What is a Computer Mouse?

Learn what is a computer mouse and the types of mice available today. This piece of computer hardware connects to your computer to help you control cursor movement and pointing ability on the PC screen.

Doug Engelbart, Scientist at Menlo Park, California's Stanford Research Institute, came up with the idea of a pointing device back in the 60's.

A computer mouse makes navigation simple by allowing you to freely move your cursor around your screen. This allows you to perform functions of your computer with ease. Mice are known for the ease they give point and click navigation.
They are also known for how well they work with all the different types of computers on the market today; the technology is so cross-system compatible it's rare to see any issues when you choose to go from one type of mouse to another on your system.

They are referred to as mice because the original basic mice were in the shape of a mouse and the wire (connecting the mouse to the PC) looked like the tail of the little creatures (see the image on the right).

A mouse comes standard when you purchase a package desktop PC, although you may have the option of choosing the type of mouse you want ... basic, optical, trackball or wireless (with price adjustments based on the style you choose).
The small ball on the underside of a mouse provides the cursor motion. Laptop computers have the mouse on the keyboard and can be identified as a small raised rubber button, trackball, or touchpad.
Optical mice look a lot like basic mice except their underside is flat and an optical scan is used to track cursor movements. Optical mice can now glide pretty smoothly on flat surfaces, and don't require you to use a mousepad.

Since optical mice don't have parts that move, including no ball to roll around, you can easily clean the mouse with a quick wipe of the bottom with a damp cloth once in a while. Standard mice however you need to take apart, clear the dust and debris collected, replace the ball or change mousepads regularly.

Button, Button, Who Has The Button?

Mice for PC's have a right & left button unlike Macintosh computers; their mice usually have just 1 button.

Touchpads and trackballs offer up to 4 buttons. Most people will never use more than one or two but they are handy to have if you do extensive designing, programming or other repetitive work. Software is available to program the buttons to do the shortcuts and functions you need.
Scrolling Is The Way To Go

Many mice today have a wheel that scrolls and sits between the left & right mouse buttons and is controlled vertically.

The scroll wheel gives you greater flexibility in maneuvering up/down a page; making text larger/smaller; and a variety of other functions you can program with the software that came with the scroll mouse. Using a scroll feature can cut time and save energy once you get the hang of it.


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