May 16, 2007
The mouse wheel is so integral to my mousing experience now that it's difficult to imagine using a GUI without one. Although I clearly remember using mice without scroll wheels, I can't recall exactly when the transition occurred-- when mouse wheels became a standard, expected feature on every mouse as they are today.
The first reference to a mouse with a wheel I can find is the Genius EasyScroll mouse, which was released in 1995.
With those terrible aesthetics, it's not surprising that mouse wheels weren't truly popularized until the first Microsoft Intellimouse was released in 1996.
I would argue that the mouse wheel is the first true mouse innovation since the invention of the mouse itself. Given its importance, I've often wondered exactly how the mouse wheel was invented, but I could never find a source of any kind.
Matt Young was kind enough to forward me a link finally revealing who invented the mouse wheel: Microsoft's Eric Michelman, as described in his article The History of the Scroll Wheel:
Back in 1993, as I was watching many Excel users do their work, I noticed the difficulty they had moving around large spreadsheets. Finding and jumping to different sections was often difficult. I had the idea that perhaps a richer input device would help.
My original idea was the zoom lever. This was simply a lever, presumably for your non-mouse hand (i.e. on the left side of your keyboard if you're right-handed). When you push it away from you the spreadsheet zooms out. When you pull it towards you, it zooms back in.
I prototyped this by hooking a joystick up to my computer and using DDE to connect it to Excel for zooming. Using a joystick button along with the stick, I also had it do "data zooming", which was drilling in and out through Excel outlines.
This all seemed useful, so I showed it to the Hardware division at Microsoft. They were initially cool to the idea, which I presented as a zoom lever, and it didn't go anywhere at that point.
At this point most people thought it was kind of wacky. Focusing on zooming was a very Excel-centric approach. More specifically, it was a very 2-D centric approach. That is, using an application that presents 2-dimensional data, like a spreadsheet or graphics, it's very useful to zoom in and out. But the other main style of application is a linear flow application like Word, and there it's not as useful. You could do zooming with Word, where zooming out shows you a multi-page view and then you click on a desired page and zoom into it, but that's not as natural as with a spreadsheet or graphics and images.
A number of people suggested adding panning and scrolling functionality. In particular I remember Chris Graham saying zooming was just too limiting and it should pan as well. In response to this feedback, I added panning to the prototype, so moving the joystick side-to-side and back-and-forth scrolled Excel in the corresponding direction.
Around this time, the hardware guys came back and said that they had considered adding a wheel to the mouse, but they didn't know what it would be used for. Document navigation answered that question, so they said that if I could get Office to support it, they would build it. This really meant Excel and Word since they were the "800 lb gorillas" -- if Excel and Word supported something, then the other Office apps would follow, and if Office as a whole supported something, then everyone else would follow too (this was the early 1993 when Office was the heart of most people's computer usage).
Eric was completely fixated on the idea that the wheel should be for zooming by default, but finally relented when he met resistance from legendary technology journalist Walt Mossberg. Before they shipped it, they added a button under the wheel, and made the default wheel action "scroll".
The rest, as they say, is history.
After that, mouse wheels-- and the third mouse button under the wheel-- quickly became popular, standard features on every mouse. Although work started on this feature in 1993, and the hardware didn't ship until 1996, the first
mouse wheel patent filing from Microsoft is dated 1999.
So here's to you, mouse wheel. Whether you're zooming or scrolling, we owe you-- and Eric Michelman-- a debt of gratitude.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
The Kensington Expert Mouse is a trackball with a scroll/zoom wheel,
although not the conventional scroll wheel. It's more of a dial
around the trackball.
Sadly, the Expert Mouse is punishing to use in my experience, though my father and uncle swear by them (noticeably, though, my uncle uses both hands on the trackball). The Orbit is the same one I started with in the 90s, though optical now, after leaving them behind because they didn't have any optical trackballs when I bought my first Trackball Explorer.
having used logitech trackballs for a long time, i can say they are
pretty precise when moving the cursor along the screen
The trackballs are precise, but my thumb is not. I've tried, because they were among the first optical trackballs, but my thumb can't move the pointer up and down the screen properly with their design.
unfortunately a thumb-moved trackball is extremely dangerous: the
wrist is suffering and you can easily get the carpal tunnel
syndrome. that's why i am glad the mouse wheel rendered the
My main reason for using a trackball is because I already have carpal tunnel, and I prefer to use a device that doesn't inflame it, which means using ergonomic keyboards and trackballs that feel comfortable to use for long periods of time. I don't really know why there aren't more trackballs that are comfortable to use with the forefinger, really. A mouse is probably the only thing that inflames my carpal tunnel problems more than a standard (or laptop) keyboard.
