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The Mouse Turns 40

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the well-it-wasn't-born-that-day dept.

Input Devices 169

Smivs writes with an excerpt from the BBC marking the anniversary of what may be the most famous tech demo outside Trinity site: "The humble computer mouse celebrates its 40th anniversary today. On 9 December 1968 hi-tech visionary Douglas Engelbart first used one to demonstrate novel ways of working with computers. The first mouse that Dr Engelbart used in the demo at the Fall Joint Computer Conference (FJCC) was made of wood and had one button. Much of the technology shown off in the demo inspired the creation of the hardware and software now widely used. ... The mouse, which was built by Bill English, helped Dr Engelbart demonstrate how text files could be clipped, copied and pasted as well as showing ways of using computer networks to collaborate on projects or co-edit documents." According to the article, "A day of celebration is planned in California to mark the 40th anniversary; with many of the researchers behind the original demo reunited to mark the event."

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169 comments

Celebration? (4, Funny)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047647)

We're rejoicing over an input device?

No keyboard monument? Or was it overshadowed by the typewriter?

Re:Celebration? (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047995)

This is a dupe. We had a story about this a year ago!

Come to think about it..

Re:Celebration? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048165)

Wow! The 40th anniversary was a year ago? Holy time travel, Batman! When'd I get in 2009?

Re:Celebration? (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048557)

In three weeks!

Travelling back in time is bad enough when it's only jet-lag, imagine being days out: "Sorry I'm late boss, my body still thinks it's Christmas"

Re:Celebration? (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048113)

We're rejoicing that it's obviously going to die soon. Unless they've been touched by John Coffey, if a mouse lives till 40, they're gonna die. Soon. Like, now.

Priorities, people, priorities (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047651)

The Governor of Illinois has been arrested on charges of selling a senatorship to the highest bidder and we're celebrating the birthday of a fucking mouse?

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047709)

Who gives a shit about petty US politics?

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0, Offtopic)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047987)

Answer: People who live in the US. Which happens to be quite a few around this neck of the interwoods. You might be looking for euroslashdot, which is that way -->

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0, Offtopic)

revlayle (964221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048143)

Correction... some people in the US. Even then, not all of them give a shit, esp. on a TECH WEBSITE.

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0, Offtopic)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048185)

Oh, we care. We're nerds, we pay attention to lots of things. Saying that we don't care because this is a "tech" site is ignorant.

I got an e-mail alert from the wall street journal about this, and it's VERY interesting stuff...

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (-1, Offtopic)

revlayle (964221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048283)

I certainly don't care, and I know I am not the only one. Also, I never implied that everyone doesn't care nor did I imply that everyone does care.

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0, Offtopic)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048411)

Yeah, but you know what nobody cares abuot?

This stupid debate over whether anyone cares!

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048421)

Also, I never implied that everyone doesn't care nor did I imply that everyone does care.

So you are saying that percentage that do care is not 0 or 100 but rather somewhere in between. That's a bold statement, but one I think I agree with.

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0, Offtopic)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049421)

correction... some people in the US...

That's why I said "quite a few," and did NOT say "People who live in the US, which is everyone on /." Not everyone does, but slashdot is pretty american-centric by visitors and stories.

I also didn't say "everyone who lives in the US cares about this." I wasn't making absolute statements, I don't know why you read them as such. Maybe to make yourself look smarter when you objected?

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047725)

Oh come on, we already have a special event for when an Illinois politician gets busted for corruption...we call it "Tuesday".

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (3, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049493)

Oh come on, we already have a special event for when an Illinois politician gets busted for corruption...we call it "Tuesday".

I thought it used to be called "Daley?"

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047793)

It's Slashdot. It doesn't typically cover current events. While Blagojevich's corruption is rather astounding, there's no interesting angle of hypocrisy or Schadenfreude. And Slashdot isn't the type of place I'd expect to see an informed discussion of what effect this might have on filling the empty IL-Sen seat (I still say Emil Jones as a placeholder, and elect someone new in 2010).

Other than "holy crap, what a greedy idiot" and the usual "lulz see Democrats, all politicians are eeeeevil", there's not a lot to say.

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (5, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048259)

The Governor of Illinois has been arrested on charges of selling a senatorship to the highest bidder and we're celebrating the birthday of a fucking mouse?

