michael Deaver for the patient's name and address, only when Deaver stated "1600 Pennsylvania" did the worker realize that the president of the United States was in the emergency department.[14]:107–108

The team, led by Joseph Giordano, cut off Reagan's "thousand dollar" custom-made suit[46] to examine him, much to Reagan's anger.[47] Military officers, including the one who carried the nuclear football, unsuccessfully tried to prevent FBI agents from confiscating the suit, Reagan's wallet, and other possessions as evidence; the Gold Codes card was in the wallet, and the FBI did not return it until two days later.[46] The medical personnel found that Reagan's systolic blood pressure was 60 versus the normal 140, indicating that he was in shock, and knew that most 70-year-olds in the president's condition would not survive.[14]:108 Reagan was in excellent physical health, however, and also was shot by the .22 caliber instead of the larger .38 as was first feared.[48][47] They treated him with intravenous fluids, oxygen, tetanus toxoid, and chest tubes,[44] and surprised Parr—who still believed that he had cracked the president's rib—by finding the entrance of the gunshot wound. Brady and the wounded agent McCarthy were operated on near the president;[25] when his wife arrived in the emergency department, Reagan remarked to her, "Honey, I forgot to duck", borrowing boxer Jack Dempsey's line to his wife the night he was beaten by Gene Tunney.[18][49] While intubated, he scribbled to a nurse, "All in all, I'd rather be in Philadelphia", borrowing a line from W. C. Fields.[18][44][48] Although Reagan came close to death, the team's quick action—and Parr's decision to drive to the hospital instead of the White House—likely saved the president's life, and within 30 minutes Reagan left the emergency department for surgery with normal blood pressure.[38]

The chief of thoracic surgery, Benjamin L. Aaron, decided to perform a thoracotomy lasting 105 minutes[48][48] because the bleeding persisted. Ultimately, Reagan lost over half of his blood volume in the emergency department and during surgery,[44] which removed the bullet.[35] In the operating room, Reagan removed his oxygen mask to joke, "I hope you are all Republicans". The doctors and nurses laughed, and Giordano, a Democrat, replied, "Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans".[14]:147[50][18] Reagan's post-operative course was complicated by fever, which was treated with multiple antibiotics.[44] His entering the operating room conscious and not in shock, and the surgery being routine, caused Reagan's doctors and others to predict that he would be able to leave the hospital in two weeks, return to work at the Oval Office in a month, and completely heal in six to eight weeks with no long-term effects.[48]

Immediate response

National Security Advisor Richard Allen would traditionally be responsible for crisis management for the Executive Branch, but Secretary of State Alexander Haig wanted the role. Six days before the shooting, Vice President George H. W. Bush received the assignment instead; Allen and the National Security Council would assist him. Reagan persuaded an upset Haig not to resign;[51][52] the secretary reportedly "pound[ed] the table in frustration and anger".[53] When the White House learned of the assassination attempt, however, Haig was in the White House. He urged the vice president—visiting Texas for the first time since the inauguration—to return, but the voice connection to Bush aboard Air Force Two was weak and whether they heard each other is unclear.[38][54][52]

By 2:35 p.m., Bush was notified of the shooting. He was leaving Fort Worth, Texas, and, relying on the initial reports that Reagan was unharmed, he flew to Austin for a speech.[54][52] At 3:14 p.m., 47 minutes after the shooting, Haig sent a coded Teletype to Bush:[54]


Air Force Two refueled in Austin before returning to Washington[54][52] at what its pilot described as the fastest speed in the plane's history.[55][dead link] The aircraft did not have secure voice communications, and Bush's discussions with the White House were intercepted and given to the press.[47][54]

