The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Paul Atkinson, “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: The Computer Mouse in the History of Computing” (pdf) (2007)

The history of the mouse raises a number of interesting questions: Why did it take so long to become a mass-produced item? How did people react to the introduction of the mouse? What did the mouse represent, and what does it represent today? How and why did it become the single most accepted interface technology?

There is no denying that the computer mouse is a phenomenally successful product in its own right – a success which can be measured by how ‘natural’ a product it has become as an everyday object. So familiar, that it disappears from our observational and analytical ‘radars’ to become an object people do not stop to consider. Yet, despite this success, few people are aware of its full history, of the way in which it was first conceived and then appropriated by the computer industry, or of the ways in which it has been used, intentionally and unintentionally, to shape our social and technological worlds.

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