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Monday, March 12, 2001
On Hardware

…and the mouse will play
By Jasjot Singh Narula

MOUSE is a device that deciphers the motion of the user’s hand, converts it into signals and transmits it onwards to a computer instructing it what to do—exactly. This is a device that makes modern computing possible this day.

Initially, the keyboard was the only device for punching in commands when the text mode was in use. Later, with the graphical environment becoming an inseparable part of the computing world, mouse became indispensable.

In the graphical environment the mouse maintains the effectiveness and efficiency of programs and applications. Modern-day Net applications wouldn’t have been possible without a mouse or it wouldn’t be nearly as fast or effective.


The five common actions that can be performed through this device are:

a) Point

b) Click

c) Double click (i.e. click twice briskly)

d) Right click

e) Drag

The joke that makes rounds in the IT-circles is that a male chauvinist created the mouse so that ladies who dread this hairy mammalian remain out of its reach. Did you know that this device, which is now an integral part of the computer system, was the brainchild of Douglas C. Englebart, who to the best of our knowledge did not have such tendencies?

This idea clicked on him in 1964 at the Stanford Research Institute but it took him four years to give it a final shape. Incidentally, Englebart was the same person who gave us hypertext and windowing system. The first mouse was made of wood, in the shape of a box, and was popular in the text mode because of its accuracy and usability.

The first mouse went public with the introduction of Apple Macintosh in 1984. Since then they have completely redefined the way we use computers.

There are different types of mouse available in the market that varies in technology, feature, price and durability. While selecting a mouse the buyer should not compromise on the quality and should know the specifications and it’s functioning.

Mouse can be categorised mainly as:

Serial and PS/2 interface mouse: This is used most often. The simple or serial mouse with a chord works with the movement of the ball that is ensconced within the outer shell. When the mouse-ball touches the mouse pad it rolls. The mouse ball is physically in contact with two rollers, which are at right angle to each other. These rollers are connected to a shaft. As the rollers moves, the shaft and the disk within it also move. The rotating ball turns the shafts and sensors inside the mouse measure the shafts’ rotation. The onboard processor chip reads these rotations and turns them into binary data (in 01 form). The information is transmitted through the connecting wire, that is the mouse’s "tail". The computer then moves the mouse pointer on the screen to follow the movements of the mouse.

Scroll mouse: In a scroll mouse there is a round ball in the centre of the two click buttons. Its main aim is to scroll up and down the window by just revolving the ball. Such a mouse is also known as Web mouse.

The simplicity of these two types of mouse is its main drawback. As we use the mouse, the ball picks up dust, hair and other debris and these accumulate on the rollers that cause skipping and sticking. The simple way to eradicate this problem is to clean the mouse regularly and use a good quality of mouse pad.

The other two types of mouse, optical and the cordless ones are immune to dust particles. They are expensive and are normally used by those who have to perform a lot of graphic work.

Optical mouse: The optical mouse works on the low intensity light source, usually red LED (Light Emitting Device) on the bottom of the mouse that shines on a special mouse pad, which is imprinted with a grid of lines. The mouse reads movements as the light shines on the lines and is reflected back into the mouse.

Cordless mouse: The cordless mouse is based on the generation-next technology as it works on the digital radio technology. This type of mouse can work in a two-meter (six foot) range without being pointed at the computer. These are expensive.