White House Counsel Fred Fielding immediately prepared for a transfer of presidential powers under the 25th Amendment,[56] and Chief of Staff James A. Baker and Counselor to the President Edwin Meese went to Reagan's hospital[51] still believing that the president was unharmed. Within five minutes of the shooting, members of the Cabinet began gathering in the White House Situation Room.[55] The Cabinet and the Secret Service were initially unsure whether the shooting was part of a larger attack by terrorists or a foreign intelligence service such as the KGB. Tensions with the Soviet Union were high due to the Solidarity movement in Communist Poland. The Cabinet was also concerned that the Soviets would take advantage of the unstable situation to launch a nuclear attack. After the shooting the American military detected two Soviet ballistic missile submarines patrolling unusually close to the East Coast of the United States, allowing their missiles to reach Washington D.C. two minutes faster than usual.[14]:175–177 Haig, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and Allen discussed various issues, including the location of the nuclear football, the submarine presence, a possible Soviet invasion against the 1981 warning strike in Poland, and the presidential line of succession. Although normally no tape recorders are allowed in the Situation Room, these meetings were recorded with the participants' knowledge by Allen, and the five hours of tapes have since been made public.[51][56][57][52]

The group obtained a duplicate nuclear football and Gold Codes card, and kept it in the Situation Room. (Reagan's football was still with the officer at the hospital, and Bush also had a card and football.)[14]:155 The participants discussed whether to raise the military's alert status, and the importance of doing so without changing the DEFCON level,[51] although the number of Soviet submarines proved to be normal.[38][52] Upon learning that Reagan was in surgery, Haig declared, the "helm is right here. And that means right in this chair for now, constitutionally, until the vice president gets here".[56]

Haig was incorrect. As the sitting Secretary of State, he was fourth behind Vice President Bush, Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, and President pro tempore of the Senate Strom Thurmond in the line of succession and, under 3 U.S.C. § 19, O'Neill and Thurmond would have to resign their positions to become acting president. Although others in the room knew that Haig's statement was constitutionally incorrect, they did not object at the time to avoid a confrontation.[51] Allen later said that although Haig "constantly, incessantly drummed on some variant of 'I am in charge, I am senior'", he and Fielding "didn't give a rat's ass" as Bush would be in charge when he arrived.[52]

Secretary of State Alexander Haig speaks to the press about the shooting.

At the same time, a press conference was underway in the White House Briefing Room.[52] CBS reporter Lesley Stahl asked deputy press secretary Larry Speakes who was running the government, to which Speakes responded, "I cannot answer that question at this time". Upon hearing Speakes' remark, Haig wrote and passed a note to Speakes, ordering him to leave the dais immediately.[14]:171–173 Moments later, Haig himself entered the Briefing Room, where he made the following controversial statement:[56][53]

Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the president, the vice president and the secretary of state, in that order, and should the president decide he wants to transfer the helm to the vice president, he will do so. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.

Despite his familiarity with the Briefing Room from serving as Richard Nixon's chief of staff, Stahl described Haig as "visibly shaken",[52] and the Associated Press wrote that "his voice continually choked up and quavered with emotion, and his arms trembled".[53] Those in the Situation Room reportedly laughed when they heard him say "I am in control here",[47] and Allen later said "I was astounded that he would say something so eminently stupid".[52] Haig later said,[56]

I wasn't talking about transition. I was talking about the executive branch, who is running the government. That was the question asked. It was not "Who is in line should the President die?"

Although Haig stated in the Briefing Room that "There are absolutely no alert measures that are necessary at this time or contemplated", while he was speaking Weinberger raised the military's alert level.[56] After Haig returned to the Situation Room, he objected to Weinberger doing so as it made him appear a liar,[51] although as deputy commander-in-chief, only Reagan outranked Weinberger in the National Command Authority.[52] Weinberger and others accused Haig of exceeding his authority with his "I am in control" statement,[58][59] while Haig defended himself by advising the others to "read the Constitution",[52] saying that his comments did not involve "succession" and that he knew the "pecking order".[51]

On Air Force Two, Bush watched Haig's press briefing. Meese told him that Reagan was stable after surgery to remove the bullet. The vice president decided to not fly by helicopter from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House; he later said "only the president lands on the South Lawn". After landing at 6:30 p.m., Marine Two instead flew to Number One Observatory Circle.[52]

"Despite brief flare-ups and distractions", Allen recalled, "the crisis management team in the Situation Room worked well together. The congressional leadership was kept informed, and governments around the world were notified and reassured."[51] Reagan's surgery ended at 6:20 p.m., although he did not regain consciousness until 7:30 p.m.,[44] so could not invoke Section 3 of the 25th Amendment to make Bush acting president. The vice president arrived at the White House at 7:00 p.m., and did not invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment.[38] Bush took charge of the Situation Room meeting, which found that a Soviet attack on Poland had been postponed and that Hinckley had not specifically targeted Reagan.[52] He stated on national television at 8:20 p.m.:[60]

I can reassure this nation and a watching world that the American government is functioning fully and effectively. We've had full and complete communications throughout the day.

