When Was The Computer Mouse Invented?

The mouse is one of the most important input devices connected to a computer. It is used for pointing and clicking. You might be familiar with the computer mouse but have you ever thought when the computer mouse was invented and who invented it? Read on and find the answer to these questions.

Background

What led to the invention of computer mouse? It all began with the trackball, which was invented in 1946 by Ralph Benjamin. It was developed for a military project in the post World War 2 era. In those days, analog computers were used for tracking the future position of the fighter planes. For providing input, joysticks were used. Benjamin wants a better device so he invented a roller ball. It was a top secret because the military was using it.

The DATAR. Photo Credit: computerhistory.org
The DATAR Photo Credit: computerhistory.org

Another trackball prototype, the DATAR, saw the light of the day in 1952. Developed by electrical engineer Kenyon Taylor, Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff, it borrowed the idea from the first trackball prototype. It had four disks, two of them used for x-axis motion and while the other two for y-axis motion.

When Was The Computer Mouse Invented?

The first computer mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart, the Director of the Automation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute in California. He invented the mouse in 1964. The first computer mouse had a wooden shell, a circuit board and two metallic wheels. The cursor moved when the metallic wheels came into contact with the surface.

Other Experiments

A few months before the demo of the first mouse in 1968, German company Telefunken launched a rolling ball device called Rollkugel. After a few years, the team at Telefunken decided to turn the design upside down and turn it into a mouse. It was similar to the trackball devices used in flight control systems. Apple and Microsoft came up with their own models in 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Technological Evolution

mouse
mechanical mouse

Originally known as the X-Y position indicator and was used for indicating the position of the x and y coordinate on the screen. In 1972, the design was improved and the metallic wheels replaced the ball, which laid the foundation of the mechanical or ball mouse as we know today. It took a decade for the first mouse to be used with a computer. It was in 1973 when the first computer mouse was connected to the Xerox Alto computer system.

1980 was a breakthrough year for the computer mouse industry and technology. The first optical mouse was developed. Optical mice are designed for precision, therefore, eliminating the ball and using LEDs (light emitting diodes). As with many new products, they were expensive. With the passage of time, the prices came down which paved the way for wider adoption.

Modern Era

The computer mouse for specific purposes, such as gaming and graphic designing, gained popularity after 2000. Sophisticated gaming mice with more than a dozen programmable buttons are common accessories for gamers these days. The foot mouse was developed to facilitate disabled people in using computers. The 3D mouse is the latest addition to the list, which is a step up from conventional laser mouse because it gives you the capability to move on three axes.

It has also become a preferred choice for graphic designers and CAD designers. The 3D mouse is quite expensive right now, which makes it suitable for professional graphic designers who are willing to pay more for better precision. The mice available today are equipped with advanced features, such as gesture support, programmable buttons, and scrolling, to help users interact with the GUI (graphical user interface) of the operating system in a better way.

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