'Mouse' Turns 40 Today!

by VR Sreeraman on Dec 1 2008 6:57 PM

One computer device could be called as being most 'in touch' with humans -the mouse, which celebrates it's 40th birth anniversary today.

The first computer mouse, developed 4 decades ago, was a little wooden box with a single red button on top and a wire hanging from the back, because of which it was likened to a rodent.

And while computers have transformed from big white boxes to cool flat screens and laptops, the mouse has, more or less, stayed the same.

But, its designer, Douglas Engelbart, is not a rich man giving orders in a huge IT firm.

The 83-year-old American, who worked on the mouse at California's Stanford Research Institute, never got any royalties because the patent expired before it became a must-have.

It was in 1981 that Xerox included a mouse with their Star computer system, followed by Apple, which offered one with their Macintosh system, a few years later.

And then Microsoft made it the standard device for navigating their Windows system.

With more and more innovations- like a second, third and fifth button- the mouse today has bid adieu to the rubber trackball to be replaced by more accurate infra-red technology.

Now many of the devices are cordless too, doing away with the reason they were called a mouse in the first place.

However, Apple's innovative touchscreen technology on its iPhone and iPod Touch gadgets might just send the mouse into oblivion.

"I very much doubt that we'll be using the mouse in 40 years' time," the Sun quoted Steve Prentice, an analyst at Gartner Research, as saying.