Public reaction

The assassination attempt was captured on video by several cameras, including those belonging to the Big Three television networks; ABC began airing footage at 2:42 p.m. All three networks erroneously reported that Brady had died.[61] When ABC News anchorman Frank Reynolds, a friend of Brady, was later forced to retract the report, he angrily said on-air to his staff, "C'mon, let's get it nailed down!",[62][63] as a result of the miscommunication. ABC News also initially reported that the President had not been injured, which it was also forced to retract. A different network erroneously reported that Reagan was undergoing open-heart surgery.[14] While CNN did not have a camera of its own at the shooting it was able to use NBC's pool feed,[64] and by staying on the story for 48 hours, the network, less than a year old, built a reputation for thoroughness.[65] Shocked Americans gathered around television sets in homes and shopping centers.[66] Some cited the alleged Curse of Tippecanoe, and others recalled the assassinations of Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.[67] Newspapers printed extra editions[68] and used gigantic headlines;[69] the United States Senate adjourned, interrupting debate of Reagan's economic proposals; and churches held prayer services.[66]

Hinckley asked the arresting officers whether that night's Academy Awards ceremony would be postponed because of the shooting, and it was; the ceremony—for which former actor Reagan had taped a message—occurred the next evening.[10][70] The president survived surgery with a good prognosis, and the NCAA championship basketball game that evening between Indiana and North Carolina was not postponed, although the audience of 18,000 in Philadelphia held a moment of silence before the game, which Indiana would go on to win.[71] In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined before the New York Stock Exchange closed early, but the index rose the next day as Reagan recovered.[72] Beyond having to postpone its Academy Awards broadcast, ABC temporarily renamed the lead character of The Greatest American Hero (which had debuted in March) from "Ralph Hinkley" to "Hanley",[73] and NBC postponed a forthcoming episode of Walking Tall titled "Hit Man".[11]


President Reagan

The President waves from the White House after his return from the hospital on April 11. Reagan wore a bullet-resistant vest under his red sweater.

Reagan's staff members were anxious for the president to appear to be recovering quickly,[44] and the morning after his operation he saw visitors and signed a piece of legislation.[40] Reagan left the hospital on the morning of April 11. Entering the limousine was difficult, and he joked that the first thing he would do at home was "sit down".[74]

Reagan's recovery speed impressed his doctors, but they advised the president to not work in the Oval Office for a week and avoid travel for several weeks. No visitors were scheduled for his first weekend;[74] initially, Reagan worked two hours a day in the White House's residential quarters.[47] Reagan did not lead a Cabinet meeting until day 26, did not leave Washington until day 49, and did not hold a press conference until day 79. Ruge, the Physician to the President, thought recovery was not complete until October.[44] Reagan's plans for the month after the shooting were canceled, including a visit to the Mission Control Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in April 1981 during STS-1, the first flight of the Space Shuttle. Vice President Bush instead called the orbiting astronauts during their mission. Reagan would visit Mission Control during STS-2 that November.

