In this article we’ll show you how the computer mouse was invented, its history, and how it has evolved over the years.
We’ll include lots of pictures and videos, so you can easily see how they actually worked.
Let’s dive right in.
The first prototype of the computer mouse was built in 1964 by Dougles Englebart and Bill English, inside the Stanford Research Institute.
They called it a “mouse” because the cord was attached to the rear, which resembled the tail of a mouse.
As you can see from the above picture, there is a horizontal wheel and a vertical wheel. That means it could only go side to side, or up and down – but not at the same time.
Also, the prototype only had one small button on the top.
On December 9th, 1968, Engelbart publicly presented the mouse at what is now called The Mother of All Demos.
It still had a horizontal wheel and a vertical wheel, but now it could move in different directions. It also came with three big buttons.
Two months before Engelbart’s demo, however, a German company Telefunken had developed another mouse model that used a ball.
It was called the Rollkugel, meaning a “rolling ball” in German.
This is significant, because it was the first device to use a ball to track the mouse movement – which would be a standard for a while.
In 1972, Bill English made a new mouse model for Xerox PARC. It used a ball like the Rollkugel, but the ball was made out of metal.
The new mouse model was included with the Xerox Alto, which is regarded as the first computer to utilize a mouse. The Alto was introduced to the public in 1973.
The Xeroc PARC mouse set a standard for the basic structure of the mouse, which still lives on today.
In 1981, Xerox created the Xerox 8010 system, also known as “Star”. It is the first computer that came with a mouse.
The mouse used a small ball, attached to a complicated mechanical system, that tracked the mouse movement.
The whole system cost $16,500, which is worth around $49,131.76 in 2020.
Needless to say, not many people had a computer at this time.
Optical sensors detect motion by taking a picture of the surface repeatedly, like a camera on burst mode.
However, these first generation of optical sensors did not work with typical surfaces. Instead, they needed a special mousepad that was customized to track the mouse movement.
Mouse Systems Optical Mouse, created by Steven Kirsch, used a custom glass mousepad. Xerox Optical Mouse, created by Richard F. Lyon, required a paper mousepad.
Meanwhile in Switzerland, Logitech introduced the P4 mouse in 1982, which is their first hardware device.
Even with the increase in manufacturers, computer mice still were not cheap.
In an article written in 1982, the manufacturer for Xerox mice mentions that there is basically no market competition, and the price of his mouse is $415.
That will quickly change in the upcoming years.
Microsoft finished developing the Microsoft Mouse, which is the company’s first PC-compatible mouse.
Microsoft Word, which ran in DOS, was the first program to have mouse support.
Jim Yurchenco, the engineer of the Lisa Mouse, said in wired.com that Xerox Star 8010’s mouse was too complicated for consumer use.
So he developed the first affordable mouse for consumers called the Lisa Mouse (A9M0050). It was included with the Apple Lisa, a desktop released in 1983.
The one-button design was controversial at that time, as previous mice had 2 or 3 buttons. But even today, Apple continues to produce one-button computer mice.
It was also the first mouse to use trackball without a complicated mechanical system.
By the second half of 1983, Logitech was already selling 500 units of the P4 mouse a month, at a price of $99 per unit, to Apollo Computer.
In 1984, Logitech signed a contract with HP to provide the P4 mice for $44.95 per mouse. They would end up producing 25,000 units per year.
It featured a round bump to rest the palm, continuing their trend from the P4 mouse.
Logitech also created the Metaphor, the first cordless mouse in the history, in the same year. It used infrared technology for wireless connection.
The name “Metaphor” comes from the Xerox Metaphor Computer Systems, which was the first computer with wireless peripherals such as the mouse and keyboard.
However, cordless mice did not reach mainstream yet. That’s because the infrared technology needed a direct line of sight with the connector, which made it inconvenient to use.
In 1985, Logitech sold the C7 mouse to the consumers for $99, which was a record low at that time.
Within 3 years of the release, Logitech’s retail sales was now equal to their OEM sales.
That goes to prove how much computer mice have been popularized in a span of few years.
In 1986 with the launch of Apple IIgs, Apple presented the Apple Desktop Bus, which was their own unique connection method.
It also came with Apple Desktop Bus Mouse, which had an upgraded design from their previous Lisa model.
In 1987, IBM introduced PS/2 with their desktop models.
PS/2 would later become the standard of mouse connections.
Microsoft introduced the first ergonomic mouse, with the famous “dove bar” shape in the same year.
The shape was revolutionary in terms of comfort, and ergonomic mice are still very popular today.
Logitech S9 was released in 1989, which has a unique concave shape.
It is also the first mouse to include their iconic eye logo.
Logitech started selling the Cordless MouseMan in 1991, which is the first wireless mouse that used radio frequency.
It came with a thumb rest, which was a new concept at the time.
Radio frequency, unlike infrared, did not require direct line of sight to the receiver.
This technology made cordless mice much more realistic for everyday usage.
Logitech also released other variations of the MouseMan, such as the Mouseman Left and the MouseMan Right.
