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Mouse Systems Corporation, formerly Rodent Associates, was founded in 1982 by Steve Kirsch, inventor of the optical mouse. 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.
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.
- Rodent Associates make computer mice, InfoWorld, May 17, 1982
- Speech tech, mice draw crowds at Mini/Micro 82, InfoWorld, Oct 11, 1982
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