The Quick 10: 10 Surprisingly Interesting Facts About your Computer Mouse

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With the rate touch screen technology is advancing, it probably won’t be long before using a keyboard and mouse is the computer equivalent of keeping an 8-track player in your car. Since today is the anniversary of the day the mouse was invented, however, we’ll celebrate while we can.

1. That’s the first mouse pictured there to the left. It's almost kind of steampunk before we even knew what steampunk was.
2. The trackball preceded the rest of the mouse by more than 10 years but it was a top secret military project. The mouse pad didn't come until more than five years after the mouse.

3. The Oxford English Dictionary recognizes both “computer mice” and “computer mouses” as correct plural forms of the term. A couple of sources, however, recommend referring to them as “mouse devices” just to be on the safe side.

4. Douglas Englebart, the inventor of the mouse, has never seen a dime from the patent. That’s because his patent expired just before the device became widely used with almost every computer. But he’s not cursing his luck – Englebart has had a hand in a multitude of other inventions, including hypertext.

5. If history had been tweaked slightly, it’s possible that we would all be sitting in cubicles with weird headpieces attached to our faces (OK, weirder headpieces attached to our faces). One of Englebart’s prototypes suggested using a tracking device based on head movements instead of manual mouse clicking, but the mouse was ultimately more convenient to use. No kidding.

6. Ever heard of mouse rage? It’s a real thing that typically involves taking your computer frustrations out on your mouse and possibly ruining it. Website loading slowly? Smash your mouse against the desk as if that might help (it won’t). Ridiculous number of pop up ads? Just launch your hapless mouse at the wall. Mouse rage is also often caused by gaming. It’s sometimes called Mouse Rage Syndrome or MRS.

7. Like a lot of great inventions, the mouse had its detractors (and still does, I’m sure). In 1984, computer columnist John C. Dvorak wrote, "There is no evidence that people want to use these things".

8. The early versions of the mouse were named after a different critter - the turtle. The "tail" of wire at the end resulted in the name we call it today, of course, but at least one company is capitalizing on the mouse's resemblance to the shelled creature.

9. You can refer to the device as a "mouse" in most countries and people will know what you're talking about. It's called the same thing in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French and Russian, among other languages.

10. Regular computer mouse not cutting it for you these days? Try one of these 10.

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November 17, 2010 - 12:56pm
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