In 1983, when Microsoft introduced its original green-eyed mouse to the market, computer mice were not yet common peripherals. However, Microsoft saw an opportunity to be a pioneer in the upcoming surge of graphical operating systems and aimed to make its software products more user-friendly. The first Microsoft Mouse was bundled with copies of Word and Notepad and sold for a whopping $195, equivalent to about $600 today. To make matters more challenging, users needed a separately sold Microsoft adapter card for their PCs. Unlike modern mice, this early version had no bells and whistles, with a plain steel mouse ball that lacked the rubber coating seen in later models. Microsoft sold only about 5,000 of these green-eyed mice, and its mouse business struggled until the release of a later version in 1985.
The Rise of the Gray-Eyed Mouse
Nicknamed the gray-eyed mouse, the 1985 version featured significant improvements. It had a quieter rubber-coated ball, higher tracking resolution, and more ergonomically designed buttons that made it easier to click for various hand shapes. This marked a turning point for Microsoft, as it gained recognition in the mouse manufacturing industry.
The Evolution of Microsoft Mice
Over the next four decades, Microsoft continued to innovate its mouse designs. In 1987, the company introduced the Dove Mouse, which was compatible with PS2 ports, aligning with the prevailing computer technology of the time.
In 1991, Microsoft released the Ballpoint Mouse, a trackball device that attached to the side of laptops through a Serial Port. This design was especially useful for laptops that lacked built-in pointing devices.
In 1993, the Microsoft Mouse 2.0, often referred to as the "kidney mouse" due to its asymmetrical shape, was introduced. While it claimed to be suitable for both right and left-handed users, it was more comfortable for right-handers.
The IntelliMouse, launched in 1996, brought a significant innovation with the introduction of the scroll wheel, a feature that would become a staple in computer mice. This scrolling capability gained popularity as web browsing became more common.
In 1999, Microsoft released the IntelliMouse Explorer, the first consumer mouse with an optical sensor. Its sleek design and red backlight marked it as a futuristic device by late '90s standards.
In 2008, the Arc Mouse was introduced, emphasizing portability and a unique arched design that made it stand out. It was followed by the Arc Touch Mouse in 2010, which featured touch scrolling and a foldable design for easy portability.
The Sculpt Ergonomic Mouse, introduced in the 2010s, provided a different approach to mouse design, prioritizing ergonomic comfort.
In 2017, Microsoft revisited the classic IntelliMouse, based on the original Explorer design, offering a modernized look. This was followed by the Pro and TeleMouse in 2019, featuring more accurate sensors and even RGB lighting for gamers.
The Latest Innovations and Beyond
In 2022, Microsoft released the Adaptive Mouse, designed for customizability and accessibility. It featured a compact square base that users could attach mouse tails to, offering various grip options to suit individual preferences.
However, it seems that the Microsoft Mouse brand is approaching its twilight years. The company is consolidating its products under the Surface brand, signaling the end of an era for Microsoft mice. While the brand may no longer be at the forefront of mouse innovation, it leaves behind a rich history of evolution and adaptation to changing technology trends.
We've come a long way from the green-eyed mouse of 1983 to the modern, feature-packed mice of today. Microsoft's journey through the world of mice has left a lasting mark on the industry, shaping the way we interact with our computers.