Mice Will Play
Sometimes the most everyday articles get taken for granted. We never much think about them or how they came into being, we just accept them as if they've always been around. Take computer mice, for instance. Did you ever think about why they're called mice, or how they came into being? What follows in this article is an overview of how computer mice came to be invented and found their way into popular use.
You reach for your mouse whenever you want to navigate files on your computer or surf the web. You and your mouse get along just fine. You know just how much you need to manipulate the mouse to get to where you're going and clicking your mouse is as easy as pie. The computer mouse is easy to use and it works. Yet it boggles the mind to think how long it took for the computer mouse to become a part of your daily life.
Your mother may have told you it's impolite to point, yet it's our natural inclination to point at things. It seems strange that it took so long to come up with an effective pointing device. The idea first came into being during the 1960's, but it took some 20 years until computer mice became a part of our popular culture.
The fact is that there wasn't any need to point during the early years of the computer. The computer interfaces back then were more like punch cards or teletype machines. Data entry was done with paper. Even the early computer terminals didn't require any pointing because they too, were similar to the teletype machine but used a screen instead of paper. It wasn't until way into the 1960's and the beginning of the 1970's that arrow keys became standard on computer terminals. The first full screen editors used the cursor keys to good advantage and computer-using humans were glad to have at last found a way to point.
Next on the scene were light pens. These were used as the pointing devices of choice for various machines for many years. Other pointing devices in use during the 1970's included graphics tablets and joy sticks, but none of these really hit the ground running.
Only in 1984, with the advent of the Apple Macintosh did the mouse enter the public's conscious. Since this time, computer mice have made computers user-friendly--so much so that none of us remember how we functioned without computers.
The computer mouse works because it has a very natural feel. Computer mice are inexpensive and take up almost no space on your desk.
Personal computers (PCs) didn't mate well with their mice at first, because there was no interface for them within the old operating systems (OS). When Windows 3.1 at last created the Graphical User Interface (GUI) the mouse caught on very fast as the preferred PC to human interface.
Oh, and yes, they're called mice because of their small size, rounded top which narrows at the front, and tail in the guise of a cord. They look like mice. Natch?