Mouse Systems

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Mouse Systems Corporation, formerly Rodent Associates, was founded in 1982 by Steve Kirsch, inventor of the optical mouse.[1] In addition to being a vehicle for Kirsch's invention, the company was responsible for bringing the mouse to the IBM PC for the first time.

Mouse Systems' optical mouse, wired to a Sun workstation and an Atari 400 running Missile Command, attracted many observers at the October, 1982 Mini/Micro '82 conference in Anaheim, attended by over 10,000 people—and won a "best new product" award.[2]

Mouse Systems mouse of a Sun workstation on its mousepad
Mousepad grid detail

Like all early optical mice, their debut product relied on a special metallic and reflective mousepad printed with a square grid of grey and blue tracking lines: as the device moved over the pad, LED feedback was processed by an on-board microchip, which in turn supplied the host computer with machine-readable tracking data via an RS-232 serial port. An external power supply was required. Some mice would derive their power supply from the keyboard connector on the motherboard and came with a pass-through connector to be inserted before the keyboard cable.

Early Sun workstations used MSC optical mice exclusively. Initial models came with large mousepads with well-spaced lines, while later models were smaller and used a much tighter grid.

In 1982 MSC acquired rights to PCPaint from Microtex Industries, the first mouse-driven image manipulation program for the IBM PC, written in Assembly language by Doug Wolfgram. Mouse Systems wanted the software re-developed to look more like Apple's Mac Paint so Wolfgram brought in co-developer John Bridges and together they re-wrote the program in C with an updated user interface. Millions of copies were shipped, primarily bundled with all their mice until the early 1990s.

KYE Systems, producer of the Genius brand of mice, acquired Mouse Systems in 1990.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rodent Associates make computer mice, InfoWorld, May 17, 1982
  2. ^ Speech tech, mice draw crowds at Mini/Micro 82, InfoWorld, Oct 11, 1982

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