The computer mouse as we know it today has come a long way since it was invented by Douglas Engelbart (with contributions by William Kirk English) in 1964. This precursor of the modern mouse, was never widely used. The patent for the mouse, held by SRI International, expired long before the computer mouse became commonly used device.
Opposing track wheels by Douglas Engelbart in 1970 (left). Ball & wheel by Ronald E. Rider in 1974 (middle). Ball & two rollers with supporting spring by Willard J. Opocensky in 1976 (right).
These humble beginnings led to the evolution of the computer mouse into the ergonomic varieties we see today. Wired mice have given way to wireless mice, and even track-pads (on notebooks), and touch-screens (on tablets). But the wired mouse still have plenty of users, especially in the gaming industry and in office settings. The reason for its continued popularity is the reliability of connection and signal, which can be spotty with wireless mice.
Who invented the computer mouse?
Douglas Engelbart is credited with the invention of the computer mouse. But there have been many others who have contributed to the evolution and refinement of the corded computer mouse with which we are familiar today.
The Mighty Wired Computer Mouse
The wired computer mouse has a variety of advantages, which make it popular among gamers, and others who appreciate the benefits it offers over its wireless counterpart.
Wired mice are less common today, but there are still cases where the wired mouse is preferred. The areas where a wired mouse excels:
A wired mouse…
- Does not need batteries
- Has a faster response time
- Is not susceptible to interference
- Costs somewhat less than a wireless mouse
Each of the above mentioned advantages makes the wired mouse the ideal option for gamers. Since gamers often engage in fast-paced online gaming, the faster response time, lack of connection interference makes the wired mouse a must for serious gamers. The wired connection may offer less mobility but gaming rigs are usually designed for single-location use. Even at tournaments gaming computers are set up and remain in one location for the duration of the tournament, so there is not a lot of moving around where the mouse wire may cause problems. But the wired mouse is also popular in the office environment.
The wired mouse is also often the mouse of choice in offices because it requires less maintenance, is less likely to malfunction, and does not use batteries. Cost used to also be an advantage as well, but in recent years the price of the wireless mice has dropped enough where the price-advantage is almost gone.
Mechanical vs Optical Mouse
A mechanical mouse uses mechanical elements to translate the motion of a rubber ball using two rollers along its X and Y axis. It is a simple but powerful concept which has made modern computing easy for virtually anyone.
- Moving the mouse on a flat surface moves rolls the ball
- X and Y rollers use friction to transfer motion
- The movement by X and Y rollers are translated into movements on the computer screen
Modern optical mice use what is basically a miniaturized camera. This camera takes images of the surface on which the mouse is placed, and an internal special-purpose processor compares the images in succession to determine the movement of the mouse on the surface.
This approach reduces the moving parts in a mouse which in turn reduces the chance of dust and debris finding its way into the mouse and interfering with the proper functionality of the mouse.
Each type of mouse offers its own advantages and disadvantages, but optical mice have become the only type (wired or otherwise) which is readily available on the market.