Although more and more people are buying tablets and mobile phones, a mouse remains one of the most basic pieces of equipment for any PC user. By detecting two dimensional movement of the mouse, a computer interprets those signals, moving a pointer on a screen. The pointer allows users to manipulate easily graphical user interface (GUI).
Computer mouses come in a variety of forms; the traditional ones are small objects that can fit in the palm of your hand with two buttons and sometimes a wheel. Laptops and netbooks usually have touchpads or other built in mouses and there are even special mouses for gamers.
Types of Computer Mouses
Douglas Engelbart, an influential early computer engineer designed the first mouse. It had two large wheels, allowing users to roll the device along a surface. It was called a mouse because the cord attached to it resembled a mouse’s tail.
Since Engelbart’s mouse, advances have led to a wide selection available for personal use, depending on a user’s needs. There are special mouses for gamers, architects and even people who need ergonomically friendly equipment.
- Optical mouse: Optical mouses rely on LEDs and photodiodes to measure movements relative to a surface. Similar devices using lasers are also on the market and many are now cordless and use batteries, connecting to the computer by bluetooth.
- Air mouse: Air mouses do not require a surface to work. Instead they rely on tuning forks to recognize movement. Manufacturers claim that these mouses use less power and are more ergonomic for users.
- 3D mouse: These mouses were popular in the early to mid 90s and functioned by using ultrasound. Some were designed to slip around a user’s finger like a ring. In recent years, similar technology has been utilized in products like the Nintendo Wii remote.
- Ergonomic mouse: These mouses use all of the same technologies as other modern mouses, but are designed to fit the user’s hand to provide optimal comfort while avoiding conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.
- Gaming mouse: Some mouse companies have released specialized gaming mouses used for first person shooters (FPS). These mouses have extra buttons
- Touchpads: Also called trackpads, these devices come standard on most laptops and netbooks now and uses capacitive sensors to note the presence of a human finger or fingers on the pad.
Using a Mouse
Using a standard mouse can require a little patience if you are new to computing, but they are designed to be intuitive and will allow you to smoothly interface with a PC.
When you move the mouse a pointer will move on your computer screen. This allows you to select and open programs and files using GUI rather than command line interface which requires you to type commands through a program.
There are usually two buttons on a mouse. The left click allows you to select or open a program and this is the primary function of the mouse. Right click performs the function of calling a context menu. If you have left clicked object on the desktop once, thereby selecting it, you can then right click. A pop up menu will appear with choices, such as “open”, “copy”, “paste” or “delete”.
Some newer mouses come with wheels in between the two buttons. These wheels can be manipulated to scroll up and down a page. This reduces the amount of clicking and makes it easier for users to interact with their computers.
Touchpads all have similar functions to external mouses. However, with a touch pad the user has more opportunity to use motion to manipulate the point and the various commands associated with the mouse.
- The Demo that Changed the World is a video from the Smithsonian showing Douglas Engelbart demonstrating the mouse for the first time.
- How to Program a Mouse on Mac OS X or Linux from Stack Overflow, a leading computer programming Q&A site.
- Mouse Program allows new users to practice their mouse skills online.
- The Palm Beach Public Library offers mouse tutorials for beginners.
- The Top 10 Computer Mice from PC Mag.
- A Visual History of the Mouse