Computer Mice

The Varieties of Computer Mice

A computer mouse is a peripheral or input device, used with computers as a pointing device to navigate on the screen of a computer. It functions by detecting motion relative to its supporting surface that users move. The motion translates into the motion of a pointer on a computer display or screen, allow for control of a graphical user interface (GUI). Computer mice can be simplistic, without any additional elements, or they may include wheels or extra buttons or features that enable more dimensional input.

Before the mouse, computers came equipped with a trackball attached to the keyboard. However, trackballs weren't nearly as efficient. It was back in 1982 when Microsoft developed the first PC-compatible mouse, and the then MS-DOS version of Microsoft Word was mouse-compatible. Even though the mouse was available to the public in 1983, it remained relatively obscure until 1984 when Macintosh released the Macintosh 128K computer, complete with a Lisa Mouse. From that point on, the computer mouse became mainstream. Since that time, several variants of the computer mouse are available. Some of these variants include mechanical mice, optical and laser mice, inertial and gyroscopic mice, and gaming mice.

Computer Mice

Mechanical mice

A mechanical mouse has a ball and two freely rotating rollers, located 90 degrees apart. One of the rollers detects forward and backward motion of the mouse, while the other roller detects the left and right motion. There is also a smaller spring-loaded third wheel which pushes the ball against the two rollers. Driver software within a computer detects the motion of the mouse and converts it into motion of the cursor on the computer screen.

Optical and laser mice

Optical mice have at least one light-emitting diode (LED) to detect movement, rather than a ball with rollers. Laser mice, similarly, use a coherent (laser) light to detect movement.

Inertial and gyroscopic mice

These mice are often called "air mice" because they do not require a surface to operate. These mice also do not have balls or rollers. Instead, they use a tuning fork or other accelerometer to detect axis movement.

Gaming mice

Mice designed specifically for use in computer games are known as gaming mice. They normally have more controls and buttons than standard mice, and their designs look radically different from traditional mice. Gaming mice are also generally super-sensitive.

The amount of buttons or additional features on a mouse varies between styles of mice. The most common type of mouse has two buttons and a scroll wheel. The scroll wheel is for scrolling up and down on a computer screen. The buttons on a mouse are microswitches that are pressed to select or interact with an element of a GUI. The left button is generally for selecting, dragging, or executing something on the screen whereas the right button is typically used to open a menu of settings or options.