The History of the Computer Mouse

Computer mice have become such an integral part of our office that it is hard to imagine life without this genius gadget. Computer mice allow you to quickly refer to a point on the screen. Basic operations such as copy-pasting, selecting and other commands only take two clicks. While they can be done on a keyboard, memorising all commands will take up a fair time.

In gaming, computer mice are priceless, as they offer gamers a quick way to interact with the game. If computer mice suddenly disappear, it would be quite difficult to input even the most basic commands.

Just like the computer, the history of the computer mouse is an interesting one. The first computer mouse was very bulky and counter-intuitive. Thanks to years of development, computer mice finally take on the compact and lightweight shape that they have today. Let’s explore the history of this ingenious computer gadget through this article.

First Computer Mouse

The First Mouse

Our story begins in 1946, right when the Second World War just ended. The world's first ever computer mouse (then called "trackball) was invented by a military engineer named Ralph Benjamin. At that time, Benjamin was working under the British Royal Navy Scientific Service. His project involved using an analogue computer to predict the future position of an aircraft based on several input points with a joystick. The joystick was crude and hard to use, so Benjamin set out to create something with more elegant control. As a result, the trackball, then known as the ball tracker, was born.


Douglas Engelbart’s Mouse

Widely credited as the father of the modern computer mouse, Douglas Engelbart came up with the design after attending a conference on computer graphics. He then named the invention a “mouse” because the attached wire resembled the tail of a mouse. The design was simple; a wooden shell, circuit boards and two wheels which served as the point of contact it was used on.

The design was further developed by Billy English, Douglas’ partner. He switched the wheels to a ball, giving it the current shape it bears today. The ball allowed the mouse to move in any direction. This makes the mouse much easier to use than Douglas’ design. At that time, Billy was working for a tech company called Xerox Alto. His improved design helped the company to create the first ever computer to work with a mouse. It quickly became a huge success.

Contour Unimouse

Optical Mouse

Mechanical computer mice are nice, but they often get dirty over time, so users will have to clean them regularly. For this reason, research quickly went underway to find a better solution. In around 1980, the first optical mice came into existence, starting a new era. However, mechanical mice still remained popular until at least 1998, when optical mice became commercially available to a wide audience and finally took off.

The history of the computer mouse is one full of bold innovations and imaginations, much like that of the modern computer itself, and our story has not ended with optical mice. Modern research is being conducted to create ergonomic computer mice which are not only easy to use but are also good for your health, something that previous mouse designs have not provided. If these ergonomic computer mice interest you, let us at Back2 provide you with professional assistance. With our stock of high-quality ergonomic mice, you will never be more satisfied!