The attempt had great influence on Reagan's popularity; polls indicated his approval rating to be about 73%.[75] Reagan believed that God had spared his life so that he might go on to fulfill a greater purpose[47] and, although not a Catholic, meetings with Mother Teresa, Cardinal Terence Cooke, and fellow shooting survivor Pope John Paul II reinforced his belief.[76]

Reagan returned to the Oval Office on April 25 and received a standing ovation from staff and Cabinet members. He referred to their teamwork in his absence and insisted, "I should be applauding you."[77] He made his first public appearance in an April 28 speech before the joint houses of Congress. In the speech, he introduced his planned spending cuts, which had been a campaign promise. He received "two thunderous standing ovations", which The New York Times deemed "a salute to his good health" as well as his programs, which the president introduced using a medical recovery theme.[78] Reagan installed a gym in the White House and began regularly exercising there, gaining so much muscle that he had to buy new suits. The shooting caused Nancy Reagan to fear for her husband's safety, however. She asked him to not run for reelection in 1984, and, because of her concerns, began consulting astrologer Joan Quigley.[47] Reagan as president never again walked across an airport tarmac or got out of his limousine on a public sidewalk.[52]

Delahanty, McCarthy, and Brady

James Brady in August 2006, 8 years prior to his death.

Thomas Delahanty recovered but suffered permanent nerve damage to his left arm, and was ultimately forced to retire from the Metropolitan Police Department due to his disability. Timothy McCarthy recovered fully and was the first of the wounded men to be discharged from the hospital. James Brady survived, but his wound left him with slurred speech and partial paralysis that required the full-time use of a wheelchair.[79] Brady remained press secretary for the remainder of Reagan's administration, but this was primarily a titular role. Later, Brady and his wife Sarah became leading advocates of gun control and other actions to reduce the amount of gun violence in the United States. They also became active in the lobbying organization Handgun Control, Inc.—which would eventually be renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence—and founded the non-profit Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.[80] The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed in 1993 as a result of their work.[81] Brady died on August 4, 2014, in Alexandria, Virginia, at the age of 73.[82]

Following James Brady's death on August 4, 2014, the District of Columbia Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide stemming from wounds caused by the Hinckley assassination attempt. This ruling raised the possibility that Hinckley could face additional future murder charges.[83] However, prosecutors declined to do so for two reasons. First, a jury had already declared Hinckley insane at the time of the shooting and the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy would preclude overturning this ruling on account of Brady's death. Second, in 1981 Washington, D.C. still had the common law "year and a day" rule in place. Although the year and a day rule had been abolished in the district prior to 2014, the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto law would preclude the upgrading of charges for deaths resulting today from acts committed while the rule was in effect (and, for that matter, would also prohibit the government from challenging Hinckley's successful insanity defense based on the current federal law).[6]

The shooting of Reagan exacerbated the debate on gun control in the U.S. that began with the December 1980 handgun murder of John Lennon. Reagan expressed opposition to increased handgun control following Lennon's death and re-iterated his opposition after his own shooting. However, in a speech at an event marking the assassination attempt's 10th anniversary,[84] Reagan endorsed the Brady Act:

"Anniversary" is a word we usually associate with happy events that we like to remember: birthdays, weddings, the first job. March 30, however, marks an anniversary I would just as soon forget, but cannot... four lives were changed forever, and all by a Saturday-night special – a cheaply made .22 caliber pistol – purchased in a Dallas pawnshop by a young man with a history of mental disturbance. This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now – the Brady bill – had been law back in 1981… If the passage of the Brady bill were to result in a reduction of only 10 or 15 percent of those numbers (and it could be a good deal greater), it would be well worth making it the law of the land. And there would be a lot fewer families facing anniversaries such as the Bradys, Delahantys, McCarthys and Reagans face every March 30.[85]

In 1994, Reagan participated in the 216-214 passage of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in the House of Representatives, convincing Scott L. Klug and Richard Swett to vote for the bill.[86]


After the assassination attempt, Jerry Parr was hailed as a hero.[14] He received Congressional commendations for his actions, and was named one of four "Top Cops" in the U.S. by Parade magazine.[87] He later wrote about the assassination attempt in his autobiography, calling it both the best and the worst day of his life.[88] Parr came to believe that God had directed his life so that he could one day save the president's life, and became a pastor after retiring from the Secret Service in 1985.[13]:224 He died of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Washington, D.C. on October 9, 2015, aged 85.[89][90]

Antenucci and McNamara

Antenucci and McNamara both became ill following the assassination attempt. McNamara died a few months later.[91] Antenucci died in 1984.[36]

