The History and Evolution of the Mouse

In the prehistoric days of computers, mice were more like men -- they all had balls. These balls did perform a function, however, they were constantly getting rolled around in dirty places, and therefore everything within the mouse that touched them, likewise became dirty.

There was simply no avoiding all the dirt, and as it would build up on every part of the mouse that touched the balls, the mouse progressively became more of a PITA for its user, until it eventually reached a point that it seemed useless.

Some users learned how to clean the things that touched the balls, and those users enjoyed very long mouse life -- eventually a switch would fail or a cord would chafe, but that took years.  The footies wore out back then too, but they weren't quite so important, footies were more about reducing friction than anything else. The ball still rolled long after the footies were gone -- worst case: a fallen footie would get picked-up by the ball.

Way back when, a decent, manly mouse would last for years, and would work well as long as it was regularly cleaned in the places where it touched the ball.

But evolution has changed all that, gone are the manly mice with their dirty balls, a more elegant creature roams the modern-day desktop. It doesn't need to touch anything dirty, it peeks at the desktop moving below it with lights or lasers.

These mice without balls virtually never need to be cleaned. Sticking [for mechanical reasons] is a thing of the past -- what a utopian course for history to follow, right?

Well, not so fast, there is a hitch: angle and distance from the clean and touchless light, to the surface of the desktop is now integral to function. Footies aren't just about friction anymore, they are required by the scheme that made balls obsolete.

When footies wear out or fall off, the modern mouse becomes every bit as useless as the manly mice with unclean things that touched their balls. Back then, at least, the problem was easily corrected. But what of now?

Now that the footies are mission-critical, you'd think they might be held on at least a little better than they were in days of old, but sadly -- and shockingly -- such is not the case: the footies are attached exactly as well as they were almost 20 years ago... maybe not even quite as well! A shallow indent, a dab of rubber cement... and that's it.

When the footies start to slide in the first month, and the mouse maker can't be troubled to provide new ones, (forget about attaching them well in the first place,) the ROI on your $50-$100 investment into a premium rodent starts looking pretty dismal. The foolish tendency is to rub the off-station footies back into their footie sockets; much smarter it would be to just return it while the store will still take it back... but I digress...

So in conclusion, the evolution seems awfully selective. If this device has truly evolved from a cromagnon man to a 21st century debutante, what's up with the hairy knuckles still dragging the ground? Why hasn't the footies' newly critical nature been addressed? Why aren't footies treated as a wear part, that needs to be readily servicable?

How many new mice are sold, just because the footies on an otherwise working old one are unservicable?  Could early failure be part of the plan? 

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Copyright ©2005 Mark J. McGinty, All rights reserved