Mouse Trouble: 20 Weird Pointing Device Patents

A mouse made of gold. A mouse that tells time. A mouse shaped like Mickey. And seventeen other interesting ideas that didn't pan out.

Posted by  | Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Mickey mouseComputer mouse

Filed December 28th, 1994

From the moment that Douglas Engelbart invented the first mouse, it was inevitable that someone would invent this mouse. Oddly enough, the designer doesn’t seem to have been employed by Disney, and the patent doesn’t explicitly describe this as being a Mickey-shaped mouse. But at least it doesn’t claim that it’s wonderfully ergonomic.



Slides: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

38 Comments For This Post

  1. SRSLY... Says:

    Number 4 is very similar to a Logitech that was out a few years ago.
    Very comfy, but unfortunately very heavy…

  2. Chris Says:

    What a cool collection of wacky mice. The Tweety Pie one is particularly disturbing.

  3. HeartBurnKid Says:

    #5 looks like it might be useful for a gamer.

  4. rocasmiran Says:

    Actually No.4 is very similar to my Logitech’s Cordless Optical Trackman, though actually it is a trackball the ergonomics and look are quite close.

  5. Natrix Says:

    Why is this article split up over 24 pages?

  6. Ryan Says:

    24 pages!? Well, I use autopager and adblock, so nerr nerr.

  7. atlien247 Says:

    Number 14 looks like it would be held like a phaser a la Star Trek. The trackball and buttons look like they may be a tad bit further forward than an average person’s thumb and fingers could reach comfortably. I’m just wondering how it tracks movement. Maybe this is the next iteration of the Wii-mote? :P

  8. squidmark Says:

    I’m with Natrix. Would it kill you guys to provide a print view link so I can see everything on one page.

  9. Harry McCracken Says:

    I’ve said this before and will say it again, but we cheerfully welcome visitors to this site who use ad blockers or tools like AutoPage; my blood doesn’t boil in the least to know you’re here. (We don’t need everyone to be exposed to ads–just enough people to make the site viable.) I’m also sorry if you don’t like clicking on slide shows, but one note: In response to past gripes, we tweaked the format so it’s possible on screens with decent resolution to see see everything and click ahead without having to scroll. I know that won’t make everybody happy, but as with all content on the Web, it’s up to you guys to decide whether the content is worth the effort…and if you don’t think it is, we’ll quickly go out of business…

    –Harry

  10. Bobby Says:

    Number 9 is similar to whats used on the PS3 Controller Keyboard – the keys double as a trackpad!

  11. K Says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen and used a mouse that was exactly like #12. Shaped like a pointy mouse, with purple ears. I presume it was part of some sort of kid-friendly interface, perhaps for an educational game.

  12. davidwr Says:

    Need a way to show this all on one page. Stopped reading when I couldn’t find “print” or “one-page” view button.

  13. Robert Lee Hotchkiss, Jr. Says:

    I actually found a mouse that looked exactly like the one pictured in slide 13. It was lying out on the sidewalk near where I live. It did not have any Disney branding. The base was beige and its two buttons were blue and orange. I really liked the two big buttons. So I took it home and kept meaning to hook it up. But by that point I had become so addicted to the scroll wheel which this mouse lacked that I couldn’t bring myself to give it a go.

  14. Michael Souris Says:

    Number 15 appears to be a high precision mouse; the recirculating ball bearing system is similar to that in a steering wheel column, providing a bearing surface with no “play”.

  15. Mihi Nomen Est Says:

    HeartBurnKid Says:
    August 6th, 2009 at 9:21 am

    #5 looks like it might be useful for a gamer.
    _____________________________

    It is. It just doesn’t have a track ball on the bottom.

    It’s programmable and lets people who like to use a keyboard to play games avoid getting their fingers on other keys and find themselves on the wrong end of a rail gun.

  16. JIm D Says:

    Disney did make and sell a mouse shaped like Mickey. I received one as a birthday gift, and I still have it.