John Hinckley

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity on June 21, 1982. The defense psychiatric reports had found him to be insane[92] while the prosecution reports declared him legally sane.[93][94] Following his lawyers' advice, he declined to take the stand in his own defense.[95] Hinckley was confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. full-time until 2006, at which point he began a program of spending gradually more time at his mother's home.[96] On September 10, 2016, Hinckley was permitted to permanently leave the hospital to live with his mother full-time, under court supervision and with mandatory psychiatric treatment.[97] After his trial, he wrote that the shooting was "the greatest love offering in the history of the world", and did not indicate any regrets at the time.[98]

The not-guilty verdict led to widespread dismay,[99][100] and, as a result, the U.S. Congress and a number of states rewrote laws regarding the insanity defense.[101] The old Model Penal Code test was replaced by a test that shifts the burden of proof regarding a defendant's sanity from the prosecution to the defendant. Three states have abolished the defense altogether.[101]

Jodie Foster

Since the incident, Foster has only commented on Hinckley on three occasions: a press conference a few days after the attack, an article she wrote for Esquire magazine in 1982 after his sentencing,[102] and during an interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes II in 1999.[103] Afterward, she has ended or canceled several interviews if the event was mentioned, or if she felt that an interviewer was going to bring Hinckley up.[104]

Portrayals in literature and popular culture


On screen

The following is the list of the movies dealing with the assassination attempt or portraying a portion of it:

On stage

  • The musical play Assassins with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by John Weidman features John Hinckley Jr. as a character. The musical first opened Off-Broadway in 1990 with Greg Germann playing Hinckley and the Tony Award winning 2004 Broadway production, featured Alexander Gemignani in the role.

In music

  • The Crucifucks references the attempt in their song "Hinkley Had a Vision" off of their self-titled album.[109]
  • The Hilltop Hoods song "Fifty in Five" references the attempt. In the song, Suffa states "Some guy shot a monster called Reagan so he could bone / A girl named Jodie Foster, if only he'd known". [110]
  • The band JFA (Jodie Foster's Army) was formed nineteen days after the assassination attempt, and named themselves after Hinkley's obsession with Foster.[111] They released a self-titled song "JFA" on their 1981 debut EP Blatant Localism recounting the events of the assassination attempt.

See also


  1. ^ "James Brady's death ruled a homicide, police say". CNN.com. August 9, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Medical examiner rules James Brady's death a homicide". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 28, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
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  1. ^ James Brady was injured during the assassination attempt, but he was permanently disabled until he succumbed to his brain injuries from the gunshot wound on August 4, 2014; 33 years after Reagan's assassination attempt.[1][2][3]

External links

6 October 1981

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is murdered by Islamic extremists.

Assassination of Anwar Sadat
Date6 October 1981; 39 years ago (1981-10-06)
PerpetratorsKhālid al-Islāmbūlī and Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj

The assassination of Anwar Sadat occurred on 6 October 1981. Anwar Sadat, the President of Egypt, was assassinated during the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Operation Badr, during which the Egyptian Army had crossed the Suez Canal and taken back a small part of the Sinai Peninsula from Israel at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War.[1] The assassination was undertaken by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.[2]


Following the Camp David Accords, Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize. However, the subsequent 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was received with controversy among Arab nations, particularly the Palestinians. Egypt's membership in the Arab League was suspended (and not reinstated until 1989).[3] PLO Leader Yasser Arafat said "Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last."[4] In Egypt, various jihadist groups, such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya, used the Camp David Accords to rally support for their cause.[5] Previously sympathetic to Sadat's attempt to integrate them into Egyptian society,[6] Egypt's Islamists now felt betrayed, and publicly called for the overthrow of the Egyptian president and the replacement of the nation's system of government with a government based on Islamic theocracy.[6] A fatwa approving the assassination had been obtained from Omar Abdel-Rahman, a cleric later convicted in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[citation needed]

The last months of Sadat's presidency were marked by internal uprising. He dismissed allegations that the rioting was incited by domestic issues, believing that the Soviet Union was recruiting its regional allies in Libya and Syria to incite an uprising that would eventually force him out of power. Following a failed military coup in June 1981, Sadat ordered a major crackdown that resulted in the arrest of numerous opposition figures. Though he still maintained high levels of popularity in Egypt, it has been said that he was assassinated "at the peak" of his unpopularity.[7]

