The Evolution Of The Computer Mouse

Dan Glass
Dan Glass
Managing Editor

For as long as most people remember we have always used a mouse or the tracking pad to guide our cursor to where it needs to go. However, it hasn’t always been this way. Back in the early days of computing, data could only be entered via the keyboard which was extremely limiting. The journey to the advanced ergonomic creations we have today by the likes of Logitech was a reiterative process with hundreds of failures for every success.

The first computer mouse was an extremely rudimentary invention created by Douglas Engelbart in 1964. It had a wooden shell and two metal wheels that would spin when moved along a surface. Although it didn’t look like much, Engelbart’s creation sparked a revolution that fundamentally changed how people used computers.

Revolutions don’t happen overnight though. It wasn’t until 8 years later in 1972 that Bill English developed his “Ball Mouse”. The ball design was a massive success and became the staple of any office for decades to come, but it wasn’t without its issues. Dirt and grime would be collected and clog the mechanism; not to mention the clown coworkers that hide the balls sniggering as you erratically slammed the mouse on your desk repeatedly trying to get it to work.

The next revolution arrived in 1980 with the optical mouse that completely removed the need for the ball and were first sold by Xerox in 1988. It consisted of LEDs and photodiodes on its underside to detect movement across a surface.

Now I know what you’re thinking, if optical mice had been around since the late 80s, why was I still stuck with the archaic ball well into the year 2000? Well the new design was  only commercially viable after 1998 as the price of components dropped and even then it was still pricey to replace an office worth of mice. But the pranksters of the office could still rejoice in tormenting their colleagues by taping the underside of their mice.

Throughout the half century history of the computer mouse, there has been plenty of failure and success. Pioneering models paved the way for more user friendly designs and ergonomics have had their say on what shape the ideal mouse is. No two mice have been the same and all served different purposes to the user.

Throughout all the models we have compiled a list of our favourite commercial mice that changed the game forever.

Logitech P4 1982

Logitech, a Swiss company founded in 1981, introduced its first mouse, the P4. The optomechanical technology combined the rolling ball with optical encoders that could track the balls movement with precision. After securing a contract with HP it manage to sell close to 25,000 units per year.


Microsoft “Green eyed”  Mouse 1983

The Microsoft Mouse, nicknamed “Green eyed” due to its two green buttons, was the first mouse that Microsoft released. It featured a smoother exterior than other mouses available at the time and used a steel ball on the base for tracking.

Logitech C7 1985

Logitech entered the retail world with its C7. It was the first optomechanical mouse that could draw its power directly from the computer port rather than needing a separate power supply.

Microsoft “Dove bar” Mouse 1987

Microsoft improved its 1983 creation to make its first ergonomically designed mouse. It was nicknamed the “Dove bar” due to its sleek design that was not dissimilar to a bar of Dove soap that could fit snugly into the users hand.

Logitech Trackman 1989

With a thumb operated trackball, the first of its kind, this mouse can be kept stationary on your work desk. Although trackballs fell out of popularity due to their steep learning curve, they are still widely revered by enthusiasts and recently brought back with Logitech’s MX Ergo last year; their first in nearly 10 years.

Logitech Mouseman 1991

Logitech had previously attempted to make  a cordless mouse in 1984 using infrared (IR), the same technology as your TV remote, but the line-of-sight constrained were too limiting for practical use. Introducing the Logitech Mouseman that was the first cordless mouse to use radio-frequency (RF) technology, the same as your wireless xbox controller.


Genius EasyScroll 1995

Produced by Mouse Systems and invented by Eric Michelman, this was the first mouse to incorporate the scroll wheel and vastly improved the user experience as a result. The design was so popular that Microsoft included it in its 1996 Intellimouse.

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 1999

Called the “most radical computer mouse technology and design advancement” by Microsoft themselves, the Intellimouse Explorer was the first mouse to use IntelliEye optical tracking technology. No longer was a pad needed as this mouse could be used on any flat surface as long as it wasn’t transparent.

Logitech MX1000 2004

The last mouse on our list is the first mouse to use laser tracking technology. A massive improvement over the LED based designs previously used, lasers could track on surfaces that others failed at due to their ability to capture greater surface detail.

Since 2004 Logitech has still been breaking new ground in the capabilities of computer mice. Most of Logitech products now allow the ability to move the cursor across two computers with the ability to copy and paste between them. They also offer mice with up to 3 year battery lives and mice with a 90% noise reduced click. Logitech have been the pioneers in the mouse game since their inception in 1981 and continue to astonish us by constantly breaking new ground. For whatever your need mouse needs Logitech are surely to have a product that satisfies your needs.


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