Imagine settling in at your favorite coffee shop, opening your laptop, and then plunking a giant, bowling-ball controlled mouse on the table. Doesn’t exactly scream portability, does it? Thankfully, mouse design has evolved in astounding ways since the early models.
The Early Years: Mice in the Mad Men Era
Back in 1952, while Madison Avenue was still clacking away on typewriters, the Royal Canadian Navy was secretly developing the world’s first trackball—a huge and heavy device that centered on a standard Canadian five-pin bowling ball.
Independently, Douglas Engelbart invented the first mouse prototype nine years later, with help from his colleague Bill English. This 1963 version, while still a bit clunky, was much smaller than its predecessor and relied on wheels instead of bowling balls for input. Engelbart and English were also the ones to coin the term “mouse,” based on the device’s design.
Over the next two decades, more and more mice would be developed and refined, leading to the basic shape we’ve come to know today.
Microsoft Mice: 30 Years of Innovation
The first Microsoft mouse, nicknamed “the green-eyed mouse,” was introduced in 1983. It might look like a simple, two-button device, but it was a big deal in microcomputing. An ad for it boasted, “The Mouse lets you move the cursor freely and naturally, then execute commands at the push of a button.”
Microsoft also continued to develop trackball mice, adjusting for ergonomic comfort and other considerations. They even developed an easy-to-handle trackball for kids!
Over the years, Microsoft continued to innovate and improve mouse design. In 1993, after researching the human hand for almost two years, they unveiled the first ergonomic mouse: Microsoft Mouse 2.0. (Finally, a mouse that feels natural and comfortable!) In 1999, they changed the game by introducing the first optical mice. (No more fishing lint out of the trackball well!) In 2005, the Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000 hit the market. (Better precision and control!)
Then, in 2008, Microsoft rolled out an advanced breakthrough in tracking technology, called BlueTrack Technology.
BlueTrack: No Mouse Pad Required
Recognizing that people were using their mice on a variety of surfaces, away from their desks, Microsoft started developing a more accurate and reliable way for these mice to track movement. What resulted was BlueTrack Technology, which outperforms laser and optical mice and makes for a perfect travel companion.
The large blue beam is over four times larger than the average laser beam used in other mice. Combined with an image sensor and pixel geometry designed by Microsoft, it generates a high-contrast picture of the surface that allows exceptional tracking accuracy. What this means is that you can use your mouse on almost any surface*, including an airport floor, a coffee shop table, and a sofa cushion.
Don’t forget, we’re celebrating Microsoft Hardware’s 30th Anniversary with a Twitter contest! Just send us your favorite memory from the 1980s by June 14th and tag it with #MSHWturns30. We’ll pick one winner from the top 100 tweets that are eligible to win. You could take home a commemorative 30th Anniversary Arc Touch mouse. Because after all … you’re the reason we’ve come so far in these past three decades.
* BlueTrack Technology does not work on clear glass or mirrored surfaces.
- Hardware Team