Apple’s First Multi-Button Mouse Patent Is A Trip Down Memory Lane



We’ve seen a number of classic patents published recently, referring to iconic Apple inventions, and this week is no different.

The recently published “Multi-Button Mouse” patent refers to Apple’s first steps away from the single-button mouse that Steve Jobs had insisted on ever since the days of the Lisa computer in the early 1980s.

The patent describes what would eventually become the Apple Mighty Mouse, which shipped with iMacs from 2005, before being replaced in 2009 by the multi-touch Magic Mouse currently used.

Apple's patent let them create multi-button functionality in a unibody casing.
Apple’s patent let them create multi-button functionality in a unibody casing.

Unlike most of the multi-button mice available at the time of its release, what made Apple’s Multi-Button Mouse patent special was that it referred to a method by which sensors could be used to create multiple button functionality inside a solid unibody mouse.

This was done by associating different actions with specific portions of the single movable housing component, so that Apple’s UI designers would be able to take advantage of right clicks without Apple having to sacrifice the clean design it already had with its “no-button” Apple Pro Mouse.

Diagram showing how the mouse's sensors would  replace physical buttons.
Diagram showing how the mouse’s sensors would be used to perform on-screen actions.

While it was a new concept at the time — and one that Steve Jobs was reportedly not initially keen on — it has stuck around in some embodiment ever since, which is why the publishing of its patent makes such fascinating reading.

The “Multi-Button Mouse” patent was first filed Mar 13, 2002, and refreshed in July 13, 2012.

It names Abraham Farag and Brian Q. Huppi as its inventors.

Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office