Hovey-Kelley and the Mouse

Source: Memo from Dean Hovey to Tom Whitney re: mouse development, 4 June 1980.
Location: Dean Hovey personal papers. Reproduced courtesy of Dean Hovey.

To: Tom Whitney
From: Dean Hovey
Re: Mouse development project
Cc: Bill Lapson, Jerry Manock, Tom Hong

This memo's intent is to establish H/K's perception, to this date, of its involvement with Apple's Mouse development program.


In early January 1980, I discussed the possibility, with Steve Jobs, of H/K working on a small, complete product for Apple. At that time, the Mouse was mentioned as a potential product. After that discussion, H/K began to collect literature and discuss with vendors various possibilities of Mouse design.

Early in April, news surfaced, Lisa would require a Mouse at introduction and a development project was being opened. Tom Hong would be in charge of this project. I discussed with Mr. Hong the possibility of H/K working on the development project. After a minor misunderstanding about the course of the project, Mr. Hong suggested I discuss with Tom Whitney H/K's specific working relationship on the Mouse project.


H/K is interested in the Mouse project for these reasons:

  1. We would like to demonstrate a broader level of technical expertise to Apple. To this point we have only had the opportunity to express our mechanical packaging and industrial design abilities.
  2. The ability to add a manufacturing base to our company would add stability to a potentially volatile consulting business
  3. Individuals at H/K think the Mouse is an exciting, fun product to work on.

Product Specifications/Design Parameters

From the inception, H/K's understanding of the design specs are the following:

  1. Resolution of 1/100 of an inch
  2. Three control buttons would be located on the Mouse
  3. Will not require a special pad to roll on
  4. Inexpensive to manufacture
  5. Reliable and manufacturable

Whitney/Hovey Meeting

The remainder of this memo elaborates on our discussion. I stated the following:

  1. H/K has a Mouse concept which can satisfy the design criteria.
  2. The estimated manufacturing cost is less than $20,000.
  3. The estimated required tooling budget is $50,000.
  4. The estimated cost of design time is $25,000.

Apple's Development Plan

Because a Mouse is an important part of the Lisa concept, a dual development is strategic to Apple.

Another design consultant and H/K would work on the development in parallel on different concepts. Each firm will work independently under the guidance of Bill Lapson.

The first design effort would be to build a breadboard prototype to establish concept feasibility. When both development projects reached this point, the designs would be compared rating advantages and disadvantages. If possible, attractive features of both designs might be integrated into a final design direction.

Terms of the Design Development

Tom Whitney asked how much it would cost to build this first prototype. I estimated between $7,000 and $12,000. At this point I received a go-ahead on the development project. My assumption was these funds were authorized, and were to be billed under our already established contractual relationship.

It was also agreed H/K might have the opportunity to manufacture Mice for Apple. Why?

  1. H/K would like to manufacture a product for reasons already stated.
  2. H/K might provide Apple a second source of Mouse manufacture.
  3. H/K might show more enthusiasm and speed for the development program, knowing it may have the opportunity to manufacture the product.

Finally, regardless of whose design proved most attractive, H/K would probably work on the Industrial Design and potentially still have the opportunity to manufacture Mice for Apple.

Document created on 27 June 2000;