The one thing I notice missing faster than a scroll wheel, though, is the 3rd and 4th buttons on my trackball assigned to back/forward in Explorer and the browser. I also get a little irritable over the placement of the Function key on my Gateway laptop. The bottom left corner of the keyboard should be the Control key... Oh, and let's not get started on the fact that laptops almost universally come with trackpads instead of trackballs now.
I've had minimal exposure to Macs, it would figure that they have a better interface for working with media. I imagine they just add another of the same tracking sensor used for the mouse itself, aimed at a ball on a spring loaded button.
Just in case anybody in the "wheel should default to zoom" camp isn't aware, in many programs the wheel does default to zoom (or text scale) if you hold down Ctrl while scrolling.
I just found out my Dell provided mouse scrolls sideways as well! Well yesterday actually. Using Excel as much as I do I like that feature, if my hand happens to be on the mouse at that moment otherwise ctrl home, or left or right arrow works well enough for most things.
Try the Perfit Mouse (also called Contour Mouse) from Contour Design. I like mine a lot for the ergonomics. It has a *thumb activated* scroll wheel. (www.contourdesign.com)
The optical sensor is not the best - it gets confused by more surfaces than your average mouse (including my 1999 Intellimouse Explorer), but the ergonomics are well worth it.
I remember that I cursed the mouse wheel when it first became popular, because I was a Trackball fanatic back then. All those GUIs that made a mouse wheel mandatory, rendered the Trackball obsolete. I still miss the precision of the Trackball at times.
It's funny, I spent a lot of time working with Macs in the late 80s, early 90s. Now I do .NET development, and rarely touch a Mac. The one I do have to poke from time to time is my mother's. I've grown so accustomed to having multiple buttons and a while, that using her Mac's (stock) mouse is a real pia.
It seems odd that the idea came from using Excel rather than Word. In a word processor you only really need to scroll up and down, so a wheel makes sense. In Excel you often go left and right too. I like the scroll-ball on Apple's dreadfully-named Might-Mouse for just that reason.
the hardware guys came back and said that they had considered adding
a wheel to the mouse, but they didn't know what it would be used for.
This astounds me. I don't have the kind of mind that could develop something new without already having an application in mind. I wonder what other ideas are floating around for which the creators don't yet see a use.
The weird thing is that 99% of people have this thing called their left hand. And the hand tends to sit on the keyboard while they're using the mouse. So you've got 4 left fingers (plus thumb for space-bar) that you can use to press keys to select different functions in addition to different mouse buttons.
The keys on the left even have convenient mnemonics, e.g. S for save, E for edit, D for delete, C for copy (X for cut and V for paste are a little weirder, but they're commonly known). You could add A for add, W for close, T for transform, et cetera. Holding one of these keys plus clicking the mouse button would be like having like 10 mouse commands.
Of course, Newton's first law of motion (an object in motion tends to stay in motion) also applies to large numbers of people using computer interface systems. So customs are unlikely to change without a massive change pushing them to a different direction.
I wonder why they haven't put a little trackball on a mouse where the scroll wheel is. I imagine it would be easier to use than the side tilting style scroll wheel and offer the same function.
I remember that I cursed the mouse wheel when it first became
popular, because I was a Trackball fanatic back then. All those GUIs
that made a mouse wheel mandatory, rendered the Trackball obsolete.
Toni on May 17, 2007 03:38 AM
There are a number of trackballs with mouse wheels out there, though Microsoft specifically seems to have phased trackballs out of their lineup (I'm using an MS Trackball Explorer at the moment). I've been a little irritated that Kensington doesn't include mouse wheels on their trackballs (either of them), and most of the Logitech trackballs are not quite useful for me (after all, my thumb is useless for moving the pointer on the screen).
The second true innovation were optical mouses, which need no more mechanic - the dust-greedy ball underside.
The forerunner were optical mouses, which needed a special surface - they were fine, too, but too limiting.
Never ever I would buy a mechanical mouse anymore - its a pain to use them, because once they get dirt underneath - and they will get - they become inprecise and the mousepointer is wobbling over the screen.
Beside the wheel, this invention increased productivity of us mouse workers another 1 or 2% - seen worldwide, this is a huge amount of saved working hours - or better output!
