The History of the Computer Mouse

Joseph ComoMisc.

Today, I looked at my mouse and realized just how interesting of an object it is.  Being the curious person that I am, I decided to look up the history of the computer mouse, and share my findings with you.

The mouse was invented in 1963 by Douglas Engelbart, with the help of his colleague Bill English.  They called their new invention the “Mouse” because the chord came out of the back, not the front like most do today.  It had a square, wooden shell with two metal wheels and a red light-up button.

While working for Xerox PARC in 1972, Bill English went on to invent the ball mouse.  The ball replaced the external wheels of the original mouse, and was able to move in any direction.  It worked by having two chopper wheels inside of the mouse that chopped beams of light on their way to light sensors.  This is what would detect the motion of the ball.  The ball mouse became popular with the use of personal computers in the 1980’s and 90’s.

After this, many variations of the mouse began to surface.  Laser mice, 3D mice, tactile mice, wireless mice, and the most popular today, the USB mouse.  Different numbers of buttons and  click wheels began appearing on the different types, all trying to make the mouse as convenient as possible.

While doing my research, I came upon many great pictures of early mouse designs.  Some were absolutely huge and ancient looking, some looked like my old garage door opener, some were circles, fancy shapes, and all sorts of colors!

Satisfied with my findings, I went back to work, feeling really cool because I knew so much about mice!