How Mouse Works

By Xah Lee. Date: .
computer ball mouse mechanism 2005
Inside of a roller ball mouse. image source

Roller ball mouse is used from about 1990 to 2000. You have to clearn the ball every half a year or so. It gathers dust and dirt, and can get stuck. It works well on smooth flat surfaces only. It does not work well on carpet.

mouse mechanism diagram
Roller ball mouse mechanism.
  • ① Pulling the mouse turns the ball.
  • ② X and Y rollers grip the ball and transfer movement.
  • ③ Optical encoding disks include light holes.
  • ④ Infrared LEDs shine through the disks.
  • ⑤ Sensors gather light pulses to convert to X and Y velocities.
image source
SRI Computer Mouse Engelbart mouse
Early mouse, from ~1968. Inventor Douglas Engelbart holding the first computer mouse, showing the wheels that make contact with the working surface. image source
Apple mouses 1984 to 2000
Apple mouses, roughly 1984 to 2000. From left to right : • Macintosh Mouse (1984). • Apple Desktop Bus Mouse • Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II • USB Mouse. • Pro Mouse (2000). image source
Apple Pro Mouse (2000). The whole mouse is covered in a thick plastic glass. There are no buttons. The whole mouse is one button. image source
Apple Mighty Mouse 46738
Apple Mighty Mouse. (2005 to 2009) It has a tiny rubber ball on top, which lets you scroll in all directions, as well as click. image source
Apple magic mouse
Apple magic mouse, introduced in 2009. The surface is now multi-touch sensitive.

Optical Mouse and Laser Mouse

Optical mouse and laser mouse work by taking a picture of the surface many times per second, and compare the pictures, to see which way the mouse has moved.

800px-An Early Three Buttoned Mouse
early optical mouse (1980s.) This requires the shiny mirror-like pad underneath to work. image source