"Reader without a website": They have, it's called the Apple Mighty Mouse. And it sucks.
That's worth mentioning -- that Apple has been so long in adopting a 2-button mouse. If you didn't know it by someone telling you, Macs *still* don't have a 2-button mouse that ships with the computer by default. The action of the second (invisible) button on the Mighty Mouse is set to "Primary Button" when you get your new Mac. The lack of respect for even a second button on the Mac has always confounded me. In fact, the lack of attention paid to the usability of mouse *at all* on the Apple machines has always stunned me -- it's been their "signature input device", if you could call it that, since 1984. I mean, hell, the NeXT cube had 3 buttons...
Mousewheel ... A Brilliant idea ...
Why not have two ... Vertical and Horizontal (Note NOT a trackball) I dont want to go diagonally (confusing) I waht to go up/down *or* left/right
But why three buttons .. I only use 2 (and if I could would only use 1)
The logic seems to be Primary = Yes/OK, Secondary = Change/Edit/Configure, Third=? non-standard...
Some mice have loads...
The NeXT cube was for developers. Developers want a multi-button mouse. However, every developer I know is ultra picky about his mouse and would never dream of using the default mouse that comes with his computer.
Nearly every elderly person or generally computer illiterate person I've known, however, gets very confused when you tell them to right click. I've seen it in person, for years.
While the average level of understanding *has* grown throughout the years because of the dominance of windows, possibly to the tipping point where they should include a two-button mouse, I still do see quite a few examples of why they decided to go with one button.
There are some interface options that are good for new users - easily discoverable, easily understood. Others are better for power users - less clicks once you find them, available constantly. Context menus definitely fit the second type. I would even argue that scroll wheels do too, to some extent - they are heavily useful, but do seem to confuse novice users, especially those who click and scroll on them without realizing they did it.
That said - I buy a new mouse immediately for any mac I've owned, and I do occasionally miss the second button on my laptop. I only ever miss it that much, though, when I'm swapping platforms often. If you get used to using the interface designed for not needing a second button, you don't notice the difference as much as when you've been using it constantly. And ctrl-click is fine in most situations that aren't a game.
What about the "Back" and "Forward" buttons on the side of some mice?
I feel crippled when I'm forced to browse the Web without them.
My logitech mouse does horizontal scrolling by tilting the mouse wheel.
What I want though is to get rid of the mouse wheel and put a touch sensitive "button" that when my finger is just resting on it, puts the mouse into pan mode. A flick the wrist scrolls the window vertically and horizontal, quickly. Great for class diagrams...
interesting, but do you have any suggestions for the best mouse out there today? It seems I am on an eternal search for the right one, a slot still to be filled. Do you know anything about this: http://www.perific.com/products/?
"They have, it's called the Apple Mighty Mouse. And it sucks."
I think it is pretty usable, but I too found it strange that I had to go out of my way to set up the right mouse button action on the Mighty Mouse. The scroll ball is nice and I've grown quite fond of the side buttons that activate the Expose feature.
It took a little adjustment, but I think I went into the exercise expecting to adjust from more than a decade of daily PC use. I find myself trying to do the Expose thing at work on my Windows box all the time. ;-)
Damian try clicking the mouse wheel.
BTW, I meant to mention in your other recent mouse-related blog, that Logitech has at least one mouse that "scrolls" sideways. The wheel pivots left and right, and this affects horizontal scrolling. My wife has it, so I don't know anything more about it. But a couple of people mentioned wishing they had a mouse that could scoll both horizontally and vertically, so I thought I'd mention it.
Have a nice day!
I've never, ever clicked the scroll wheel button. I also never use the extra 4th and 5th buttons that you find on the sides of some of the higher end mice.
The most annoying thing is having extra buttons that you don't use but accidentally click when you aren't meaning to. That drives me crazy!
I'm using a keyboard right now with a zoom slider to the left of the keys, hadn't occurred to me that it was conceptually the precursor to the mouse wheel.
The wheel button is most commonly used to open a link in a new tab with firefox or ie7.
Another patent for M$ to stick on us linux users!
If I remember correctly, Eric was also responsible for some of the earliest "terminate and stay resident" applications from Borland, before he moved to Microsoft.
And I know he is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.
