Trackballs, light pens, and other clever pointing devices were widespread. Then the mouse was invented. Twice. (Well, at least twice.)
Doug Engelbart reportedly conceived the mouse during a conference lecture in 1961. His first design, in 1963, used rolling wheels inspired by mechanical area-measuring devices called planimeters invented in the 1800s.
Engineers at Germany’s Telefunken also invented a mouse in the mid-1960s. First described in 1968, their version used a rolling ball—essentially a small, upside-down trackball—which became the standard for decades.
The word “mouse” does not appear in Engelbart’s patent for the computer pointing device that became ubiquitous within 20 years. The knife-edged wheels each rolled in just one direction, transmitting movement information for that direction. Each slid without turning when the mouse was moved in the other direction.View Artifact Detail
By 1968, SRI had provided Doug Engelbart with commercially produced three-button mice to use in his famous “Mother of all Demos.”View Artifact Detail
Who Named the Mouse?
When asked who named his most famous invention, Doug Engelbart recalled, “No one can remember. It just looked like a mouse with a tail, and we all called it that.” The wire “tail” originally came out under the user’s wrist.
Using a ball from the Canadian 5-pin bowling game, this was likely the first trackball. It controlled radar plotters in a computerized multi-ship defense system designed in Canada.View Artifact Detail
Engelbart commissioned office furniture maker Herman Miller to build special workstations to hold the chording keyset, conventional keyboard and mouse.View Artifact Detail
A Menagerie of Mice
The basic idea of the mouse is simple, but there are many variations on the theme. Engineers have experimented with different shapes, numbers of buttons, internal mechanisms, and aesthetics -- as well as with the part of the human body that activates it.
Shortly after its founding, Logitech sold this rolling-ball mouse design by André Guignard in the U.S.View Artifact Detail
How many buttons should a mouse have? For 20 years, Apple said “one.” Video-editing system maker Quantel, however, found many buttons helpful for operating its sophisticated systems.View Artifact Detail
Foot mouse users include people with hand and arm problems, and people who want to keep their hands on the computer keyboard or other control devices.View Artifact Detail
The name “mouse” inevitably led to quirky accessories and packaging.View Artifact Detail
This wooden mouse combines up-to-date technology with old-world craftsmanship.View Artifact Detail