History of the Computer Mouse

The history of the computer mouse is just as important as the history of the computer. A computer mouse is a pointing device that allows the user to perform certain operations away from the keyboard. The device earned its name because of its resemblance to the animal, with a rounded white body and a long "tail" connecting it to the computer. While most computer mouse devices feature a roller or laser device, the computer mouse of the future utilizes new technology that aims to make the interface between user and computer even simpler.

Early History
The Royal Canadian Navy developed a track-ball system in 1952 to aid users in a computerized battlefield information system. Douglas Engelbart invented the first computer mouse in 1963, and his patent was received in 1970. Engelbart's mouse consisted of two wheels, aligned perpendicularly, that made contact with a flat surface. Inventor Bill English replaced the wheels with a mouse ball in 1972, and this version of the mouse dominated the market in the 1980s and 1990s, making computer mouse accessories a standard part of computer systems for home and business.

Optical Computer Mouse Devices
The next leap in technology occurred with the optical mouse, which overcame several computer mouse problems and increased the mouse's responsiveness. In 1980, two inventors came up with different versions of an optical mouse at about the same time. Steve Kirsch, from MIT, developed a mouse using an infrared LED, while Richard Lyon came up with a light image sensor that worked in conjunction with motion detection. Today's optical mouse devices include image sensors and processing chips that allow the mouse to be used on various surfaces, beyond just a flat desk or table.

Laser Mouse Devices
In 2004, laser mouse devices became available. The technology was first developed in 1998 by Sun Microsystems and features an infrared laser, which increases the mouse's ability to track. The laser mouse is favored by those needing more precision work, such as with computer art.

Wireless Mouse Devices
The move to wireless computer mouse devices occurred in the late 1990s, with advances by the Logitech company paving the way to cordless interfacing. Advances in wireless technology enabled several electronic devices to communicate with each other without cords and cables, and the computer mouse was one of the first applications. Radio frequencies are used to allow the mouse and the computer to communicate, without a connecting cable. There are already several specialized computer mouse devices, from gaming mouse devices to those with five buttons for precise work.

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