There are a number of trackballs with mouse wheels out there, though
Microsoft specifically seems to have phased trackballs out of their
lineup (I'm using an MS Trackball Explorer at the moment). I've been a
little irritated that Kensington doesn't include mouse wheels on their
trackballs (either of them), and most of the Logitech trackballs are
not quite useful for me (after all, my thumb is useless for moving the
pointer on the screen).
Vizeroth on May 17, 2007 04:48 AM
The Kensington Expert Mouse is a trackball with a scroll/zoom wheel, although not the conventional scroll wheel. It's more of a dial around the trackball.
That's worth mentioning -- that Apple has been so long
in adopting a 2-button mouse. If you didn't know it by
someone telling you, Macs *still* don't have a 2-button
mouse that ships with the computer by default. The action
of the second (invisible) button on the Mighty Mouse is
set to "Primary Button" when you get your new Mac.
The lack of respect for even a second button on the Mac
has always confounded me.
Be confounded no more. Take a look at the 90% of the users who use a computer. See how your grandmother uses her mouse. For these people, two buttons are confusing. I know a lot of people who switch the mouse between hands, and suddenly the "mouse doesn't work". They really have no idea what the "Select" button on the mouse is for, and never use it.
Apple figured that those who want two or more mouse buttons (Mac OS X is Unix based, and Unix's traditional mouse is three buttons) will buy the mouse they really like. This is pretty much true. I have rarely used the "default" mouse on any computer I've bought, Linux, Mac, or Windows.
I bought the Mighty Mouse which I use on both Windows and Mac. I like the scroll ball because it also allows me to scroll left and right. I've never got use to the push scroll wheel feature of the Microsoft mouse (where you can scroll real fast), and the left right toggle of the scroll wheel on my Logitech mouse feels weird. I think we'll start to see scroll wheels on more and more mice.
"Eric was completely fixated on the idea that the wheel should be for zooming by default, but finally relented when he met resistance from legendary technology journalist Walt Mossberg. Before they shipped it, they added a button under the wheel, and made the default wheel action "scroll"."
Another pivotal moment in Microsoft history. They insist on creating a feature that no one has asked for and ignore the obvious feature (Scrolling) and by sheer dumb luck, get it right.
My how things have changed. They've run out of dumb luck lately. ;)
"I still miss the precision of the Trackball at times."
"[...]most of the Logitech trackballs are not quite useful for me (after all, my thumb is useless for moving the pointer on the screen)."
having used logitech trackballs for a long time, i can say they are pretty precise when moving the cursor along the screen. i also particularly liked being able to "throw" the ball to cover a long distance (that even became my favorite anti-stress gadget).
unfortunately a thumb-moved trackball is extremely dangerous: the wrist is suffering and you can easily get the carpal tunnel syndrome. that's why i am glad the mouse wheel rendered the trackball obsolete.
not that the mouse is not dangerous, but the effort is less painful than with a trackball...
On the one-button mouse:
I understand why Apple chose the one-button mouse. It made a lot of sense when I was first introduced to it back in '84 (I was eight years old then). But let's ask ourselves this question: What does the single button on the mouse primarily represent? The scroll wheel is primarily used for scrolling. The right mouse button is primarily used for getting a context menu. As Bruce Tognazzini once put it, the button on the mouse (and I think he was generalizing across ALL mice here) is equivalent to a "caveman's grunt".
That's not a very empowering paradigm for users, whether it be your grandma or a developer.
Imagine a new user who is faced with a desktop, and on this desktop is a file. How does the user delete the file? How does the user open the file? How does the user print the file? Without some sort of easily accessible mechanism for contextually choosing an action, it's a mystery.
Mike: I'd be willing to bet that Grandma has a problem right-clicking because you tell her to "right-click", and not "click the mouse button on the right". The solution to computer illiteracy is to learn, not to cut the capabilities of the system for everyone. That's the triumph of ignorance.
That's the most serious response I can say to that ridiculous post.
(I say this with Linux as my primary OS and Windows as my -deserted- secondary OS, kept only for it's price tag)
I disagree, the third button is a load of functionality. Windows doesn't utilize it that much, but it's really useful. And come to think of it, you have five fingers: you hold the mouse with the outer two and click the three buttons with your other three.
Zooming? And he was right... that's why most RPG games uses it that way.
At hardcore-input needs, we can see who is leaded by reason and who is leaded by marketing issues.
I'd agree that the scroll wheel is a great innovation, but the optical mouse is great too, it's hard to go back to using the mechanical ones (like the one included with my Dell...)
