How Mouse Works

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Roller ball mouse is used from about 1990 to 2000. You have to clean the ball every half a year or so. It gathers dust and dirt, and can get stuck. It works well on smooth flat surfaces only. It does not work well on carpet.

computer ball mouse mechanism 2005
Inside of a roller ball mouse. image source
mouse mechanism diagram
Roller ball mouse mechanism. image source
  1. Pulling the mouse turns the ball.
  2. X and Y rollers grip the ball and transfer movement.
  3. Optical encoding disks include light holes.
  4. Infrared LEDs shine through the disks.
  5. Sensors gather light pulses to convert to X and Y velocities.

First Mouse, 1968. Douglas Engelbart

Engelbart mouse
First mouse, from ~1968. Inventor Douglas Engelbart holding the first computer mouse, showing the two wheels that contact the desk. image source
SRI Computer Mouse
SRI Computer Mouse

Mouse History

mouse 1985 to 1995 history
Mouses from about 1985 to 1995. [photo by mr_a500, from image source ]
  • NeXT mouse [see NeXT Keyboard]
  • ?
  • ?
  • Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II
  • Apple Desktop Bus Mouse
  • Macintosh Mouse (1984).
  • IBM PS/2 mouse (1987)
  • IBM ? mouse
  • IBM ? mouse
Apple mouses 1984 to 2000
Apple mouses, roughly 1984 to 2000.
  • Macintosh Mouse (1984).
  • Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) Mouse (1986)
  • Apple Desktop Bus Mouse (ADB) II (1993)
  • Apple USB Mouse. (hockey puck mouse) [see Apple Bondi Blue iMac keyboard, 1999]
  • Apple Pro Mouse (2000).
image source
Apple Pro Mouse (2000). The whole mouse is covered in a thick plastic glass. There are no buttons. The whole mouse is one button. image source
Apple Mighty Mouse 46738
Apple Mighty Mouse. (2005 to 2009) It has a tiny rubber ball on top, which lets you scroll in all directions, as well as click. image source
Apple magic mouse
Apple magic mouse, introduced in 2009. The surface is now multi-touch sensitive.

Optical Mouse and Laser Mouse

Optical mouse and laser mouse work by taking a picture of the surface many times per second, and compare the pictures, to see which way the mouse has moved.

800px-An Early Three Buttoned Mouse
early optical mouse (1980s.) This requires the shiny mirror-like pad underneath to work. image source

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