1.) Not everybody is reading this story from Illinois.
2.) The mouse has already survived longer than this scandal has any hopes of being remembered.
3.) What are we supposed to do, collectively worry about what this guy has already done?

We're not Borg and you're not superior for having a spaz attack over it.

Re:Priorities, people, priorities (4, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048455)

Holy shit. This guy is right! How naive we've been! We've been reading news about technology on a technology focused website while this whole time our technology news site should have been posting items that have nothing to do with technology! What kind of crazy mixed up world is this!?!

In other news (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047669)

The mouse was seen at the local Maserati dealership evaluating cars with his 20-something year old girlfriend.

Re:In other news (3, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047887)

Wait, USB has been around 20 years? I didn't know they were even an item, I just thought they were fooling around.

Re:In other news (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048077)

If I were that mouse, I would steer clear of USB...I hear she'll let just about anyone in to her "ports".

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048295)

Ahh the 20 something girlfriend for the old guy. I get a kick out of the guys that do that. Yes I was there (between the last wife and the current one) I was 35 dating a 23 year old. It was fun, all they really are good for is lots and lots of shagging. When they are that young they are crazy. Wanting to go bar hopping wednesday night, all night. Let her go with her friends then screw her drunken brains out when she get's home. you'll get tired of it in 3 months.

Yes, you CAN find a meaningful relationship with that big of an age difference, but mostly it's all about screwing the ever living daylights out of yourself and her and possibly her friend. Bonus points if you can pull off that one.

Remember, the 40 something guy in the new convertible Porsche is simply something for the rest of us who can get laid easily without the car to laugh at. Those girls you attract are nothing more than expensive hookers.

Old guy in a new sporty car = sad joke.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26049399)

for the rest of us who can get laid easily without the car to laugh at.

You sound like one of the ones that use chloroform to get laid

Sarcastic killjoy (1)

NervousWreck (1399445) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047679)

So? 40 means that it's old and obsolete. That ties in perfectly with the fact that I switched my main computer to a laptop with a trackpad.

Obligatory review comment (5, Funny)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047753)

One button. You have to take your hand off the keyboard. Lame.

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047797)

No context. 75% of Slashbots don't get it. Lame.

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047879)

Ah, but the Slashdotters who really matter do get it. And we embrace CowboyNeal's reality-altering vision and fall worshipping at his feet.

Excellent, this analogy to Apple products and culture extends consistently and accurately.

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048243)

I don't get it. I've used one-button with the Macintosh for years and never needed to remove my hand from the keyboard.

Re:Obligatory review comment (3, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048339)

P.S. I remember when I first used a PC, I kept wondering why I needed a second button. Back then (Win 3.1) the right mouse button was rarely used. The left button would be well-worn while the right button still looked new. It took a couple years for Microsoft to invent the idea of right-button context menus. (Or maybe that should be stole? The Commodore Amiga had been using right button menus since 1986.)

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

strength_of_10_men (967050) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048701)

jesus christ. it's been 40 years and the mouse still ONLY has 2 buttons? wtf?

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048803)

Mine has five. A Microsoft's IntelliMouse brand and it has the standard left and right buttons with a center/middle button built into the scroll wheel, and the (really useless) forward and backward buttons on the sides of which annoy me whenever I'm browsing and I hit one of them (backward button) accidentally during cases like posting on forums and haven't hit submit yet (lost EVERYTHING).

Re:Obligatory review comment (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049257)

Actually, your has 7. Even a standard wheel mouse has 5.

1: Left button
2: Middle button (click the wheel)
3: Right button
4: Scroll wheel up (this actually is just a button)
5: Scroll wheel down (this is also just a button)

and your intellimouse adds:
6: Forward button
7: Back button

Try 'xev' on *nix system sometime. ;)

Re:Obligatory review comment (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049171)

jesus christ. it's been 40 years and the mouse still ONLY has 2 buttons? wtf?

It's been 7000 years and the WHEEL still comes in just ONE SHAPE? WTF?

No evidence that people want to use these things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26049355)

The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a mouse. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. - John C. Dvorak

Not just mouse: the mother of all demos (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047759)

What was amazing wasn't just that he unveiled the mouse, but pretty much launched the concept of personal computing as we know it today, including many of the metaphors we take for granted in the modern graphical OS, as well as video communications, email, hypertext... amazing scenes.