The 2D scroll ball in the Apple Mighty Mouse is awesome too... that is, when it's not clogged. Unfortunately it exhibits the same issues as old school mouse balls (hehe, mouse balls), i.e. dust and crap clogging it up. And even worse there's no easy way to clean it.
I'm gotten to the point where I disassemble the mouse about once a month to clean it (not a particularly easy task: snap the top shell off, unscrew 3 tiny screws holding the scroll ball assembly in, snap the assembly apart, clean ball and rollers, carefully reassemble tiny rollers + ball + holder, screw the 3 screws back in, snap shut...) I've gotten pretty good at it so it takes less than 5 minutes, but still...
But why three buttons .. I only use 2 (and if I could would only use 1)
Mouse click opens a new tab in browsers... I wouldn't trade that 3rd button for anything.
But why three buttons .. I only use 2 (and if I could would only use 1)
I use my mouse for gaming, in which I have 7 buttons which all have some function mapped to them in the game. However, in the normal world I use left click, right click and scroll only.
My old mouse is a Logitech MX500 with 7 buttons and a clickable scroll wheel. My new mouse is a Logitech Revolution MX, which added a pseudo-scroll wheel on the side (but out of the reach of my thumb) and took away 3 buttons.
I find that I really like the feel of the Revolution, as in my wrist hurts less these past couple weeks, but I really, really miss those extra buttons. One nice thing with the Revolution is that the main scroll wheel can be pushed left or right and scrolls sideways. I still miss two of the buttons though, becuase you could hold them down to scroll up/down which was easier on the finger for long scrolls.
All that just gave me an idea: How about a mousewheel with four buttons around it! Left/Right buttons would scroll sideways, top/bottom buttons would scroll up/down. They would probably have to be part of the molding for the scroll wheel, actually... and maybe pressing sideways on the scroll wheel could activate the same mechanism or actually push those buttons down.
Any mouse-makers out there? Go build that for me!
The middle button is used all the time in X, that select (left), copy (right), paste (middle) thing is both faster and easier on the carpel tunnel than ctrl-c, ctrl-v.
I can understand the simplicity argument with the Mac, but it boggles my mind that if I buy a Mac laptop I can't work with the X programs it runs like I would on other hardware (without an external mouse). Why don't they just put a 2-button mouse on there and default both buttons to "primary" like the Mighty Mouse? Then power users could customize their settings (enabling secondary click and middle-click emulation) and work more efficiently.
We could add functionality to the mouse without adding buttons, Street Fighter/Moral Combat has shown us the way!
Need to Save a document? Mouse Down, Mouse Right, Left+Right click
Need to Delete a document? Right click, Right click, Left click, Mouse Left.
Need to Copy/Paste? Right Mouse, Left Mouse + Right click/ Left Click.
Awesome work Eric Michelman
"Reader without a website":
I don't know about a trackball, but IBM in 1997 or so (soon after the mouse wheel came out) came out with a mouse with one of their pencil erasor tracking devices where the scroll wheel was on the MS ones.
I didn't ever use one, but I do remember thinking it was kind of a neat concept. It must have been bad in real world use because they dropped it soon thereafter
I have had to cut the cord connecting the "pencil eraser" mouse on numerous laptops. Once it starts to "drift" you will go crazy!
The IBM trackpoint mouse:
Here's a 1997 IBM study on scrolling methods. The results are kind of questionable in my opinion (no difference between mouse without wheel, and mouse with wheel??) since IBM tends to be biased toward their trackpoint device..
Navigating through on-line documents has become an increasingly common task in human- computer interaction. This paper investigates alternative methods to improve user performance for browsing World Wide Web and other documents. In a task that involved both scrolling and pointing, we compared three input methods against the status quo. The results showed that a mouse with a finger wheel did not improve user's performance; two other methods, namely a mouse with an isometric rate-control joystick operated by the same hand and a two-handed system that put a mouse in the dominant hand and a joystick in the other, both significantly improved users' performance. A human factors analysis of each of the three input methods is presented.
I am always frustrated by apps where the wheel should be bound to zoom rather than scroll.
It's also somewhat sad that we must still waste so much screen real-estate on scroll bars that now serve a dimished purpose.
The mouse wheel is a nice invention, and especially the ability to click it and use it as a third mouse button. Sadly logitech has ruined that by making their mice wheels scroll sideways by clicking them left and right thereby making it harder to click straight down as a middle click..
