Blinking Cursor Turns 54, Hardly Anyone Notices


“I remember him [Kiesling] telling me the reason behind the blinking cursor, and it was simple,” Kiesling’s son writes. “He said there was nothing on the screen to let you know where the cursor was in the first place. So he wrote up the code for it so he would know where he was ready to type on the Cathode Ray Tube.”

(Sahra Wells, 54 years ago, a computer programmer fixed a massive bug — and created an existential crisis)

As an marginally interesting aside, this problem raises its ugly head of perplexity again on WIMP systems with large displays. Where’s this §@#? mouse pointer? Various solutions have been suggested and deployed (e.g., on Mac OS the cursor is dramatically enlarged, when you wiggle the mouse violently — this feauture may be thankfully disabled, as it may be highly irritating, as well), but none of them is convincing.


Blinking mouse pointer?

I had only a few customisations to my X environment back in the day - one was to change xterm’s pointer to something I could more readily see.

Of course xeyes is a tool which helps show the pointer position…

My suspicion is that technology led the design - pointers would be 8x8 or 16x16 rather than something more like a point size.

I think more recent Windows had a setting so the Ctrl key (or similar) would animate a concentric surround for the cursor.

But much of the trouble, I will guess, is that software people get younger every year, and young people can see very well indeed.


For Windows 11 (and 10?) there apparently is a PowerToy that will ‘shine’ a spotlight on the mouse pointer location.

I was tapping away on my keyboard when all of a sudden my screens dimmed — except for one tiny disc of light. It turns out I’d accidentally double-pressed Ctrl, which triggers the Find My Mouse feature in Microsoft’s excellent optional PowerToys.

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If you use two instances of xeyes you can triangulate.


Well, I never thought that this eyes widget had a practical use (other than being cute), but there you are! Actually, this is an acceptaple solution to the problem.

But none of them is as eagle-eyed as I am, two meters from the monitor! :slight_smile:

At my age, it creeps down to 2 mm. :slight_smile:
Astigmatism is my problem, so the wide screens
are useless for me. Ben

TIL Don Knuth uses xeyes (but only one of them) [photo of Knuth at his standing desk via HN]

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