Re:Not just mouse: the mother of all demos (1)

PabloD (454044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048505)

If you want to hear more about Doug Englerbart, I recommend reading
What the dormouse said [amazon.com] by John Markoff.
It discusses in detail not only the technical achievements of the main players in the personal
computing but also provides a deep look at their individual philosophies.

Not just mouse: the mother of all demise (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048679)

The original presentation was called "A research center for augmenting human intellect" but the end result of his research is myspace.com.

It appears that he is still alive today [wikipedia.org] - perhaps somebody should ask him what he feels about causing this much pain, suffering, and scourge to be released on mankind?

Re:Not just mouse: the mother of all demise (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048755)

"Pain, suffering, and scourge"

You mean miserable old slashdotters like you? :p

Re:Not just mouse: the mother of all demise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26049489)

I saw Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay and Bill English yesterday at the http://programforthefuture.org/ conference. Actually spoke with Bill English and made a short video of Doug's and Bill's latest take on an input device in action.

Next big thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047761)

So what will be the next big input device? Or are we stuck with mouse and keyboard?

Congrats (5, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047763)

Aw, and it doesn't look a day over 30.

Except it lost its ball. Pretty sad to lose a ball while you're in your prime.

Re:Congrats (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047811)

Except it lost its ball. Pretty sad to lose a ball while you're in your prime.

It may have lost its ball, but look at what it gained...a frickin LASER!

Re:Congrats (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047817)

Except it lost its ball. Pretty sad to lose a ball while you're in your prime.

Oh, I don't know...I hear losing a ball makes it easier to win the Tour de France, so it might not be all bad.

Re:Congrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048559)

Oh, I don't know...I hear losing a ball makes it easier to win the Tour de France, so it might not be all bad.

Ecch, if you really think Lance Armstrong's battle with cancer made anything "easier" for him, you're woefully mistaken.

Re:Congrats (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048925)

Oh, I don't know...I hear losing a ball makes it easier to win the Tour de France, so it might not be all bad.

Ecch, if you really think Lance Armstrong's battle with cancer made anything "easier" for him, you're woefully mistaken.

Dude, it's been over ten years. We can officially make jokes about it and you are allowed to laugh about it. Especially because he himself has done so (see Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story).

Re:Congrats (-1, Flamebait)

Onaga (1369777) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047911)

And if you're a mac user, the other huge change over the past 40 years is more bu^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H new plastic body.

Re:Congrats (1)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048261)

The last time I cleaned out the 'ole crap closet I was about to throw out about 20 mice I had lying around, but I decided to keep the balls.

Let me say that again so I can preempt the jokes: I chucked the rodents and I kept the balls.

Now that we're over that, does anyone have any ideas as to what can be done with them? There's nothing better than a heavy large ball bearing covered in rubberized plastic, but I can't figure out what to do with them and I can't bring myself to throw them out.

Re:Congrats (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048751)

Now that we're over that, does anyone have any ideas as to what can be done with them?

Civil war era steam powered machine gun ammo.
Counterweight and/or ammo for desktop trebuchet.
Include in presents to throw off the weight for those that shake gifts.
Giant marble machine.
Slingshot ammo.
Miniature bowling balls.

Re:Congrats (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048953)

Considering that they alls tarted life with no more than ONE ball, losing that one was always a threat, and of course having only one to start with...

No wonder they got jumpy...

Mouse??? WTF (2, Funny)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047771)

Dude, this is Slashdot. We don't use freakin mice around here. Keyboards are always faster

<CTRL+L>javascript:document.getElementById('Submit').click()

Re:Mouse??? WTF (1)

Onaga (1369777) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048025)

Using KLM-GOMS analysis [wikipedia.org], you are incorrect. Applications with really good shortcuts would be faster with a keyboard. Try browsing CNN keyboard only vs. a mouse and let me know how you do.

And your post may have been tongue-in-cheek, but it wouldn't be slashdot if I didn't reply.

Mouses (4, Funny)

IainMH (176964) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047803)

And lets be clear. The plural of computer mouse is most definitely not 'computer mouses'.