Mice with a pointing stick ("Trackpoint") are similar to and I think probably better than scroll-wheel mice. I'm not sure they predate scroll-wheel mice, though; the pointing stick is pre-'93 but I don't know when it first appeared on a mouse.
the reason that the three button mouse never caught on is because retards designed it. With a two button mouse your first finger is on button one and your second finger is on button two. With three button mice your first finger is still on button one (good), your second finger is on button three (very bad) and your third finger is on button two (bad).
Imagine swapping the function of the mouse and the scroll wheel or embedded trackball-- moving the mouse pans the whole window, while the trackpall/scrollwheels move the pointer. This would be like the mini-joysticks that are on the end of regular joysticks, where the main joystick navigates the vehicle while the mini joystick aims your missile or whatever.
You could do this swap in software. Anyone know if there's a way this might be done either in Windows or Linux?
"I am always frustrated by apps where the wheel should be bound to zoom rather than scroll."
I'm frustrated in general with the difficulty of remapping mice buttons and other similar features.
I once bought a Microsoft keyboard with a slider thingy on the left of the Tab key. They *hard coded* it to zoom. I bought it on the assumption that I would be able to remap it to be a "scrollwheel" instead, where I thought it might be useful to scroll around with an analog control without going to the mouse. No such luck.
And while most mice nowadays have at least some configurability, I still find a shocking number of them won't let me bind a (shell) command to a button, which lets me make it really useful.
scroll bars that now serve a dimished purpose.
They're still useful, of course, for indicating position and how much content is available.
Funny coincidence, but back in 1990, I was working with the mac classic machines in one of our University labs (in CMichU) and I got really frustrated with the fact that you had to select the sidebar in the gui and scroll, get to the bottom of the mousepad, pick it up go to the top of the pad and drag some more (obviously I was too new at this because I think the interface allowed clicking in the empty space and advancing 1 page per such click).
In any case, I played around with the idea of a "slider" by the side of the only button that the Mac mouse used to have. This was to be spring loaded and would only control scrolling up or down (from the middle). I recall making a diagram of it, but never followed up..
coulda, shoulda, woulda LOL!
"I like the scroll-ball on Apple's dreadfully-named Might-Mouse for just that reason."
Dreadfully named? BTW, it's Mighty Mouse. It's not a bad name, better then for instance "iMouse".
"I wonder why they haven't put a little trackball on a mouse where the scroll wheel is. I imagine it would be easier to use than the side tilting style scroll wheel and offer the same function."
They have, it's called the Apple Mighty Mouse. It's really useful, especially for Video Editing in Final Cut Pro, scrolling left-right is a huge part of your work flow for that program.
Yeah, lay off the mighty-mouse, it's pretty decent. Having a full-fledged trackball on top is quite a bit more powerful than just a wheel -- it's a whole 'nother dimension of scrolling goodness!
I do prefer a more ergonomic fit, but you can't do that and still be left/right-hand agnostic, so I can understand they don't want to go that route with the default equipment.
With Apple's recent foray into touch-sensitive technology, I wonder if we're going to see a trackpad-style interface, where you just stroke the top of the mouse to scroll... would be interesting.
I don't like side-mounted mouse buttons (for back/forwards etc) because I end up clicking the involuntarily, and messing things up.
Acorn's RISC OS machines use a 3-button mouse, the middle brings up the menu for whichever application is under the pointer.
RISC OS also lets you pan around all over a document by holding the right button (named "adjust") on a scroll bar, then moving the mouse around. This was unbelievably useful when navigating around large vector drawings, and it's a feature I've never seen on any other OS.
For me the classic Logitech mouse is perfect. No more and no less than what I use daily.
Middle clicking is a great tool for "that second commonly used action". Take links in Firefox/IE7/Opera (I think) for example. The most commonly used action is to follow the link, so that's left click. The second most commonly used action (of which I use a lot of the time) is to open in a new tab. Now that's middle click. And of course we have right click for "a list of any other actions" in a context menu. Same with tabs - left click to navigate to tab, middle to close. I wish I could map middle click to something in explorer, like "Open With...".
I have a personal dislike of more than 3 button mice. I always end up inadvertently pressing them, or forgetting what they do. In Firefox of course there are two very common actions - navigating back and forwards. For that I use rocker gestures (click left then right to go forward. right then left to go back). I've found them to become very natural now, and it doesn't clutter up my mouse. However, I do realise that rocker gestures are a specialised action that a lot of people struggle to get to grips with.