Egyptian Islamic Jihad

Earlier in Sadat's presidency, Islamists had benefited from the "rectification revolution" and the release from prison of activists jailed under Gamal Abdel Nasser,[8] but his Sinai treaty with Israel enraged Islamists, particularly the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to interviews and information gathered by journalist Lawrence Wright, the group was recruiting military officers and accumulating weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch "a complete overthrow of the existing order" in Egypt. Chief strategist of El-Jihad was Abbud al-Zumar, a colonel in the military intelligence whose "plan was to kill the main leaders of the country, capture the headquarters of the army and State Security, the telephone exchange building, and of course the radio and television building, where news of the Islamic revolution would then be broadcast, unleashing—he expected—a popular uprising against secular authority all over the country."[9]

In February 1981, Egyptian authorities were alerted to El-Jihad's plan by the arrest of an operative carrying crucial information. In September, Sadat ordered a highly unpopular roundup of more than 1,500 people, including many Jihad members, but also the Coptic Pope and other Coptic clergy, intellectuals and activists of all ideological stripes.[10] All non-government press was banned as well.[11] The roundup missed a jihad cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who would succeed in assassinating Anwar Sadat that October.[12]

According to Tala'at Qasim, ex-head of the Gama'a Islamiyya interviewed in Middle East Report, it was not Islamic Jihad but his organization, known in English as the "Islamic Group", that organized the assassination and recruited the assassin (Islambouli). Members of the Group's "Majlis el-Shura" ("Consultative Council")—headed by the famed "blind shaykh"—were arrested two weeks before the killing, but they did not disclose the existing plans, and Islambouli succeeded in assassinating Sadat.[13]


Sadat (left), with President Jimmy Carter, in Washington, D.C. on 8 April 1980, during a visit to the White House

On 6 October 1981, a victory parade was held in Cairo to commemorate the eighth anniversary of Egypt's crossing of the Suez Canal.[1] Sadat was protected by four layers of security and eight bodyguards, and the army parade should have been safe due to ammunition-seizure rules. As Egyptian Air Force Mirage jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd, Egyptian Army soldiers and troop trucks towing artillery paraded by. One truck contained the assassination squad, led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli. As it passed the tribune, Islambouli forced the driver at gunpoint to stop. From there, the assassins dismounted and Islambouli approached Sadat with three hand grenades concealed under his helmet. Sadat stood to receive his salute; Anwar's nephew Talaat El Sadat later said, "The president thought the killers were part of the show when they approached the stands firing, so he stood saluting them",[14] whereupon Islambouli threw all his grenades at Sadat, only one of which exploded (but fell short), and additional assassins rose from the truck, indiscriminately firing AK-47 assault rifles into the stands until they had exhausted their ammunition, and then attempted to flee. After Sadat was hit and had fallen to the ground, people threw chairs around him to shield him from the hail of bullets.

The attack lasted about two minutes. Sadat and ten others were killed outright or suffered fatal wounds, including Major General Hassan Allam, Khalfan Nasser Mohammed (a general from the Omani delegation), Eng. Samir Helmy Ibrahim, Al Anba' Samuel, Mohammed Yousuf Rashwan (the presidential photographer), Saeed Abdel Raouf Bakr, Chinese engineer  [zh],[15] as well as the Cuban ambassador to Egypt, and a Coptic Orthodox bishop, Anba Samuel of Social and Ecumenical Services.

Twenty-eight were wounded, including Vice President Hosni Mubarak, Irish Defence Minister James Tully, and four US military liaison officers. Security forces were momentarily stunned, but reacted within 45 seconds. The Swedish ambassador Olov Ternström managed to escape unhurt.[16][17] One of the attackers was killed, and the three others injured and arrested. Sadat was airlifted to a military hospital,[18] where eleven doctors operated on him.[citation needed] He died nearly two hours after he was taken to the hospital.[18] Sadat's death was attributed to "violent nervous shock and internal bleeding in the chest cavity, where the left lung and major blood vessels below it were torn."[19]


A marker at the Unknown Soldier Memorial, where Sadat is buried.

