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.