How A Computer Mouse Works – Elf Knows It [ARCHIVED]

Computer mice first came on the public scene in 1984, with the release of the Apple Mac, and since then I don’t think anyone can imagine using a computer without one! So how do they work? And what makes them so important to the user?


A mouse was born…

Computers where around long before the mouse was, when computers first came to life input from the user was usually done in a more crude way, such as punch cards, or 100% text input, in fact arrow keys only appeared on keyboards after a number of years, there was no need for them before hand. Other methods where also used before the mouse, such as joy sticks. Mice where actually produced back in the ’60’s but it took until 1984 for them to go mainstream, which is confusing considering it’s natural for humans to point at things. But once the mouse went public, it was a huge success.


How a mouse works

All mice today use optics to know where to point, that’s what the big red light on your desk is! It wasn’t always like this though, before optical mice was the ball mouse. This worked by a ball on the bottom of the mouse that rolled along the desk when you moved the mouse, this told the mouse what way, and how fast the pointer on screen should go. It was a simple method using the ball, a disc with slits, and an infrared light.


Optical mice

In the late 1990’s optical mice came to life. These work by taking thousands of pictures every second, telling the mouse what movement it has taken. The advantage of optical mice over ball mice is they can be used on almost any surface, and are much more accuarate. They also don’t require cleaning like the old ball mice, and there is no need for a mouse pad.

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