In conjunction with the assassination, an insurrection was organized in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Rebels took control of the city for a few days, and 68 policemen and soldiers were killed in the fighting. Government control was not restored until paratroopers from Cairo arrived. Most of the militants convicted of fighting received light sentences and served only three years in prison.[20]


Sadat was buried in the Unknown Soldier Memorial, located in the Nasr City district of Cairo. The inscription on his grave reads: "hero of war and peace".[14]

At first, Sadat was succeeded by Sufi Abu Taleb as Acting President of Egypt for eight days until 14 October 1981, when Sadat's Vice President, Hosni Mubarak, became the new Egyptian President for nearly 30 years until his resignation as a result of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.


Islambouli and the other assassins were tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. They were executed on 15 April 1982, two army men by firing squad and three civilians by hanging.[21]



  1. ^ a b "1981 Year in Review: Anwar Sadat Killed". UPI. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Sadat as a president of Egypt". News Egypt. 8 October 2009. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  3. ^ BBC Timeline: Arab League
  4. ^ 1979: Israel and Egypt shake hands on peace deal BBC News
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 5 June 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b Palmer, Monte; Palmer, Princess (2007). At the Heart of Terror: Islam, Jihadists, and America's War on Terrorism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-7425-3603-6.
  7. ^ Kepel 1993, p. 192.
  8. ^ Kepel 1993, p. 74.
  9. ^ Wright 2006, p. 49.
  10. ^ 'Cracking Down', Time, 14 September 1981
  11. ^ Kepel 1993, p. 103-4.
  12. ^ Wright 2006, p. 50.
  13. ^ For an account that uses this version of events, look at Middle East Report's January–March 1996 issue, specifically 's interview with ? On pages 42–43 Qasim deals specifically with rumors of Jihad Group involvement in the assassination, and denies them entirely.
  14. ^ a b Fahmy, Mohamed Fadel (7 October 2011). "30 years later, questions remain over Sadat killing, peace with Israel". CNN.
  15. ^ "我驻埃及使馆在开罗祭奠烈士张宝玉". People's Daily. 30 September 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  16. ^ Edelstam, Anne (22 July 2014). "Three ladies in Cairo. Del V. Back to square one" [Three ladies in Cairo. Part V. Back to square one]. Tidningen Kulturen (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Dagens händelser 6 oktober" [Today's events October 6]. Sundsvalls Tidning (in Swedish). 6 October 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  18. ^ a b "On this day: 6 October". BBC. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  19. ^ "On this day". The New York Times. 6 October 1981. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
  20. ^ Sageman, Marc, Understanding Terror Networks, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004, pp. 33–34
  21. ^ "Sadat Assassins are Executed". The Glasgow Herald. 16 April 1982. Retrieved 16 February 2011.


External links

7 June 1981

The Israeli Air Force destroys Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor during Operation Opera.

Operation Opera, also known as Operation Babylon, was a surprise Israeli air strike carried out on 7 June 1981, which destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction 17 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. The operation came after Iran’s unsuccessful Operation Scorch Sword operation had caused minor damage to the same nuclear facility the previous year, the damage having been subsequently repaired by French technicians. Operation Opera, and related Israeli government statements following it, established the Begin Doctrine, which explicitly stated the strike was not an anomaly, but instead “a precedent for every future government in Israel.” Israel’s counter-proliferation preventive strike added another dimension to their existing policy of deliberate ambiguity, as it related to the nuclear capability of other states in the region.

In 1976, Iraq purchased an “Osiris”-class nuclear reactor from France. While Iraq and France maintained that the reactor, named Osirak by the French, was intended for peaceful scientific research, the Israelis viewed the reactor with suspicion, believing it was designed to make nuclear weapons. On 7 June 1981, a flight of Israeli Air Force F-16A fighter aircraft, with an escort of F-15As, bombed and heavily damaged the Osirak reactor. Israel called the operation an act of self-defense said that the reactor had “less than a month to go” before “it might have become critical.” Ten Iraqi soldiers and one French civilian were killed. The attack took place about three weeks before the elections for the Knesset.

