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13-03-2018

The mouse revolution

If you are reading this on your computer screen, you probably have a mouse in your hand, and you probably take it for granted, after all, using them is second nature. The mouse has been around for a while now, and it’s come a long way. When was invented in 1964, it consisted of a wooden carcass, a circuit board and two metal wheels that came into contact with the surface. Eight years later, another type of mouse that used a hard rubber ball was invented, replacing the wheels.

I bought my first computer in 1990 and it didn’t have a mouse or Windows, or a hard drive, just a keyboard. Although it would nowadays be considered a useless piece of junk, I quickly learned to use it, and it paid for itself many times over. There were no whizzy effects or attractive graphic interfaces, just a black screen with orange text, and it was not connected to the internet (obviously) but it was good enough for me to translate my first divorce decrees and deeds.

In 1993 I went to live in London, and the company that I worked introduced computers with mice. The concept was so new to us that they paid us to play Solitaire and Tetris to practice our ‘mouse skills’! These mice were more temperamental than today’s optical versions. Do you remember having to dismantle the ball under the mouse to pick out all the fluff and crisp crumbs that got trapped inside and stopped it from working properly?

We had to wait another eight years before the optical mouse would be developed, eliminating the dirty mouse issue. Today’s designs feature LED sensors that detect desktop movements and transmit them to the computer. There are also infrared, cordless mice that send signals to a base station in the mouse port.

Choosing the right mouse is essential to translators, since we spend most of the day with one of these inventions in our hands. Before I started using my special ergonomic mouse and keyboard, my right hand ached so much that it would wake me up during the night, however, since I invested an unbelievable €115 on a specially-shaped Bluetooth mouse, the pain has gone. Money well spent.

Thirty years ago, we were grappling to come to terms with the mouse, so who can imagine what the future will bring? The next big thing is rumored to be virtual reality goggles, but I wouldn’t feel very glamorous sitting in an office wearing goggles. I would rather know what is going on around me when I’m in a public place! Nevertheless, all the tech giants are working on virtual and augmented reality, so we can expect to be changing our work habits (and hairstyles) very soon.



Juliet Allaway

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