Mouse Design – the History of Our Favorite Electronic Rodent

Mouse Design

As we move into the touch computing era and our fingers again become the primary pointing device, it’s interesting to look back at the beginnings of earlier forms computer control. Dan Knight has posted a nice retrospective of the first few decades of mouse design over at Low End Mac:

The first computer mouse was carved from a block of wood and used two wheels to track its motion. The first commercial mouse was the Telefunken Rollkugel, an accessory for Telefunken’s computers that replaced the wheels in Engelbart’s design with a ball, making it essentially an inverted trackball.

Early mice started out with more buttons than later models – first three, then two, then whittled down to a single button with the Apple Lisa and Macintosh. It’s inverted cousin, the trackball, had a similarly downward growth trend over time:

…the first trackball used a 5’ Canadian five-pin bowling ball. The trackball first came to popularity with Missile Command, an Atari arcade game introduced in 1980 that used a 4’ ball.

For more see the full story at Low End Mac: Mouse Design 1963-1983

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  • Bob Forsberg

    Dan Knight and his site is truly a wealth of information on all things MAC. I’ve followed him for years since my fist Apple, the GS.

  • denkster

    I second that. LowendMac is a goldmine. The folks there should be on Apple’s payroll. My latest find there: Teleport, controlls multiple computers from the same mouse and keyboard

About the author

Adam RosenAdam Rosen is an Apple certified IT consultant specializing in Macintosh systems new and old. He lives in Boston with two cats and too many possessions. In addition to membership in the Cult of Mac, Adam has written for Low End Mac and is curator of the Vintage Mac Museum. He also enjoys a good libation.

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