Computer Mice or Mouses?

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 21 19:41:52 UTC 2012

The reason I specifically referred to VAX and X is because these were in
the big rollout of Project Athena in the spring of 1984, with much
preparation before that. The jokes about mice/mouses were prominent even
back then. The 1984 claim made no sense whatsoever, but many thanks to
Garson for finding the actual citations that prove it.


On 3/21/2012 3:26 PM, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> Victor Steinbok wrote
>> First recorded use??? WTF? What about the X-driven VAXen? They had mice
>> attached... surely there is "recorded" info on those in 1983 or earlier...
> The OED has "mouse" in the computer sense starting in 1965. Here is
> the citation:
> 1965 W. K. English&  D. C. Engelbart Computer Aided-display Control
> (Final Rep. Project 5061, Stanford Res. Inst.) 6   Within comfortable
> reach of the user's right hand is a device called the ‘mouse’ which we
> developed for evaluation . . as a means for selecting those displayed
> text entities upon which the commands are to operate.
> I don't see a separate entry for the plural "mice" in the computer
> sense, unsurprisingly.
> Under "mouse pad" the OED has a January 1982 citation containing the
> phrase "Optical mice". These are computer mice:
> [Begin excerpt]
> mouse pad n. = mousemat n.
> 1982   R. F. Lyon&  M. P. Haeberli in VLSI Design Jan.–Feb. 21/1
> Optical mice require a special patterned mouse pad.
> [End excerpt]
> This can be pushed back to November 1981, I think. (This example is
> somewhat ambiguous.)
> InfoWorld - Nov 23, 1981 - Page 28
> Vol. 3, No. 27 - 72 pages - Magazine - Full view
> [Begin excerpt]
> Turtles are part of the computer-cursor-control bestiary that also
> includes mice. The turtle, frequently appearing as a triangle on the
> CRT screen, moves around the screen under orders from the user,
> drawing or erasing lines as it goes.
> [End excerpt]
> The gap between 1965 and 1981 suggests there is room for improvement.
> Garson

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