  17. Matt Says:

    A guy I used to game with was deadly accurate with a desktop trackball.
    Absolute rail-gun wizardry.

  18. Jonathan Briggs Says:

    The mouse with 16 balls could also be some attempt to get by another patent on mice that could have said something like, “using a rolling ball to measure…” with the argument that “Ours uses 16 balls not one!”

  19. nx6 Says:

    I like how on the pyramid mouse at the beginning the user has six fingers.

  20. QDot Says:

    Mr McCracken:

    Please provide a premium, paid, ad-free, single-page version. I’d gladly pay $5-$25 annually, perhaps (much) more, up to what I used to pay for cable TV, if that premium service conveyed reciprocal rights on most other sites. But, baby steps first. Opt-in, paid service, please.

    Mr Murdoch has one thing right – once someone *professionally* popularizes AdBlock, it might be too late to switch.

    cheers,
    Tomasz

  21. Andy Says:

    Okay, so here’s a picture of a modern Nissan’s central console. I’ve got a car like this and it looks clearly similar to the final patent (page 24).

    http://www.carpages.co.uk/nissan/nissan_images/nissan_primera_console_12_05_04.jpg

    “I’m both impressed by the concept and glad it didn’t turn out that way.”

    Excluding the trackball, my car also has mounted buttons on the steering wheel for radio/cd and cruise control. I’ve also seen those in other cars. So don’t be glad ’cause in a way it DID turn out that way :D

  22. Big Ian Says:

    Hmmm you missed http://www.amazon.co.uk/Toshiba-E-Mouse-mouse-laser-wireless/dp/B000FMRYW0 the pen mouse (or mouse pen) which di actually make it into production.

  23. airship Says:

    On what planet is #24 anything other than incredibly dangerous? Even with a heads-up display we shouldn’t be paying attention to a cursor while we’re driving.

  24. Paul Even Says:

    I actually bought a telephone-mouse combo a few years ago from a dollar store (yep, only a buck!), with a PS-2 connection & headset/microphone. It worked, but the mike & speaker that were built into the mouse didn’t work at all – you really needed the headset. Usually had a poor connection with its many plugs.

  25. sheepmachine Says:

    #17: “where’s the rest of him?”

    THIS IS VIRTUAL REALITY, MAN.

  26. FYI Says:

    Regarding number 11, Google is your friend. There are plenty of car-shaped mice for sale. They are very popular with gear heads. Do a web search on “camaro mouse” or “mustang mouse”. Just to point out a few examples:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_electronics?ie=UTF8&search-alias=electronics&field-brandtextbin=Road%20Mice

  27. John Tittor Says:

    I spoke with the inventor of the Pyramid Mouse (#3). He was a bit of a fruit cake. His claim was that even children could use the pyramid mouse since the top of the pyramid was smaller. It was really uncomfortable to use.

    Then to demonstrate “pyramid power”, he pulled out this pyramid with a lobbed off top. There was a chunk of butter on the top. He claimed that pyramid power was preserving the butter and made me smell the stinking thing.

  28. soren121 Says:

    Number 5 looks just like the Belkin Nostromo SpeedPad N52. Lawsuit anyone?

  29. robert Says:

    #6 – I own a mouse almost exactly like that:

    Ergonomically, it’s not the ideal mouse, but it’s not the worst I’ve used. My only gripe with the keypad is that the keys are rather small. Overall, I like it; rather handy with a laptop, if you don’t mind the cord.

    I agree about #4 looking like the Trackman as well. I’ve also seen other mice that are very similar, though not with the same button placement; that’s the key to the weirdness of it.

  30. Luis E. Arzola Says:

    I have somewhere in my attic a functional mouse similar to #12 above. It was called the Kidz Mouse, made by Logitech(if I recall correctly,)and came with an educational game. It is small to fit a child’s hands, and the buttons are the mouse’s ears. It actuallyworks very well, and my wife used it for a time because it fit her hands better. However, she stopped using it because it did not have a scroll wheel.

