The First Computer Mouse

There was a time when graphical user interfaces (GUI) were unfathomable and all the work was done using the boring command line operating system. One only needed a keyboard to use the system. However, after the entry of operating systems with graphical user interfaces (GUI), things changed. People started feeling the need for a pointing input device that could help them interact with GUIs in a better way.

About The Inventor

Although there were some experimental devices based on the trackball, the first computer mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart. He was working on a solution to help people solve complex problems for a decade before the invention of the first computer mouse.

Bill English helped him in achieving his goal. He was a colleague of Douglas and made the hardware design for the first mouse. They manage to make a device that could interact with information displays.

The interesting thing is to note is that the original inventors of the mouse received no credit. They applied for a patent in 1967 and were named assignors of SRI. The sad part is that SRI sold the patent to Apple for a huge sum of money and left Douglas Engelbart and Bill English empty-handed.

But what they did made them immortal and their names will be remembered forever as far as computers and particularly computer mice are concerned.

First Computer Mouse

The first mouse was a small part of a large project which started in 1962. The project aimed to augment human intelligence. The first computer mouse was developed in 1964. It has a wooden shell with two metallic wheels perpendicular to each other for motion in different directions.

It also had a simple circuit board and could be used with a graphical user interface. The cord of the mouse was at the front but later this was changed and the cord attached to the back to make it more user-friendly.

Both Douglas Engelbart and Bill English approached NASA and asked NASA to test the invention in 1966. This step was taken to acquire

photo credit: http://gajitz.com
photo credit: http://gajitz.com

funding from NASA to improve their product in the future. With funds from NASA, they conducted many tests on their product. The first workstation and mouse were made soon after, in 1967. This mouse had a plastic shell over a metal base.

Both inventors then went on to publish a paper related to their invention. Douglas also gave a demo of his invention. It was a groundbreaking event which changed the technology scene forever.

The demonstration paved the way for the technological advances of the future. Beside his own mouse, he also demonstrated video conferencing, email, word processing and dynamic file linking.

First Cordless Mouse

The credit for inventing the first cordless mouse goes to David Liddle and Donald Massaro, both former engineers at Xerox PARC. The first cordless mouse shipped in 1984 with the Metaphor computer. It was the first computer to not only come with a cordless mouse but also a cordless keyboard. The first cordless mouse was manufactured by Logitech and used Infrared technology to transmit electronic signals.

As with most infrared devices, it also required a straight line of sight to function properly. This led to its demise. Infrared technology was replaced by radio frequency communication technology which solved this problem with cordless mice. Later, radio frequency was replaced by Bluetooth technology hence, giving users flexibility to move their mouse in the range of 10 meters.

This is how we got the mouse we use today. It went through many evolutionary phases to reach this state. Who knows, how many iterations of the computer mouse we will see in the future.