I've never had a real need to scroll horizontally. Most of the time I only need to go up or down. If I ever do need to go horizontally it tends to be when writing (programming mainly) and I'm tracking with the caret anyway (Ctrl+Arrows rock). For the times I do need to go horizontally I find the middle click scrolling (where the view scrolls at a rate and direction proportional to where you move the mouse) to be sufficient. Then again I middle click scroll down pages a lot of the time anyway.
I'm surprised it's not been bought up before, but Jeff Raskin, the main person responsible for the one button mice on Macs, admits in his book "The Humane Interface" that a two button mice would perhaps have been better, given the proviso that it is clearly labelled.
And I think that is the problem. As David said, the "right mouse button" conjours in a lot of peoples mind the "correct mouse button", which to most newcomers is the left mouse button. If the buttons were labelled something like "Action" and "Menu" (with better names obviously) and had a consistent function it would be a lot easier for people to understand. "Click the Menu button. It's the one on the right with 'Menu' written on it."
Great comment. I never really thought about that. Isn't it funny that mouse buttons are almost never labeled? I guess it goes back to the whole "grunt" argument. When I'm coding, I always tell folks when they come up with class names, "If you can't find a name for it, you probably haven't designed it right". Wonder if that applies to the mouse, too.
Around this time, the hardware guys came back and said that they had
considered adding a wheel to the mouse, but they didn't know what it
would be used for
so Eric Michelman didn't actually come up with the idea for the mouse wheel, just what to use it for...so who invented the actual mouse wheel I wonder?
From what I can find, the first mouse wheel was made by Mouse Systems in 1995. They had been acquired by KYE (Genius in Taiwan) in 1990 so I don't know who gets the real credit.
I think Apple has the right design. Making it a one-button mouse by default means that only the people who know how to reconfigure the mouse are the ones who have to do it. If grandma doesn't understand right-clicking, she certainly isn't going to understand Preferences or the Control Panel. The little scroll wheel not only lets you scroll horizontally and vertically, it also lets you scroll diagonally. I've never seen another mouse do that. There probably is one; I've just never seen it.
The weakness of the Mighty Mouse is that right-clicking is different than on other mice. You have to lift your left finger while you are clicking--not hard, but you have to get used to it. The scroll button is very sensitive, and the side buttons are not sensitive enough. Nevertheless, I do like it because it doesn't look like it's going to assimilate me into the Borg.
Two buttons is a good idea. It's command vs query. Think about cavemen communicating effectively with nothing but command and query grunts (via pitch inflection), and gestures. Thare ye have a mouse.
i was wondering what the inventor get ($) for his idea?!?
I was wondering if Microsoft is getting $$$ for the idea?
Or are this patents just things for the statistics and they don't get license fees from logitech and such?
Bill Buxton notes that there was a Japanese-Swiss thumbwheel mouse called Mighty Mouse back in 1985 (Ohno, Fukaya Nievergeld, 1985) and Dan Venolia produced a thumb wheel mouse at Apple between '89 and '93. So that would explain the lack of MS patents, as well as the name for the Apple Mighty Mouse. See www.billbuxton.com/input02.Devices.pdf [PDF file].
i guess who invent the mouse i wondering its so good your inventions....
I wanted to mention the 2D scroll ball in the Apple Mighty Mouse because I think it is the best all around. I will be interested to see how these continue to develop in to "smart" mouses at some point.
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Funny post. I can't remember what I did before I got my first mouse with a wheel anymore. Now, who is the guy who invented the scrolling pad for a laptop?
It's funny that most of us use the mouse today with the small red light without even thinking about how the the whole computer mouse started
If you want more information about who invented the mouse wheel...I am a reliable source...my dad invented it...and I still can't believe Microsoft is still trying to take claim after so many years...my dad is the one who actually has the patent for it
That's pretty impressive. What's his name? Where is this information? Is there a US Patent database we can look at?
to-day,in windows 7 beta*, there is no native driver for the 3-rd button.i,m using a microsoft optical mouse.
*-like in:alpha,BETA,gama ray-it.s no good.
The scroll wheel's button function IS used in Windows. With IntelliPoint under XP pressing this third mouse button displays all open windows.
In applications, it offers another scrolling function. Clicking the third button (scroll wheel) sets an origin point on the screen and moving the cursor from this point will scroll content in that direction. The further the cursor from this point the faster the scrolling. This feature is quite old now, it's not no good as Copper says.
