What is a Computer Mouse?

A computer mouse is a pointing device used to give input to the computer. It controls the motion of a cursor on the screen. It is used for pointing and clicking operations. Normally, a mouse contains two and some have a wheel as well for scrolling up and down.


It all started with a trackball, which was invented back in 1946 by Ralph Benjamin for a fire control system called the Comprehensive Display System (CDS). The joystick was another popular pointing device back in those days. Initially, two rubber rollers were used to move the ball which laid the foundation of the modern mechanical mouse. The credit of inventing the first commercial mouse goes to Douglas Engelbart. He managed to achieve the goal in 1964.

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

It was a wooden mouse with two metal wheels and no ball. When the metal wheels touch the surface, the cursor moves. A few years later in 1972, Bill English improved the design and developed the first “ball mouse”. In 1980, the first optical mouse was developed which replaced the ball with laser for better precision.

How Does It Work?

The mouse controls the motion of the pointer on a screen. For this reason, the mouse was known as X-Y position indicator in the early days. A computer mouse converts your hand movements into electronic signals that are used to move the pointer on the monitor screen. Hence, as you move your mouse on a surface, the pointer on the screen also moves in the same direction.

To select an object on the screen, left click on it. Double clicking an object will open it. You can perform many similar functions using your mouse. Modern computer mice come with gesture support. You can tie a gesture for performing a particular action. They are difficult to use and need precise motions.

Types of Mice

There are many types of mice. A mouse can be wired or wireless and uses different connectors. Mice can also be categorized based on the number of buttons they have. Some of the major types of computer mice are as follows:

mechanical mouse

A mechanical mouse contains a ball between two rollers which detects the x and y-axis motions. The optical mouse uses laser instead of a ball. 3D mice are a new type and use ultrasounds. They provide motion capabilities in three dimensions. Gaming mice serve special purposes by offering more than a dozen programmable buttons and many other features suitable for gaming. There are other types of mice built for special purposes available on the market as well.


Computer mice transmit their input in a variety of ways. If it is a wired mouse, some of the common standards used to connect it to the computer are PS/2 (old), USB (new) and Apple Desktop Bus (for Macs). If you are using a wireless mouse, Infrared, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are commonly used to transmit signals wirelessly.

How to Use a Computer Mouse?

Each person uses and holds a mouse differently. Normally, a computer mouse is designed for use by right-handed use. Nonetheless, left-handed people can customize a mouse according to their needs. Put your index finger on the left mouse button and middle finger on the right mouse button. Grip the mouse with the other fingers and palm.

Mouse Pad

Use the mouse pad especially if you are finding it difficult to move the cursor on the screen due to an uneven surface. Make sure there is enough space on the desk to move the cursor from one corner of the screen to another. You can also adjust the sensitivity of your mouse and other settings by going into the control panel. Do not apply too much force to move the mouse and use it carefully.

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