The usage of a computer mouse as an input device has become so commonplace today that it is difficult to imagine a time without the mouse. But this important input device has its own history, starting from the Xerox 8010 Star Information System.
Original credits for inventing the mouse are given to Douglas Engelbart who created a mouse consisting of a wooden shell and two metal wheels. Yes, it went only up and down and not diagonal. 8 years later, Bill English improved the mouse by using a ball instead of wheels, which was know as a ‘Ball Mouse’. This ensured freedom to move in whatever direction. This became a part of the Xerox Alto computer system that was pretty much the first minicomputer that supported an os to use a graphical interface.
It took another eight years for the mouse to be developed further. The optical mouse was created by Lisa M. Williams and was patented. This mouse avoided the problem of the Ball Mouse-the ball would get dirty. However, it took a long time till the optical mouse became an affordable alternative.
The first cordless mouse was developed by Logitech in 1984. It used infrared technology to send signals to the main computer.
The Xerox Alto was the first GUI computer to use the mouse. However, it didn’t make huge profits because Xerox didn’t see the scope of this simple device. But someone else did-Steve Jobs! In exchange for a million shares in Apple, Xerox let Apple see what they were producing. This resulted in the Apple Lisa and Macintosh.
The existence of the mouse is closely linked to that of a graphical user interface. There was a time when a computer screen was nothing but a command line prompt and that was how you had to interact with your keyboard. The graphical user interface first became popular with the Apple Lisa, and came into the mainstream with the Macintosh. The release of the Macintosh made this device immensely popular, since it was the best way to interact with graphical interfaces and graphical interfaces were the best way to interact with your computer.
The Xerox mouse cost 300 bucks. But Apple was intolerant, and made their mouse available for $15. Also, Steve demanded it be usable on his blue jeans!
In 2000, Xerox’s sales plunged while Apple made a big buck. But, we’re diverging from the topic in hand.
And in the years that followed, the mouse became an integral part of a computer system. Even when relatively new input mediums such as touchpad and touch have been introduced, the mouse still dominated the market.
1964-Douglas Engelbart created the first mouse with two wheels.
1972-Bill English created the ball mouse.
1973-The Xerox Alto with GUI was born, using a three-button mouse.
1980-The optical mouse is created and patented, but is too costly to be used commercially.
1982-Xerox 8010 Star was created and became the most popular computer to use a mouse at that time. But this mouse cost more than $400.
1984- The Macintosh brought immense popularity to the mouse by making it incredibly affordable.
Just like any other new tech product, companies began tweaking the mouse in innovative ways. Some examples are Sony’s TALK released in 2005, which became a phone when users needed it to be. Another one is Microsoft’s Arc bendable mouse, which lay flat on the ground when not in use.
- Even though Douglas invented the mouse, he lost his patent over it by the time it sold commercially. So he didn’t even get any credit nor money.
- Hawley from The Mouse House had a customer who thought that they sold lab mice.
- The Xerox practically had the market to themselves and and enormous opportunity, but they messed up.
Truly, this incredible input device has had an eventful history. What do you think? Does the mouse seem not logical as an input device for the future? Do you prefer a touchpad or a mouse? Let me know in the comments section below.