At the start of this article the Genius mouse is mentioned as the earliest found with a scroll wheel (confirmed by other sources). This is noted as the first mouse with a scroll wheel, while it is the Microsoft IntelliMouse noted for the first scroll wheel as it is now recognised.
I just have to thank the, man, who invented, this, personally. If you would like to come speak, for, my school. We are looking for people whom, invent, things like mouse wheels and canoe paddles. You could use this for your eagle project, even, if you want.I know what you ARE going through. PS if you want to come see our dungeon also, and, people like speakers in my class of people who like speakers.
Ashley loves your show. If she could marry you I would marry you two together. Every, once in four new moon Ashley has a dream. She dreams about Colton Richins, the hunkiest man in my school. Everytime she sees him her heart melts. Her favorite part about Colton is his massive arms. He is so strong he could just pick her up and take her off in the sunset to the beach. In her dreams colton is actually less buff than in real life because he is almost too buff for her. He is a modern day vampire, except golden tan. He feeds on gold fish. What is Ashley's favorite pasttime? Making soup for Colton when he is sick. She has memorized his address and social security number. It's kind of like stalking except he doesn't know yet.
Turns out Ashley doesn't really dream about Colton as much as we thought. She spends too much time dreaming about David Archuleta. Although he did not win American Idol many people still consider him an idol of America, a role model to our kids, and a hero to our society.
WOW! Some of you guys really should be going out to get a life! I'd just like to give a shout out to Kenneth, Austin, and Colton, oh and don't forget Rodriguez. They are the ones who are really showing all of you guys how to get a life! Seriously do we really need to sit and talk about the function of how a computer mouse works all day? That's all I have to say thank you for your time.
would u like to date me girl with no life? i also lack life of my own and i wish i could share that with someone. like you! i write poetry and i was inspired to come to this website. I was inspired a beautiful girl would write to me! i heart u!
"the NeXT cube had 3 buttons"
acad r9 at school, on dos on 286 circa 1988? had 3button mouse.
"why Apple chose the one-button mouse. It made a lot of sense when I was first introduced to it back in '84 (I was eight years old then)."
yeah, drag stuff to the trash, and you hear that spittoon noise. "kool!" :-)
For those mentioning mouse wheel button = new tab -> try ctrl+Left Click. shift+left click is a great boon when being forced to use older browsers.
On some level, I understand Macs staying true to one mouse button - when the first Macs came out, mice (probably of the Xerox PARC vintage) had multiple buttons and you'd use one button to select, another button to copy and yet another to paste (or so internet led me to believe; it's been forever since I saw videos of Engelbart in action to confirm this myself). The idea that you could select, copy and paste all with one button was one part of a larger (design) revolution.
People will say that they want more buttons, more features, but how many people are screaming for Apple to bring back the iPod with the discrete play/skip buttons? I remember seeing one of them and being taken a bit aback by how awkward it looked.
I can't live without my 5 button mouse, my mom doesn't get excited about source control systems. I'm a developer, she's not, and there are more moms and people who appreciate simplicity than there are developers out there.
Interesting...see I always blamed the Internet for the "need" of a trackball. Remember when all those web pages where just horrendous single pages with hopefully a few anchors in there to help you navigate through the mess. When I started seeing scroll wheels, I just naturally assumed it was to help in those situations. Maybe I spend too much time online 8^D
I actually hated my first scroll wheel (back in '97 I think with my new Compaq) and gave it to my friend. My hand would rest so heavy on the mouse that I would arbitrarily spin the wheel and lose my place.
Now I can't live without it 8^D That and my trackball, I still love that too 8^D
yes yes, but the real beast of good looks is a man named austin jelitto. but ashley can't love him because too many girls surround him all the time, if only if only. his muscles are like bowling balls nestled in that silky smooth skin! what a hunk
I really like this article. I learned alot regarding the structure and the way mouses are used in todays day and age. I feel that the mouse wheel is one of the most used inventions and the man responsible deserves a huge dollar bill from mr president and a spot in his cabinet.
From what I can find, the first mouse wheel was made by Mouse Systems in 1995. They had been acquired by KYE (Genius in Taiwan) in 1990 so I don't know who gets the real credit.
This comment made me think about it though. Who really deserves credit? This is a subject i would like to discuss with anyone. I really want to meet this austin man. He sounds like a man to talk to. If i could he would sit with me and chat. I wonder what a man he is?