As you may have guessed, the Left version is the left-handed users, and Right for the right-handed users.
The Left version is the first mouse created just for left-handed users.
They also released the MouseMan Large, which was bigger than the standard model.
In 1993, Honeywell introduced their Opto-Mechanical Mouse, which had a unique design of two wheels that track the mouse movement.
The wheels used X-Y axially inclined transducer technology instead of a standard ball. It was an effort to solve the problem of dust and dirt building up inside ball mice, which made the mouse less accurate.
Logitech announced the TrackMan Marble in 1995, with their patented Marble sensor.
It was the first mouse with trackball system, which you move the cursor by moving the ball, not the mouse.
Same year, Mouse Systems introduced the ProAgio, the first commercial mouse with a scroll wheel.
The mouse model was also sold under the name Genius Easyscroll.
While it is now definitely considered a game-changer, not many people were looking for the ProAgio at the time. The concept of a scroll wheel was still foreign to most people.
In 1996, Microsoft released the original version of IntelliMouse, with a clickable scroll wheel.
Unlike Mouse Systems, Microsoft was able to popularize the scroll wheel and it became an essential part of a computer mouse.
Microsoft still continues to improve and produce IntelliMouse mice today, over 20 years after its first model.
IBM released the TrackPoint Mouse, which had a 2-D scroll, in 1997.
Because it had a small joystick instead of a vertical wheel, this is the first mouse that could scroll horizontally.
The first gaming mouse, Razer Boomslang, was born in 1997. It was Razer’s first product.
At the time of the release, the Boomslang cost $100.
In 1998, Apple decided to include the infamous Apple USB Mouse, aka the Hocky Puck.
It has a circular shape which earned its nickname, as well as one button like all other Apple mice.
As its name suggests, it was the first USB mouse by Apple.
In 1999, a company called Agilent introduced an optical sensor that did not require a special surface, a groundbreaking accomplishment that would revolutionize mouse sensors.
It allowed users to use the mouse with more accuracy and reliability. With the ball mouse, the axels built dust which hindered mouse movements and required regular cleaning.
Later in the year, Microsoft started selling the IntelliMouse Explorer, with IntelliEye optical tracking – with the sensor from Agilent.
Microsoft followed up with the Cordless Wheel Mouse, which started the trend of wireless mice among consumers.
It had an ambidextrous shape unlike the IntelliMouse series.
Microsoft claimed that the mouse works up to 5 feet from the receiver.
In 2000, Apple released their first mouse with an optical sensor, the Pro Mouse.
It caught a lot of people’s eyes with its stylish design.
As a side note, Apple Computer is the first company to include an optical mouse with their desktops.
In April of 2002, Microsoft released the first commercially available Bluetooth wireless mouse.
In 2003, Apple introduced the Apple Wireless Mouse, their first wireless mouse.
It used Bluetooth connection, and had one button.
Apple Wireless Mouse is the first commercially successful Bluetooth mouse.
Logitech and Philippe Starck made the Optical Mouse by S+ARCK in 2004, the first designer mouse by Logitech.
With the emergence of PC gaming, companies started to focus more on making an accurate mouse for gamers.
Thus came the laser sensor, developed by Agilent, which was superior to the LED optical sensors which was common at that time.
With that the Logitech created the Logitech MX 1000, the first commercially available laser mouse.
Logitech also released the V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse, which is the first mouse with 2.4Ghz wireless technology, which is still used widely today in wireless mice.
The new wireless technology meant the mouse works up to 10 meters away from the receiver.
Apple released the Mighty Mouse in 2005, which was their first mouse with more than one button.
It had two buttons with touch sensors that made a sound through its small speaker. It also had the scroll ball instead of a typical scroll wheel.
Apple changed the name to Apple Mouse after they had trademark issues with another manufacturer called the Mighty Mouse.
In 2006, Logitech released the Logitech MX Revolution, which was the first mouse with MicroGear Precision Scroll Wheel.
The Precision Scroll Wheel had two modes, free-spin mode and click-to-click mode.
Free-spin mode allows users to spin the scroll wheel with no friction, so they can scroll many pages or rows easily.
In click-to-click mode, there is a restriction after a small distance.
Sony released their computer mouse, VN-CX1, in 2006.
It could work as a phone, as well as a mouse when folded.
However, it had a major problem – you could not use the mouse while talking on the phone through a headset.
In 2007, Logitech released the first mouse with a nano receiver called Logitech VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse.
The nano receiver is still being used today in many wireless mice.
Thanks to the invention of iPhone, many users were already familiar with multitouch support by 2009.
So Apple made the Magic Mouse, the first mouse with multitouch support, such as swiping and double tapping.
Since then, there has been a lot of improvements to computer mouse.
For example, the maximum DPI goes over 20000 in modern gaming mouse, a huge increase from the past mice.
Gaming mice nowadays also have at least 1000 Hz polling rate, even in wireless mice, which allows wireless mice to be used even among professional players.
But there hasn’t been a groundbreaking technology that is worth noting as a part of computer mouse history, at least yet.
What do you think will be the next game-changing technology?
Let us know in the comment section!