On April 27, 1981, I was a senior in high school. In six weeks I would graduate and leave home for good. At the time I was typing my papers on an electric typewriter. In graduate school I bought my first desktop computer and learned the misery of early MS-DOS computing. In the mid-1990s I bought my growing family a Windows desktop computer that featured something new: a mouse. 

Suddenly computing was fun…just move and click! But was that a left or right click?

The history of “mousing” actually goes back to the 1940s through primitive trackball devices. However, it was Xerox that introduced the modern mouse on this date four decades ago. In a strange twist, however, it wasn’t Xerox that popularized its use on computers but rather Apple. That’s right, in 1984 the Apple MacIntosh was released with a mouse. Other computer companies followed suit and by the mid-1990s the mouse was a common feature in computing.

How did the “mouse” get its name? Actually because it resembled a mouse with its tail (to early designers). Computer mice also spawned the mousepad…a rubber backed surface on which to roll the mouse effectively. Anybody remember banging your mouse when the track ball gummed up? Guilty! Some people even named their computer mouse. Mine was “Mickey.”

Since the advent of touch technology (tracking pads and screen), the mouse isn’t as popular nor necessary. Laptops and tablets proved poison for this non-furry computer additive. Nevertheless, the mouse remains a hot commodity, especially among gamers. In fact, some mice can cost a pretty piece of cheese today…like this one for over $900!

So today we celebrate the computer mouse…turning the big 4-0 today

2 Comments

  1. Thomas Macauley on May 2, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    No mention of Douglas Engelbart? Engelbart’s name is on the Patent. In 1968, he gave his famous Mother of All Demos at the ACM meeting. In it, he demonstrated the components of a modern user interface: interactive windows, graphics, video conferencing, and hypertext manipulated with his mouse.
    The demo spawned the research at PARC.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos

    Patent here:
    https://patents.google.com/patent/US3541541

    • Rick Chromey on May 3, 2021 at 10:21 am

      Thank you for the extra information on the more technical aspect of the mouse, Thomas. Obviously there’s much more than could be penned, and has, on the technical history of our devices. My goal in these brief blogs is to simply note anniversaries, cultural significance and inspire further study. Thank you, again.

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