Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Happy 30th Birthday, Computer Mouse!

Thirty years ago today, the first computer mouse to be used alongside a personal computer appeared. On April 27, 1981, the integrated mouse made its debut with the Xerox Star Information System.

First called "Computer-Aided Display Control," the term "mouse" referred to the tool's rounded shape and wire "tail" protruding out the back of the gadget that gave it a rodent-like look.

The mouse has come a long way in its 30 years. Most don't even have wires any more, especially in an era where so many tech companies are producing touch-screen technology with devices like Apple's iPhone or other smartphones and tablets. Additionally, most laptops use some sort of touchpad to navigate the screen, or a pointer stick.

The prototype for the first mouse was invented by Douglas Englebard in 1963 while he was working at Palo Alto's Stanford Research Institute. Before it morphed into the mouse that is commonly seen today, it went through many different forms. For example, one method was mounting a device on the user's head or chin. In 1972, wheels on the bottom of the mouse were replaced by a trackball, a feature that many mice don't even use today.

The device went through many revisions before Xerox released it with star in 1982. However, the mouse didn't get a lot of attention until it appeared with Apple's Macintosh three years later.

Can you imagine the computer without the mouse? PCMag's John Dvorak gives the mouse a lot of credit for the rise of the Internet. Computer mice have been an integral part of the tech age, and evolved quite a bit in the three decades since their debut. 

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