Who Invented the Computer Mouse?

The mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1965 while working at the Stanford Research Institute. He was also helped by his colleague Bill English. The history of the computer mouse shows he never profited from it. The patent had expired long before the device came into wide usage.

Early Prototypes
Before Engelbart developed the mouse, the trackball had already been invented. In 1954, the Canadian Navy created the device for utilization on the DATAR system. The mouse Engelbart made was large and had two wheels.

Although he invented the mouse in 1965, he only patented it in 1970. He called the device an XY Position Indicator for a Display System. The basic idea was actually inspired by the telautograph which was designed back in the 19th century.

A couple of years later (1972) Bill English created the ball mouse. This was an improvement from the original and marked a significant point in the history of the computer mouse. Unlike the mouse with wheels, the ball allowed the mouse to move in any direction. The device was included in the Xerox computer where English was working at the time.

Other Mouse Types
In 1975, another type of ball mouse was created by Jack Hawley also while working at Xerox. Honeywell later produced a wheeled mouse which moved along its axes. However it was in the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne that the standard mouse appeared. The project was headed by André Guignard and Professor Jean-Daniel Nicoud.

Their design would change the history of the computer mouse. They changed the rubber ball so that it became harder and more stable. They also increased the buttons to three. This would remain the standard until the mid 1990s when the third button was replaced by a rolling wheel.

Optical Computer Mouse
Unlike the mechanical mouse, the optical mouse uses diode and photodiodes to monitor movement. This is in contrast with the mechanical mouse that relies on moving components. The earliest optical mouse came out in 1980.

One of the earliest prototypes was invented by Steve Kirsch at MIT. Another optical pointing device was invented by Richard Lyon. These early devices would play a role in changing the history of the computer mouse.

The modern optical mouse utilizes image processing techniques to capture the surface on which it moves. This technology allowed the mouse and the pointer to move effectively even without a mouse pad.

Optical and Mechanical Mice
The optical mouse’s main advantage is that it doesn’t get affected by lint. On the other hand the optical mouse can’t move on certain surfaces (i.e., glossy and glass). However there are some types of laser mice that can move on glass like surfaces.

Generally speaking though, the optical mouse can move on more varied textures. A well designed optical mouse can function even on a sticky surface.

Today there are wireless mice, air mice and other types. As the history of the computer mouse shows, innovations will continue to be made in order to make computing easier.