The mouse has become indispensable. Right now, you’re probably reading this text with your hand resting on it or a notebook trackpad, unless you’re on a tablet or smartphone. But even with all of its presence in our lives, few people know how this device was invented.
Here at TecMundo, we have already briefly covered the history of the mouse, which somehow blends in with the emergence of the first graphical interfaces for computers. But this dear peripheral deserves a special chapter, which will be told below and also in the following video.
1952: the first trackball is born
About ten years before the first mouse was created, the Canadian Forces Maritime Command contacted several companies that might be interested in participating in projects involving the armed forces, universities and private companies.
One of these projects aimed to create a machine that could share radar and sonar data in real time, so that all combatants could have a unified view of the battlefield. This project became known as DATAR.
But the part that interests us here is that DATAR brought a curious device for the time. Operators send radar data through a trackball, a kind of “mouse” in which, to move the cursor, it was enough to rotate a ball present in the device.
Of course, this first trackball didn’t have the elegance and lightness of today’s models. To give you an idea, at the time the Canadian Navy used a bowling ball to produce this device. And, as it was a military project and therefore secret, the trackball was never patented.
1963: the first mouse prototype
Independently, researcher Douglas Engelbart, from the Stanford Research Institute, was working on a project that was very advanced for his time. In the early 1960s, most computers were still operated with punch cards and other methods that did not allow user interaction with the machine. Even text-mode interfaces were rare.
Even so, Engelbart was working on a machine that was intended to enhance the human intellect, not replace it with a machine. Many of the technologies we use today were proposed by this project, such as the graphic interface of computers and videochats.
Among the input devices introduced by Engelbart in 1968, during the first public demonstration of his project, was a small wooden box with a red button on top and a cable that protruded from one end, resembling, in some way, the tail. of a mouse. It was the first mouse in history.
1970: first mouse marketed
The “XY Position Indicator for Screen Systems”, the name of the mouse specified in its patent, worked with two “gears” that registered the horizontal and vertical positions of the cursor.
A few weeks after Engelbart’s presentation, the German company Telefunken launched a mouse model that had a small sphere inside, responsible for recording these coordinates. Although the device was part of the components of Telefunken computers, this is considered the first mouse to have been commercialized in the world.
1973–1981: The Xerox Mice
The next mice to win the market were sold with personal computers from Xerox, such as the Alto, from 1973, the first PC to use the desktop concept and have a graphical interface geared towards the use of the “mouse”.
Another machine famous for bringing a mouse as part of the system was the Xerox Star, officially known as the Xerox 8010 Information System. It was also one of the first computers to incorporate several other technologies so common in PCs today, such as Ethernet networks, file and print servers.
1983: Apple’s first mouse
That year, Apple introduced the famous Lisa computer, which contained a mouse inspired by the same one that came with the Xerox Alto. A striking feature of this model is that, instead of a rubber ball, Lisa’s mouse used a metal sphere. This was the model that set the standard for a single button for the company’s other mice for nearly 20 years.
1999: the debut of the optical mouse
Although research for the first optical mouse models began in 1980, it was not until 1999 that the first commercial model of this type of device was released. Microsoft’s IntelliMouse with IntelliEye worked on almost any surface and showed very significant improvements compared to the mechanical mouse.
The main difference was the fact that the mechanical mouse “ball” was replaced by an infrared LED, presenting the advantage that this model does not accumulate dirt, thus preventing the user from having to open the device and clean it. The IntelliMouse series was also the first to incorporate the scroll wheel.
These models later evolved, and LED was replaced by a laser diode, taking the shelves in 2004 with the MX 1000, a Logitech product.
Other mouse models
The evolution of mice does not stop there and, recently, the “mice” gained “wing”. Thanks to gyroscopes, mice now don’t even need to be operated on a physical, flat surface. This model only requires a few light movements of the user’s wrist to move the cursor, thus reducing the physical strain caused by dragging the mouse all day.
Another innovation is the so-called 3D mice, specially indicated for the manipulation and navigation of images in three dimensions, but not limited to that. You can check, in the video above, the use of such a device with Internet Explorer and Word.
The gamer world
And you can’t leave out gamer models either, which you see today in eSports competitions and in the homes of more demanding players. They have a futuristic design that is not only about style but also comfort, lots of additional buttons for shortcuts and special settings.
One of the values taken into account by this audience is the DPI, or dots per inch. Basically, the larger it is, the greater the mouse’s movement sensitivity. Razer , Steel Series and Logitech stand out in this market.
The latter is even one of the highlights in the market for this peripheral. It launched the first wireless mouse with radio transmitters and the first optical mouse with a laser sensor, which remains active today. In 2008, the company reached the mark of 1 billion units sold since it started making models in 1982.