Re:Mouses (5, Interesting)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047965)

We'll begin with box, and the plural is boxes.
But the plural of ox should be oxen, not oxes.
Then one fowl is goose, but two are called geese.
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a whole lot of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
When couldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

The cow in the plural may be cows or kine,
But the plural of vow is vows, not vine.
And I speak of a foot, and you show me your feet,
But I give a boot - would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
If the singular is this and plural is these,
Why shouldn't the plural of kiss be nicknamed kese?

Then one may be that, and three may be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.
We speak of a brother, and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.

The masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine she, shis, and shim!
So our English, I think you will all agree,
Is the trickiest language you ever did see. I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through?

Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead; it's said like bed, not bead;
For goodness sake, don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat,
(they rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

A moth is not a moth in mother.
Nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there.
And dear and fear for bear and pear.

And then there's dose and rose and lose --
Just look them up -- and goose and choose.
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword.

And do and go, then thwart and cart.
Come, come, I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why, man alive,
I'd learned to talk it when I was five.

And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn't learned it at fifty-five!

Original Source Unknown..

Re:Mouses (2, Informative)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048585)

The English language made a lot of sense when it was still Germanic. It had a logical flow.

Then the damn French took-over the island and English became a multilingual language with contradictory grammar rules. Around the year 1500, the damn pronunciation change. For example: "knicht" was originally pronounced the way it was spelt, and therefore easy to read, but suddenly it became pronounced as "nite". Why? Who the hell knows??? And finally, as if the language wasn't already fraked up, the linguists decided "knight" was the proper spelling because they thought the word came from Greece... even though our Anglo-Saxon ancestors came from Asia, not Greece.

And thus we have a language that is part French, part Greek, part German, follows contradictory rules, and spells words based upon verbal pronunciations ("k-night") that nobody has used for over five centuries.

Yeah.

You'd think someone would come along and say, "Enough is enough" and start spelling English the way it sounds: "Enuf is Enuf".

Re:Mouses (1)

ZERO1ZERO (948669) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048845)

You may like this if you haven't seen it before :

English in the European Community:

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v". During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas. If zis mad you smil, pleas pas on to oza pepl. !

Re:Mouses (4, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048891)

"You'd think someone would come along and say, "Enough is enough" and start spelling English the way it sounds: "Enuf is Enuf"."

Already happening! The generation of SMS messengers and facebook status updaters are already setting off down this path.

Re:Mouses (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049081)

The problem is, the way it sound to who .... ...You say tomato I say Tomaytoh....

SMS messaging is simply extending early talker systems and IM system short forms ....and they copies many of those from More Code operators ....

Re:Mouses (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049373)

Already happening! The generation of SMS messengers and facebook status updaters are already setting off down this path.

orly? i dunno wai u think that! imho, its definately ok

Seriously, I think it is far worse than going down that path... Switching to acronyms for words and phrases which hardly spell anything that could be reasonably sounded out would be even more tricky to someone who doesn't already speak the language. That's not to mention all the asinine typos and misspellings which spell out something that would never sound like the word one intended to actually spell.

Re:Mouses (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049339)

For example: "knicht" was originally pronounced the way it was spelt, and therefore easy to read, but suddenly it became pronounced as "nite".

Hmmm... "We are the knichts who say 'nik'!" ... not quite the same.

Re:Mouses (1)

Naznarreb (1274908) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049437)

English spelling and pronunciation are as strange as they seem because of the printing press. William Caxton brought the first printing press to England in the mid to late 1400s. One effect of introducing printing to a language is that it tends to fossilize spelling in a manner particular to the time and the place where the printing is done. Since Caxton was in London in the late 15th century, spelling began to be standardized (generally) in the way that 15th century Londoners spoke. The problem, however, is that while spelling was fossilized, speech was not; it continued to evolve and change in the way that language does, so we have +/- 600 of language change that's trying to be mapped onto spelling conventions that haven't moved nearly as fast (spelling conventions have evolved, just not at the same pace as spoken conventions). People have, throughout the history of English, and most of them have not been particularly successful.

Re:Mouses (3, Interesting)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049199)

The poem (and one line in particular) reminds me of a book of essays by Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) called "The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough."
It's been a long time since I read the book, but the style of your poem could easily pass for a Seuss work (though there are uncharacteristic awkward parts in the above example, for example the kiss line).

