After 34 years of Apple-brand pointing devices, you can sum up Apple’s input philosophy as thus: Stubborn simplicity. With only a few exceptions, Apple’s mice and trackpads have been minimalistic and easy to use. Frequently, they stir up widely-imitated changes in the industry. And more than once, Apple went with a design that proved to be too radical, inciting the ire of even the Apple faithful. In the slides ahead, we’ll take a look at over three decades of Apple pointing device designs from 1979 to the present. Even for Apple veterans, a few of them may surprise you.
Apple Graphics Tablet (1979)
In an era when the Apple II Plus represented the pinnacle of Apple computer hardware, the company released its first non-paddle pointing device, the Graphics Tablet. Using the included stylus, you could draw images on the screen in a manner very similar to a graphic tablet today, like those made by Wacom.[Photo: C.A.S.E. Computer Museum]
Lisa Mouse (1983)
[Photo: Benj Edwards]
Apple’s first mouse shipped with the Apple Lisa, a machine which marked the company’s first foray into graphical user interfaces. The Lisa mouse pioneered the use of a rubberised metal ball plus two optical encoder wheels positioned at 90 degree angles from each other to track movement. The low-cost mouse (relative to previous mice from other companies) also introduced the one-button mouse concept, which Apple stuck with for 22 years.
Macintosh Mouse (1984), Mouse IIe (1986)
The Macintosh Mouse debuted, unsurprisingly, with the original Mac in 1984. While internally very similar to its Lisa predecessor, its exterior sported a new design with a larger button that mirrored the proportions of the Mac itself. The Mac Mouse originally shipped in a beige/brown colour scheme that was later changed to “platinum” grey to match a company-wide design shift in 1987. Apple also used the same design for its Mouse IIe, a later companion to the Apple IIe computer system.
Mouse IIc (1984), Mouse II (1984), Mouse (1985)
With the launch of the Apple IIc in 1984, Apple released a matching mouse, the Mouse IIc. While more-or-less electronically compatible with the Macintosh mouse, it shipped with a completely different exterior. Also in 1984, Apple released the Mouse II, which kept the same external design of the IIc mouse and shipped with a mouse interface card and the MousePaint drawing program for earlier Apple II machines. Apple later revised the Mouse IIc’s internal electronics to improve compatibility between various Apple II models and the Macintosh, resulting in a name change to “Apple Mouse” in 1985.
Apple Desktop Bus Mouse (1986)
The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse launched as part of the Apple IIgs computer system in 1986. It included a completely new design and a new 4-pin Mini-DIN connector that hooked up to Apple’s new desktop bus, which the company designed for keyboards, mice, and other simple peripherals. The ADB Mouse made its way over to Macs in 1987 alongside the Macintosh SE and Macintosh II computers. It would remain the standard Mac mouse until 1993.
Macintosh Portable Trackball (1989)
[Photo: Benj Edwards]
In 1989, Apple released its first trackball as part of its first battery-operated portable computer, the Macintosh Portable. Users could actually remove the trackball and keyboard assembly and reposition them to accommodate left-handed users. Apple continued using trackballs its laptop computers until 1994.
Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II (1993)
Seven years after the debut of the ADB Mouse, Apple’s standard mouse finally got an upgrade. The Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II retained similar mechanical characteristics to its predecessor but received a rounded, ergonomic industrial design.
Apple PowerBook 500-series Trackpad (1994)
Not just Apple’s first, but the world’s first laptop trackpad debuted in the PowerBook 500 series in May 1994. It allowed users to position an on-screen mouse cursor by moving a single finger on a touch-sensitive pad, replacing the need to include a trackball.
By Benj Edwards (@benjedwards). Macworld