The mouse, an unknown creature
Despite touchpads and touchscreens, almost all computer workstations have another input device (also known as a human interface device) in addition to the obligatory keyboard: the mouse.
Douglas C. Engelbart and William English invented and developed this cute desk rodent - which actually got its nickname because of its size, shape and connection cable. Development began as early as 1963, and the basic patents were granted in 1970 - long before graphical user interfaces became standard and that could have been controlled with it. However, there were already comfort options such as confirmation buttons or selection menus on purely text-based terminals, but these had to be selected using the keyboard cursor or TAB key: so the idea behind it was not completely pointless.
Mice were used in practice from 1973 onwards on the Xerox Alto, which was the first computer to have a graphical user interface as standard. However, the "mouse" operating concept did not really catch on until 1984, when the Apple Macintosh set out to revolutionise the operation of computers worldwide.
The first PC mice did not bear much resemblance to what stands next to our keyboards today: In the original patent, horizontal and vertical movement was actually sensed by wheels. Because this did not prove to be particularly comfortable or practical, Xerox Alto was the first to use a mouse with ball scanning, in the development of which William English was also involved. The concept was so convincing that mice with balls became the standard for almost two decades.
Of course, the necessary cable was criticised from the beginning, but the power consumption of the mechanical scanning and the necessary miniaturisation of the wireless technology posed some problems for the manufacturers at that time. Although there were various proprietary solutions from individual manufacturers in the mid to late 1990s (including infrared transmission instead of radio), wireless mice did not really become suitable for large-scale production until the early 2000s, when Microsoft and Logitec brought out mice based on the new Bluetooth technology.
A little earlier than the cable, the annoying ball was replaced: from the mid-90s, Sun Microsystems and Logitec offered so-called laser mice that optically scanned the surface with a laser diode. A real blessing, because the original rubberised metal balls easily collected dirt (and hand sweat) from the surface and had to be cleaned frequently and laboriously in order to function properly!Conclusion: No mouse, no action on the PC. Touchscreens and touchpads are handy when you're on the move or on mobile devices, but having to tap on the monitor hundreds of times a day at your desk is far more tiring than quickly pushing the mouse into the right position with a quick movement of your wrist. And how voice control is supposed to work in an open-plan office is also questionable, to say the least. So: In the near future, the mouse will continue to be a faithful companion!