Computer MouseOriginally referred to as an X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System, a mouse is a hardware input device that was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1963 while working at Xerox PARC. The mouse allows an individual to control a pointer in a graphical user interface (GUI) and manipulate on-screen objects such as icons, files, and folders.

By using a mouse, the user doesn't have to memorize commands, such as those utilized in a text-based command line environment like MS-DOS. For example, in MS-DOS a user would have to know the cd command and dir command to navigate to a folder and view the files inside. Whereas a Windows user only has to double-click a file to view its contents.

After its inception at the Stanford Research Institute (a think tank sponsored by Stanford University), Xerox applied the mouse to its revolutionary Alto computer system in 1973. However, due to Alto's lack of success, the first widely used application was with the Apple Lisa computer. Today, this pointing device is found on virtually every computer.

Logitech Cordless Trackman Optical Trackball mouseTypes of computer mice

Computer mouse ports

Today, most computer mice connect to a computer using a USB port. Below is a listing of all of the type of ports and wireless connections that a mouse has used.

Mouse vs. mice or mouses

When talking about one (singular) you refer to a computer mouse as a "mouse". When talking about two or more (plural) you refer to them as "mice" or "mouses" although "mice" is more common.

Note: To help prevent confusion, some companies and writers avoid using either plural form of mouse by referring to multiple mice as "mouse devices."

Is "mouse" an acronym?

No. Some believe that mouse is short for "manually-operated user-select equipment," but when Douglas Engelbart helped invent the mouse he called it a mouse because the device resembled the rodent.

What are the functions of a mouse?

A computer mouse has many functions that help a user use their computer. Below are the most common functions of a mouse.

  • Move the mouse cursor - The primary use of a computer mouse is to move the mouse cursor on the screen.
  • Open or execute a program - Once you've moved the mouse to an icon, folder, or other object clicking or double clicking that object opens the document or executes the program.
  • Select - A mouse also allows you to select a file or highlight and select multiple files at once.
  • Scroll - When working with a long document or viewing a long web page you may need to scroll up or down on that page. Using a mouse wheel or clicking and dragging the scroll bar is another function of the mouse.

Mouse related pages

Also see: Click, Double-click, Input device, IntelliMouse, J-Mouse, Microsoft, Mouse terms, Mouse pad, Mouse potato, Pointing device, Right-click, Serial mouse, Touchpad, Trackball, Wheel mouse