Computer Mouses

First appearing in the Late Miocene period (that’s 23 million years ago), mice are considerably older than modern Humans as a species. Even outliving such animals as Entelodonts (giant Wart-Hog like animals) and Nimravids (the ‘false’ Sabre-Toothed Cat). By breeding prolifically and creating a rich source of food for seemingly every carnivorous animal on Earth, mice have become one of the most successful mammalian species of all time.

However, we named computer mice after them because the wire resembled a tail and they were fatter at the back.

This, then, is the story of computer mice, not actual mice. You can now disregard the introductory paragraph, as it serves no further purpose (I’m interested in extinct mammals and I never get to write about them is all).

American inventor Douglas Engelbart created the first computer mouse back in 1964. Engelbart had decided to try and make the world a better place and, to this end, had determined that computers were the key. He first unveiled his design in 1968. With a hard back, a large circuit board and two wheels that dragged across the desk, the original mouse looked more like a Doedicurus (large, shell-backed mammal from the Pleistocene period – HA! I got another one in!) than a mouse, but the idea was there.

8 years later in 1972, Bill English (who was, in fact, another American) pioneered the ball mouse, replacing the wheels of Engelbert’s original model. The ball allowed for much greater movement and was, a significant improvement. This general design has only been ‘phased out’ relatively recently. Its natural successor, the optical mouse, was actually developed as early as 1980, 8 years later, but it would be 18 years before the components would be cheap enough to make it viable commercially. In addition, it took about the same amount of time for the optical mouse to have access to enough microcontroller processing power to make buying it worthwhile anyway.

Logitech produced the first ‘cordless mouse’ back in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1991 that the first wireless model was released. It used radio frequencies to transmit information to the computer and was, as such, the first modern wireless mouse. Then, 8 years later (in fact, the development of significant mouse technology seems to run in groups of 8 years, doesn’t it?) in 1999, Microsoft released their ‘Cordless Wheel Mouse’ a trailblazing wireless design that featured optical sensors and all the trimmings.

Today, mouse design has exploded in all directions. From specialist mice (like gaming mice) to other (mouse inspired) Human interface devices such as trackpads, touch screens and styluses, mice are everywhere. Today’s mice are custom built for specific users, price ranges and activities and are about as common as another animal species, a group of primates first appearing about 200,000 years ago in the Palaeolithic era. I heard they went on to do quite well, too.

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