Monday, March 16, 2015


In Stanford Research Institute, scientists had to use pre-existing devices in order to interact with the computer including the light pen, joysticks and the trackball.

The first trackball consisted of a Canadian bowling ball that was supported by air bearings. It was invented by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff in 1952. The device was created for the Royal Canadian Navy.

The first light pen was invented by Ben Gurley in 1959.

In 1961, Douglas Engelbart was attending a computer graphics conference at Stanford Research Institute. He was disturbed with the computer graphics pointing devices available at that time. The basic idea for the computer mouse came to his mind there itself.

In 1964, the first prototype of computer mouse was made to be used with a graphical user interface (GUI), 'windows' of the computer. The primitive mouse had the cord in front, but they quickly connected it to the back end for a smooth motion.

In early 1967, Engelbart and Bill English published a paper having a discussion on a “knee-control” device that appeared challenging. That device was based on Engelbart's observation that the human foot was a good sensitive controller of the gas pedal in cars. 

They discovered that the knee offered even better control at little movements in all directions. In tests, it outperformed the mouse by a small margin.

After Engelbart got the idea, he hired Bill English who had been working in another lab at SRI, to make the hardware design of the mouse.

It was a simple mechanical device with two perpendicularly mounted discs on the bottom. The user could tilt the mouse to draw perfectly straight horizontal or vertical lines.

In 1967, Engelbart applied for a patent and received it as an assignor of SRI for the wooden shell with two metal wheels.

Mouse was originally referred to as a "X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System." This mouse was first attached with the Xerox Alto computer system in 1973. But it was not so successful.

The first widely used mouse was found on the Apple Lisa computer. Today, mouse is found and used on every computer.

The first cordless mouse was shipped in September, 1984, with the Metaphor computer of David Liddle and Donald Massaro, former Xerox PARC engineers. The computer also had a cordless keyboard and function keypad.

The cordless mouse was built for Metaphor by Logitech and used infra-red (IR) signals to transmit mouse data to the computer. 

The problem with IR technology using devices was that they need a clear line of sight between the mouse and the computer's receiver which was too difficult.

This problem was solved by replacing IR with radio frequency (RF) communications.

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