I'm not saying it is from that book, nor that Geisel wrote it. I believe the book contained his work from his twenties and early thirties. But it might be fun to read that book if you haven't done so.

Copycats (2, Funny)

Fri13 (963421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047831)

What? They have copied the "one button mouse" idea from Apple!! Damn Copycats!! Thats why Apple needed to invent the Mighty Mouse so there would not be so many copies!

Re:Copycats (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047943)

No, they invented the Mighty Mouse so we'd have another nipple to play with all day long.

Re:Copycats (1)

irondonkey (1137243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048499)

No, they invented the Mighty Mouse so we'd have a nipple to play with all day long.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Copycats (3, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048627)

As as Slashdotter, I resent the implication that I am not, in fact, a mammal.

Off Topic (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047849)

December 9 is a big day. The computer mouse. John Milton. Redd Foxx.

As a tool, computers with the mouse, particularly the WIMP interface, really revolutionized the game. For some things, like repetitive data entry into vertical business apps, I believe the mouse has not contributed to simplicity. It has allowed a user to perform more tasks in such apps, but that complications has been a mixed blessing. And the over complicated mouse, with 20 buttons, and 3D motions, make me craze the old days of the command line, particalarly an intelligent command line like DEC had.

About the mouse: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047881)

The mouse made its debut at a presentation in San Francisco in 1968 to show off a working network computer system. Before the invention of the mouse, people working on computers used a light pen, similar to those wielded by radar operators during the war, to navigate around on screen. The research team at the Institute set about finding an alternative, and went through a range of designs before finally settling on the mouse.

"We set up our experiments and the mouse won in every category, even though it had never been used before," said openly gay Rob Malda. "It was faster, and with it people made fewer mistakes. Five or six of us were involved in these tests, including ESR cumming in my ass, but no one can remember who started calling it a mouse. I'm surprised the name stuck."

The mouse was developed by Xerox during the 1970s, and the first commercial product was released in 1981 with the launch of the Xerox Star computer system. But it wasn't until Apple acquired the license for the mouse for $40,000 from the Standford Institute that the technology really took off. The Apple Macintosh, launched in 1984, used the mouse to good effect, and is the machine widely credited with kick-starting the home computer revolution. The mouse became the default input method on most computers for the next two decades.

However, it faces stiff-cock competition from new technology such as gesture control and touch-screen interfaces. Apple's iPhone mobile phone has shown people the power and potential of touch-screens, and the Nintendo Wii demonstrates the simplicity of natural gestures. Companies such as HP have already started building computers that rely on touch-sensitive monitors rather than a mouse, and Microsoft, too, is experimenting with new user interfaces. Its Surface computer is a touch-screen tablet which responds to natural hand gestures, touch and physical objects.

"I very much doubt we'll be using a mouse in 40 years' time," Michael Simms, an analyst at Gartner Research, told the Observer over a frosty mug of chilled rabbit semen.

Malda, the uber-fag, did not make a fortune from his creation, Slashdot,however. The patent he had on the device ran out shortly before Apple launched it to a wider audience, meaning he received no royalties for his invention. However, in 1998 he finally received recognition for his innovative design when the then president, Bill Clinton, awarded him the National Medal of Technology for creating the foundations of modern computing.

40 Years and Still... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26047917)

40 years old and Apple STILL can't make a decent mouse.
Remember the hockey puck one? What a god awful piece of crap that was.

Jobs'd

I can't do with these new fangled inventions (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26047993)

I can't do with these new fangled inventions. They don't help. They just slow you down. In my day with a few "vi" keystrokes I could out edit any wysywyg app.

:wq

:wq!

(what's happening. How do I get out of this)

Re:I can't do with these new fangled inventions (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048615)

Personally I'm happy the mouse was invented. I remember my first word processor was RUNscript on a C=64, and although it worked just fine, it was a royal pain in the butt to constantly look-up commands. "How do I make bold? Ahhh, .bb - okay now how do I end bold? Hmmm." (pulls down the manual again).

Having the commands immediately available electronically is far superior to having to constantly look things up in a book.

