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Happy birthday, mouse!


It was 40 years ago this week that Douglas Engelbart gave the first public demonstration of what would become the modern computer mouse, affectionately called "The mother of all demos." With that in mind, we've decided to take a look at the evolution of the Apple Mouse.

The current version is the Mighty Mouse, of course. With its scroll wheel and touch sensitive clicking surfaces, it's loved by some and despised by others. I'll admit that a wired Mighty Mouse is my main mouse, which will undoubtedly make some of you gasp. Still, we can't fully appreciate the Mighty Mouse without acknowledging its predecessors.

When you think of old Apple mice, you probably think of the ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) variety. But even those were preceded by the DB-9 connector mice that shipped with the Apple Lisa. In fact, those were the first commercially available mice. They were clunky, square-ish affairs that featured a single button -- a design decision that Apple has refused to abandon all these years (yes, the Mighty Mouse isn't a single-button mouse, but certainly looks it from an overhead perspective).

The boxy shape was kept largely intact until 1993, when Apple released the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II. I can remember using one of these with a Performa and being amazed by it. "it's not square! It fits in my hand! This is incredible!"

Also "incredible" was the amount of time I spent removing the ball and scraping the gunk off of the rollers.

The design stayed pretty much the same until the "hockey puck" was released with the iMac in 1998. Apple's first USB mouse, the hockey puck divided the Mac community. Some declared it the best thing since copy and paste. Others, like me, considered it an abomination.

Just two years later, Apple got the message, retired the hockey puck and introduced the Pro Mouse. The lozenge-shaped device was the immediate predecessor to the Mighty Mouse we all know and love (or despise) today.

There are Apple mouse fanboys, and those who'd never touch one. In fact, even your favorite TUAW bloggers are divided. Below is a gallery of our favorite and current mice, plus a few vintage examples. Finally, we threw in a few alternate input devices as well.

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