Everyone’s Favorite Rodent

You fondle it. You move it about. You click it. You might even smear your boogers on it.

It’s the lowly computer mouse. Something you’ve rarely, if ever, given any serious thought to. You should have, though. It has an interesting story behind it. Did you ever wonder where the computer mouse came from? I mean… who would have thought of such a whacked out thing? Bill Gates? Nah. Linus Torvalds? Nah… actually, the computer mouse was invented six years before Linus was born. Got your curiosity up yet?

Earlier this evening, I was sitting here munching on a bowl of Crispy Hexagons. It’s a generic knockoff of Kellogg’s® Crispix® cereal sold by a local grocery chain here in my area. Anyway, on the back of the box was a series of brief articles about inventions. One of them was the computer mouse. I read it and thought, “WOW! I didn’t know that.” So I did a little online research and decided to post an article here about what I learned. Amazing where you can find inspiration for blog articles, huh?

It seems that back in 1963 an engineer named Douglas Englebart working for the Standford Research Institute was piddling around in the lab one day and cobbled together a device that could convert physical motion (on a desktop, for instance) into input data for other uses. Englebart called the device a mouse because the connecting wire reminded him of a mouse’s tail. The invention was just a part of Engelbart’s much larger project, aimed at augmenting human intellect.

John C. Dvorak, a well known columnist for PC Magazine and other periodicals and websites, once said, “There is no evidence that people want to use these things.” HA! Hope you didn’t have any money on that horse, John. Sadly, Englebart’s patent ran out before the mouse came into popular usage with modern personal computers. He never made a penny off of his invention. The good ol’ computer mouse… where would we be without it?

Mice are like shoes, too. Everyone has their own favorite. I prefer trackballs. I started using one (a Logitech Trakman) about six or seven years ago and just never turned back. I used to be into gaming (1st person shooters) back then and found that I could play much faster and more accurately with the trackball rather than the standard mouse. It requires a lot less desktop real estate, since you don’t have to move the actual mouse to navigate.

What’s your favorite?

Until next time, folks…

Happy Tails… er, I mean Trails.


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  • ebrke  On April 27, 2010 at 15:46

    Ha, you’re right, Eric. Trackballs are great and less strain on arm/shoulder muscles. I have a Logitech trackball for the thumb–is yours like that or is it the one for the index finger?

  • Buffet  On April 28, 2010 at 02:12

    “Here I come to save the day!”

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On April 28, 2010 at 09:47

      Heh! One of my favorite cartoon characters when I was growing up. Thanks a lot, Buffet. Now that theme song will be playing in my head all damned day.

  • Securitybreach  On April 28, 2010 at 07:18

    I was just about to ask which trackball you use in Linux. Looking at your picture, its looks like you use the Logitech Optical Trackman Trackball. I have never used a trackball but I think I might order that one next week from TigerDirect. They have it for $26 http://tinyurl.com/397ktsw

    Thanks Eric

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On April 28, 2010 at 09:54

      Nah… it’s a just a plain ol’ wired trackball. I don’t to anything wireless… too new fangled for this old fart. Heh!

  • JoanthanPDX  On April 28, 2010 at 13:46

    Wow…a wooden mouse. I’m surprised someone doesn’t make custom-built mice out of expensive woods tailor made for the user’s hand.

    Original Mouse image: http://gizmodo.com/assets/resources/2007/10/first_mouse_3.jpg

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On April 28, 2010 at 15:23

      Hmm… interesing idea, custom made wooden mice.

      Thanks for reading and for the comments.


  • Sunrat  On April 29, 2010 at 02:57

    Maybe almost everyone’s favorite rodent. 🙂 Mouse is No.2 for me.
    I use a nine year old Logitech Mouseman Wheel which was $AU99 back in 2001. Expensive? Maybe then, but it’s been worth every cent because of it’s sculpted ergonomic design (for right handers only), rugged reliability and the cool blue LED inside. Still as good as the day I bought it and no carpal tunnel syndrome or RSI.

    • V. T. Eric Layton  On April 29, 2010 at 13:28

      AH! Ratus Solarus Amicus (for you Latin-challenged, that’s Friend Sunrat)… welcome to my world!



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