Computer Mouse – The Introduction

What is a Computer Mouse?

A modern computer mouse
A modern computer mouse – it has two buttons and a sroll wheel in between them.

computer mouse is an input device that is most often used with a personal computer. Moving a mouse along a flat surface can move the on-screen cursor to different items on the screen. Items on the screen can be moved or selected by pressing the mouse buttons.

Today’s mice (the plural form of ‘mouse’) have two buttons, the left button and right button, with a scroll wheel in between the two (see above).

Different types of Computer Mouse

Computer mice some in a number of varieties. You can find a computer mouse for just about any use. To figure out what kind of mouse would work best with your PC, you need to know your mouse options.

1. Mechanical Mouse – Houses a hard rubber ball that rolls as the mouse is moved. Sensors inside the mouse body detect the movement and translate it into information that the computer interprets.

Mechanical mouse
Inside of a mechanical mouse

2. Optical mouse – Uses an LED sensor to detect tabletop movement and then sends off that information to the computer for merry munching.

Optical mouse
Underside of an optical mouse
You see something like this when you turn upside down your mouse? Then you got an optical mouse.

3. Infrared (IR) or radio frequency cordless mouse – With both these types, the mouse relays a signal to a base station wired to the computer’s mouse port. The cordless mouse requires power, which comes in the form of batteries.

Wireless mouse comes with a USB receiver.
Wireless mouse comes with a USB receiver.

4. Trackball mouse – Like an upside-down mouse. Rather than roll the mouse around, you use your thumb or index finger to roll a ball on top of the mouse. The whole contraption stays stationary, so it doesn’t need a lot of room, and its cord never gets tangled.

Trackball mouse
Trackball mouse does not move anywhere like any other mice

Other Mouse Types and Mouse Alternatives

Look for some other mouse types and alternatives to mouse.

The History of the Computer Mouse

Today, the mouse is an essential input device for all modern computers but it wasn’t so long ago that computers had no mouse and no graphical user interface. Data was entered by typing commands on a keyboard.

The mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1964 and consisted of a wooden shell, circuit board and two metal wheels that came into contact with the surface it was being used on.

First computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelbart
First computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelbart

It was 8 years later in 1972 that Bill English developed the design further by inventing what is known as the “Ball Mouse” that we know today. The ball replaced the wheels and was capable of monitoring movement in any direction. The ball came into contact with two rollers that in turn spun wheels with graduations on them that could be turned into electrical pulses representing direction and speed.

First ball mouse by Bill English
One of the first ball mouse designs

It would be another 8 years before the mouse would be developed any further. An optical mouse was developed in around 1980, eliminating the ball which often became dirty from rolling round the desktop, negatively affecting its operation.

In 1988, an optical mouse invented by Lisa M. Williams and Robert S. Cherry, which was to be sold commercially with Xerox products, such as the Xerox STAR.

Thanks to the increase in micro-controller processing power and the reduction in component costs, Today the optical mouse has completely replaced the ball mouse, being supplied as standard with all new computers.

For more information, you can read on this Wikipedia article.