How Does a Computer Mouse Work?

 Did you know that the computer mouse was first invented by a World War II veteran? In 1964, Douglas C. Engelbart constructed his mouse with...

 Did you know that the computer mouse was first invented by a World War II veteran? In 1964, Douglas C. Engelbart constructed his mouse with a wooden shell, circuit board, and two metal wheels that rolled across the surface that the mouse was set on.

Twenty years later, Macintosh made the computer mouse a popular way to control desktop mouses, and they’ve advanced ever since then. Want to learn more about this incredible invention and how it has evolved over the years?

Read on to learn all about how the computer mouse works here!

What is a Mechanical Computer Mouse? 

Today, we’ve evolved away from the mechanical computer mice that you used when you were younger. These mechanical predecessors had a metal or rubber ball on their undersides. As you moved the mouse in one direction or another, the ball rolled as well, signaling sensors about its position.

Although mechanical computer mice worked fine, one of their main drawbacks was how easily dust and dirt got caught up inside the mouse by the metal or rubber ball.
Cleaning your mouse was a necessity because if they were clogged with dirt and dust, the sensors wouldn’t work.

What is an Optical Computer Mouse? 
Optical mice are the most common type of computer mice that you can find on the market today. Developed by Microsoft in 1999, they use either LEDs (light-emitting diodes) or lasers to track movement instead of the mechanical mouse’s metal or rubber ball.

The word “optical” relates to sight, and this gives you a big clue about how an optical mouse operates. Each optical mouse is equipped with a tiny camera that takes thousands of pictures a second. These pictures are then analyzed by a digital signal processor (DSP), which quickly analyzes each picture for light and pattern changes.

Instantaneously, the mouse cursor on your screen moves the appropriate amount in relation to how much you’ve physically moved the mouse.
Since it’s taking thousands of pictures in order to determine how you’ve moved your mouse, you can see why using your mouse on mirrored or reflective surfaces make it harder for the DSP to analyze patterns and light of each image.

Regardless, optical mice are a huge step-up in quality compared with mechanical or optical-mechanical mice.

What is a Laser Computer Mouse? 
A laser mouse is similar to an optical mouse in that it shines a light on the surface the mouse is resting on. It also takes thousands of pictures through a CMOS sensor that are then analyzed. However, a laser mouse uses a laser, while an optical mouse uses LEDs.

Although you’ll find that lasers work easier on reflective or glass surfaces, they are prone to picking up too much information at high speeds, making them inaccurate if you’re quickly swiping your mouse around.

You’ll also find that laser mice come with more DPI (dots-per-inch). This measures how sensitive a mouse is to movement. The more DPI, the more accurate you’re able to be with your mouse–a boon for gamers or artists.

Laser mice used to be far more expensive than optical mice because of the increased build quality and specs, but now that technology has advanced so far, the prices for both can be even.

How to Choose the Best Mouse?
You’ll want to focus on either an optical or laser mouse since mechanical mice are now outdated. Plus, both optical and laser mice are now inexpensive.
Consider your reasons for upgrading your mouse. This is for one of five reasons or a combination of the five:

  • Comfort
  • Utility
  • Accuracy
  • Speed
  • Responsiveness

If comfort is your major concern, then focus on the build quality of the mice you’re looking at and not so much the optical vs. laser conundrum. If you want more buttons on the side of your mouse for work and gaming, this also depends on how the mouse is constructed.
You can see that there are many features available or unavailable depending on the mouse you choose.

However, if you’re looking for speed and responsiveness for gaming, optical mice are largely recommended over laser mice. This is because as long as you have a mouse pad beneath, optical mice are more reliable compared to laser mice. Remember that laser mice have the issue of becoming more inaccurate the faster you move them–the optical mice don’t have the same problem.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a mouse that will enable you to right-click on Mac computer, you should stop your search now. No matter what mouse you have, you can right-click on your Mac computer using this simple tutorial:
The Technology of Today
The invention of a computer mouse and its growing popularity with Macintosh desktop computers affected the way we interact with technology.

Although today we’re growing more used to using our fingers to manipulate screen elements or even our voices to take control, computer mice will still be the main way to control computers for the foreseeable future.

With a keyboard and mouse, gamers can play anything from action to strategy games effortlessly. Artists have a higher degree of control. And when you’re just browsing the Internet, sometimes it’s far more comfortable to use a mouse then it is to reach forward and swipe with a finger.

Ready to learn more about technology and the Internet today? Keep reading our blog for more informative articles!



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How Does a Computer Mouse Work?
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