REDMOND, Wash., October 4, 1999 — In 1968, computer pioneer Douglas Engelbart demonstrated the first computer mouse. This curious wooden prototype, roughly twice the size of a hockey puck, eventually became an essential peripheral, paving the way for the graphical user interface and transforming the way we use computers. Although hardware and software have gone through countless quantum leaps in the past 30 years, today’s mouse isn’t much different than those manufactured decades ago.
Today, the mouse is finally catching up. Microsoft today announced the wide availability of IntelliMouse Explorer, the most radical technology and design advance in the 30-year life of the mouse. With its new optical tracking technology, added buttons and sleek design, IntelliMouse Explorer is the start of a new era for this humble peripheral.
The most significant improvement is the addition of Microsoft IntelliEye, an innovative new optical tracking technology that makes mouse balls and pads seem as archaic as the dot matrix printer. Older mice used a rubber ball to track movement mechanically; IntelliEye instead uses a small digital camera and a powerful digital signal processor, eliminating all moving parts and providing greater accuracy and reliability.
IntelliMouse Explorer tracks movement by capturing images of the work surface at a rate of 1,500 images per second. Since the underside of a mouse is dark, the work surface — anything from a wall to a pant leg — is illuminated by a red light-emitting diode (LED). A digital signal processor operating at 15 million instructions per second — faster than PCs built several years ago — compares the images to determine which way the mouse is moving. The processor then translates this information into on-screen movement.
This technique, called image correlation processing, results in smooth, precise pointer movement. Since this technique requires no moving parts, cleaning is unnecessary; after years of use, the IntelliMouse Explorer will be as responsive and accurate as the day it was purchased. For graphics professionals, and others requiring high accuracy and low maintenance, this technology offers tremendous productive benefits over traditional mice.
The significant advances inside the mouse are reflected in its bold new look. Gone is the uniform white or beige of yesterday’s mouse – the mouse is housed in a sleek industrial-silver finish and features a glowing red underside and taillight. It works on PS/2 or USB ports, so it’s appealing to design-savvy users on any PC or Macintosh.
The mouse features the popular scrolling and zooming wheel, as well as two additional customizable buttons on the left side of the mouse that can enhance Internet navigation or simplify other routine tasks. The mouse also features a neutral-posture ergonomic shape, which positions the hand and forearm in a natural resting position and supports the entire hand.
The IntelliMouse Explorer with IntelliEye is widely available now at a suggested retail price of $74.95. Since some retailers started carrying the new mouse several weeks ago, design-savvy professionals, home users and gamers have snapped them up; so far, the new mouse has sold twice as fast as expected.