  31. Vic Kley Says:

    Is there a point here (yup a pun) or just a few mouse like pointers that struck the author as amusing? It neither illuminates nor illustrates.

    Like most such things it completely misses core UI elements which as much as shapes have transformed the user experience of the mouse pointer.

    It also misses the fact that the basic ergonomics and range of devices was in place and understood by 1969 and almost none of the devices shown had anything to do with the formative days of pointers even mouse pointers.

  32. пaпa Says:

    На самом деле отличный блог! Спасибо огромное и… разумеется, пишите еще!

  33. ThinLodocult Says:

    Думаю, удачная статья

  34. Гагарин Says:

    Хорошо написано, спасибо за топик.

  35. Todd Says:

    "On what planet is #24 anything other than incredibly dangerous? Even with a heads-up display we shouldn't be paying attention to a cursor while we're driving. "

    @airship: AMEN!!! My GOD, what next?!?! It's not like we don't already have enough distractions on the road between a society full of ADHD, texting while driving (c'mon folks! They can wait 'til you reach a safe place to reply to them! Or… try the old fashioned way of CALLING and TALKING to them (as long as you have a hands free device that is!)) The last thing we need is yet another gadget that distracts our drivers from what is most important… watching the road and driving.

    However, with all that said and ranting off my chest… it does sound like pretty cool technology! ;o)

    Shell

    - from Tucson Printing

  36. Mike Says:

    I love innovators! Too bad they all can't be good at what they do.

  37. web hosting Says:

    although it seems uncomfortable i have a microsoft mouse that looks like it, and is very comfortable, but it has "sinkers". So you have the option to make it lighter or heavier.

  38. Ergonomic Mouse Says:

    There are some crazy mouse patents out there. I myself designed the DXT Ergonomic Mouse and spent 3 years looking at mouse patents. Hard work is all i can say!!

7 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Пресата presata.com» Blog Archive » Ill-Fated Input Devices: Wonderfully Strange, But Tragically Flawed [Patents] Says:

    [...] Original 1967 mouse patent? Check. Crazy virtual reality input methods? Ditto. In addition to abandoned pyramid-shaped and Timex clock mice, highlights include a mouse that has a telephone built into it, and another that’s built-into a telephone. [Technologizer] [...]

  2. Ill-Fated Input Devices: Wonderfully Strange, But Tragically Flawed [Patents] Says:

    [...] Original 1967 mouse patent? Check. Crazy virtual reality input methods? Ditto. In addition to abandoned pyramid-shaped and Timex clock mice, highlights include a mouse that has a telephone built into it, and another that’s built-into a telephone. [Technologizer] [...]

  3. Ill-Fated Input Devices: Wonderfully Strange, But Tragically Flawed [Patents] | HyipLife.com - Information House Says:

    [...] Original 1967 mouse patent? Check. Crazy virtual reality input methods? Ditto. In addition to abandoned pyramid-shaped and Timex clock mice, highlights include a mouse that has a telephone built into it, and another that’s built-into a telephone. [Technologizer] [...]

  4. The Top 15 Technologizer Stories of 2009 | Technologizer Says:

    [...] Mouse Trouble: 20 Weird Pointing Device Patents: Fascinatingly odd pointing devices, including my favorite: the pointy, palm-threatening pyramid [...]

  5. Jobs Calls Out Android Over Porn — Think Geek Australia Says:

    [...] Mouse Trouble: 20 Weird Pointing Device Patents [...]

  6. How America Clicked Says:

    [...] silly. As with tech products of all sorts, the history of the remote control is rife with fresh, original approaches to an old idea that got [...]

  7. How America Clicked | SEBATAS INFO Says:

    [...] silly. As with tech products of all sorts, the history of the remote control is rife with fresh, original approaches to an old idea that got [...]