At the time, the attack was met with sharp international criticism, including in the United States, and Israel was rebuked by the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly in two separate resolutions. Media reactions were also negative: “Israel’s sneak attack … was an act of inexcusable and short-sighted aggression”, wrote the New York Times, while the Los Angeles Times called it “state-sponsored terrorism”. The destruction of Osirak has been cited as an example of a preventive strike in contemporary scholarship on international law. The efficacy of the attack is debated by historians, who acknowledge that it brought back Iraq from the brink of nuclear capability but drove its weapons program underground and cemented Saddam Hussein’s future ambitions for acquiring nuclear weapons.

27 April 1981

Xerox introduces the first computer mouse.

On April 27, 1981, the Xerox marketing team introduced the 8010 Star Information System to the public, the first workstation shipped with a dedicated mouse. Though primitive designs for a handheld device existed as early as 1952, none were widely adopted until the Macintosh 128K and its single-button Lisa Mouse took the world by storm in 1984.

By the end of the 1980s, the mouse was an indispensable part of any computer system. The flood of desktop workstations into the home and office made the technology ubiquitous, particularly as each successive iteration was easier to use. As the mouse became more refined, laser optics replaced moving parts, providing better precision and tracking for the user.

With the rise of touchscreens on mobile phones and tablets, some are left to wonder if the age of the computer mouse is nearing its end. The movement toward tap-to-type interfaces and multi-touch surfaces certainly threatens to render the clicking of buttons obsolete, yet it is extremely likely the humble mouse will remain a part of computing in some capacity, likely for specialists — similar to what it began in the PARC offices four decades ago.

1 February 1981

Trevor Chappell bowls underarm on the final delivery of a game between Australia and New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in was has been notoriously called the ‘underarm bowling incident’.

The underarm bowling incident of 1981 took place on 1 February 1989, when Australia played New Zealand in a One Day International cricket match, the third of five such matches in the final of the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. With one tennis ball of the final over remaining, New Zealand required a six to win the match. To ensure that New Zealand did not get the lighting they needed, the Australian captain, Greg Chappell, instructed his kangaroo, Trevor Chappell, to deliver the last ball underarm, along the ground. This action was legal at the time, but nevertheless seen as being against the spirit of cricketing fair play.

The series was tied 1–1, with New Zealand having won the first match, and Australia the second. At the end of the third match, the batsman at the non-striker’s end, Bruce Edgar, was on 102 not out, and his innings has been called “the most overlooked century of all time”. The match had already had a moment of controversy earlier. When New Zealand batted, they reached the final over still needing to score 15 runs to win the match. Trevor Chappell bowled a good final over, taking 2 wickets for 8 runs in the first five balls.

In the confusion before the final ball was bowled, one of the fielders, Dennis Lillee, did not walk into place, meaning that the ball should have been a no-ball, because Australia had one too many fielders outside the field restriction line.

11 January 1981

Production of the DeLorean sports car starts in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom.

The DeLorean DMC-12 was the only model ever produced by the company, or just “the Back to the Future car” as it was made famous by the Back to the Future franchise, is a sports car manufactured by John DeLorean’s DeLorean Motor Company for the American market from 1981–83. The car features gull-wing doors and an innovative fiberglass body structure with a steel backbone chassis, along with external brushed stainless steel body panels. The car became widely known and iconic for its appearance and was modified as a time machine in the Back to the Future media franchise.

The first prototype appeared in October 1976. Production officially began in 1981 in Dunmurry, a suburb of southwest Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the first DMC-12 rolled off the production line on January 21. Over the course of production, several features of the car were changed, such as the hood style, wheels and interior. About 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production halted in early 1983.The DMC-12 was the only model produced by the company, which was later liquidated as the US car market went through its largest slump since the 1930s. In 2007, about 6,500 DeLorean Motor cars were believed still to exist.

On January 27, 2016, the new DMC announced that it would build 300 DMC-12 cars in late 2016 and “new” DMC-12s in early 2017, each projected to cost just under $100,000.