You’ve likely got your hand resting on one right now, about to click the title of this article to read more, the humble computer mouse. Today the mouse turns 30 and is, more or less, just a compact version of its former self.
The history of the computer mouse is a surprisingly twisty one. In the 1950s the British government invented the trackball but, as it was part of a secret government project, it was kept from the public. Independently of that in 1963 Douglas Engelbart created a simple input that featured to rolling wheels that he christened a “mouse” because of it’s shape and long tail-like cord. Another group, a German company known as Telefunken, also independently developed and released a mouse within weeks of Engelbart’s demonstration. For the next two decades the mouse would remain and obscure and underused device.
In April of 1981 Xerox would begin shipping the Xerox 810 computer system. It marked the first time a personal computer had shipped with a mouse as an input peripheral. Although a significant milestone the mouse would again languish in relative obscurity until the Apple Macintosh shipped later in the 1980s with a simple 1-button mouse.
Fast forward 30 years and–although we’ve added buttons, laser tracking, wireless connectivity, and other flourishes–the mouse is not far removed from it’s earliest incarnations.
Hit up the link below to read more about the history of the mouse and it’s evolution over the last decades.
Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 04/27/11