Who & How Invented the Computer Mouse

Who & How Invented the Computer Mouse

The lowly mouse is probably one of those input devices attached to our computer that we often take for granted. It is always there, sitting on our desk, waiting patiently for the touch our hand as we use it to navigate the user interface of our computer.

Have you ever wondered how that computer mouse that you are probably holding nonchalantly right now as you read this article came to be?

The Invention of the Computer Mouse

The invention of the very first computer mouse occurred exactly 40 years ago at the Stanford Research Institute. It was the brainchild of Dr. Douglas C. Englebart, who at the time was doing research work on the interaction of humans and computers and was trying to develop devices that will build upon and enhance human intelligence.

Dr. Englebart and his team were also credited for a number of inventions, including the hypertext that became so vital in the development of the Internet. But among the devices that Dr. Englebert had created, it was the computer mouse that became most prominent as a permanent fixture in personal computers.

The early mouse was a boxy device with wheels attached. These wheels were the ones that directed the movement of the cursor on the computer screen as the mouse traveled across a surface with its wheels in direct contact upon that surface.

It should be noted that despite the prevalence of computer mouses today, Dr. Englebart did not get any royalties for inventing it in the first place. That is because the patent for his invention became expired long before the mouse found its way to the marketplace with personal computers.

The Evolution of the Mouse

The first computer mouse that became available commercially was built by Bill English for the Xerox Company in 1972. English was also part of the team headed by Dr. Englebert. This mouse that was developed by English introduced the track ball; the trackball replaced the wheels in Dr. Englebert’s original design. It was later on packed with the Xerox PARC, one of the earlier models of personal computers.

The so-called modern computer mouse was designed by Jean-Daniel Nicoud and Andre Guignard at the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. This mechanical mouse design gave us the computer rodents with the three buttons and the hard rubber ball. It was the design upon which computer mouses were made of until the scroll-wheel mouse and the optical mouse entered the scene.

Enter the Optical Mouse

Although there are some old-style mouses to be found in computer shops, most mouses that come with the personal computer are optical mouses. An optical mouse is a computer mouse that is built with a chip that processes images. It does not have any wheels, rollers or even track balls that direct the movement of the cursor on the screen.

Instead, it is supposed to detect movement on a wide range of surfaces. This makes it the ideal computer mouse to take for mobile computing. Also, optical mouse are easier to maintain because it does not have the same problem as the mechanical mouse, where lint is often stuck to its rollers.

The mouse is one of the most important parts of the computer, with decades of history behind it. It should be treated with respect and care.

This Article is written by John C Arkin.


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