Guess what else is 40 years old? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048203)

This story: How to clean your mouse This memo is from an unnamed computer company. It went to all field engineers about a computer peripheral problem. The author of this memo was quite serious. The engineers rolled on the floor. "Mouse balls are now available as FRU (Field Replacement Unit). Therefore, if a mouse fails to operate or should it perform erratically, it may need a ball replacement. Because of the delicate nature of this procedure, properly trained personnel should only attempt replacement of mouse balls. Before proceeding, determine the type of mouse balls by examining the underside of the mouse. Domestic balls will be larger and harder than foreign balls. Ball removal procedures differ depending upon the manufacturer of the mouse. Foreign balls can be replaced using the pop-off method. Domestic balls are replaced by using the twist-off method. Mouse balls are not usually static sensitive. However, excessive handling can result in sudden discharge. Upon completion of ball replacement, the mouse may be used immediately. It is recommended that each replacer have a pair of spare balls for maintaining optimum customer satisfaction. Any customer missing his balls should suspect local personnel of removing these necessary items."

Re:Guess what else is 40 years old? (1)

redscare2k4 (1178243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048521)

Mod parent up!!

Any customer missing his balls should suspect local personnel of removing these necessary items."

That's the best part :D

Re:Guess what else is 40 years old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048915)

>> The author of this memo was quite serious.

No.

Re:Guess what else is 40 years old? (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049423)

my balls are old and dried out after only 40 years i should look into this....

Re: The Mouse Turns 40 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048351)

... cleaning mouse balls jokes turn 39.

Fun with captions (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26048371)

I had a good laugh at the photo caption: "The basic workings of a mouse have changed little in 40 years".

The way I remember it, the mouse progressed from two perpendicular wheels on the bottom, to a ball that drove two internal wheels with an optical encoder. to optical mice using a reflective pad. to optical mice using surface image capture. And that's not to mention the mouse-like devices in between (trackpoint, touch pads, trackballs...) and permutations of mouse features (wireless, multiple buttons, scroll wheels). Saying that the mouse has changed little is like saying that TVs have changed little in 40 years.

used oscilloscopes years before memory chip (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048619)

Computer screens as we know them, did not start becoming generally available until the mid 1970s. The breakthrough was an inexpensive memory chip large enough to hold 5 by 7 patterns of ascii characters 5 x 7 x 40 (1400 bits) and 80 x 48 screenfull of characters (19K at 6 bits per character). A bit of memory cost about $1 until Intel introduced the first kilobyte chips in 1970 (two years after Englebert's demo) dropping the bit price to pennies in mid 1970s. Then it became practical to sell character computer terminals. Before then computer users used punchcards, punchtapes, teletypes, and line printers.

These were character screens however. Graphics screens took another 10-15 to become personal. The first generation were programmable oscilloscopes, i.e. vector drawing machines. They had their special graphics languages, e.g. GKS, that emulated pen plotters. Limited bit map grapics came in the meantime. Steve Wozniak is famous for one baroque scheme of graphics in the Apple II. It wasnt pure bitmap as we know today. Xerox PARC sold the first B&W bitmaps at $30K a pop ($120K in 2008$). Then about 1980s the first general purpose color raster screen computers came out. At $30K a terminal these were shared in a lab. That was because a megabyte still cost $10K. Finally as memory prices dropped "workstation"-class computers came out around 1985 giving each scientist their personal graphics screen. This was SUN Microsystems original product.

In 2008 I bought a $7 cellphone with 64K pixel color graphics screen.

Re:used oscilloscopes years before memory chip (1)

hurfy (735314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049393)

lol, our oldest terminal was several years old at the time in early 80's. It had 2 8x10" boards and more inside to display simple monochrome text. It didn't even do bold, underline, or squares!

Side buttons.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26048841)

Does anyone else dislike when the pressure spots on the side of the mouse are buttons? Maybe I'm just old, but thats how I move the mouse around (pinch between thumb and ring finger - use index and middle for left and right) ... and I always end up getting extraneous clicks when the sides are buttons. I'd turn this off on my own PC, but its when I use a customer's PC on site. erg.

big demo video (0, Offtopic)

themusicgod1 (241799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26049187)

Does anyone know where a free (let's make clear: not realmedia 2 or whatever) online copy of the Big Demo may be found?
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