Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Re-inventing the Wheel

I was checking out a couple of pics that I had received via email, and clicking on the pictures opened them in "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" (I use Windows 2003 on my Workstation.) The images all opened up at fit to page resolution. I was using the magnify icon to enlarge the picture, when accidentally I the wheel turned and lo! the image was magnified! Kewl! Led me thinking. That was an interesting use of the wheel. In fact, once I got the hang of it, it seemed so logical!(Hmm...maybe topic for some other day! Our habits and dogmas seem so "obvious" and "logical" so much so that those two words invariably let us end up arguing against other point of views.) Coming back to the Wheel, it is placed between the two buttons and yet, it can be used comfortably. I haven't tried out the thumb wheel variety, and I use a "Ball" instead of a "Wheel" at home, which isn't that comfortable. It is difficult to gauge whether the ball movement would be horizontal or vertical if are on the 270th page and your processor is busy opening up the remaining 1200 pages!
Tracing its origins brought me to Tools of the Trade - a History of the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard. There I learnt that
Microsoft is one of a small group of companies that includes Boeing, AT&T Wireless and General Motors to employ licensed ergonomists as part of their design teams.


In designing these tools, Microsoft analyses user behaviour and usage patterns. To help ensure a comfortable and productive experience, Microsoft hardware is thoroughly tested by both ergonomists and volunteer users from around the world to test factors like natural hand positioning and common keystrokes and functions.


1983
The grey box-shaped mouse is the first ever Microsoft Mouse, designed to allow users to easily navigate a new computer processing programme called Word. Commonly referred to as the ‘green-eyed mouse’ because of its two green buttons, the first Microsoft Mouse sold for $195. (Wow! ~200$ for a mouse!!!)

1985
The newly designed Microsoft Mouse 5.0 offers users higher resolution and quieter(??!!!) operation. Mouse 5.0 became Microsoft’s first award-winning hardware product.(So the designers of the mouse had really meant it to mimic a real one! Hehehe, so the mouse used to squeak, eh? Wonder why don't they introduce it again, and bandy it as a funky, Gen-X (whatever) mouse)

1993
...
In the same year, the Ballpoint Mouse rides aboard NASA’s space shuttle Discovery.

And this is what I was looking for...

1996
Combined with the award-winning ergonomic design of the Mouse 2.0 the Microsoft Intellimouse introduces the first scroll wheel, today’s most popular mouse feature.


It's amazing to look at today's Bluetooth, Optical, 5 button, 2 wheel, 1 ball mouse and wonder at the journey that this non-furry, pointing device that has been named after Mus Musculus (Well, that's a guess, a harmless one I guess ;) )

Some Trivia first:
First Computer Mouse - 1963
Inventor - Douglas Engelbart of Stanford Research Center in 1963

To conclude this post, a few links I found interesting:
1. CNN - Say cheese: Computer mouse turns 30 - December 9, 1998
2. What is mouse? - A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary
3. COMPUTER HISTORY 1957-1979

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