Mouse and CAT

Photo of author


In computer parlance, a mouse is a pointing device that converts two-dimensional motion relative to a surface into the movement of a cursor on a computer screen. A mouse consists of one or more buttons and often, a wheel or touch surface. The mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1960s and presented to the world in what has been dubbed the Mother of All Demos. At that time, only a few people understood computers and their uses, today anyone can visit a website like Tech Recipes to answer his computer questions. The cords on the earliest mouse prototypes attached at the back of the device, giving it the rough appearance of a mouse. The position of the cord proved to be annoying, and it was moved to the front of the mouse. Nevertheless, the name stuck. An alternative explanation for the naming of the mouse is given in Mr. Engelbart’s obituary in the New York Times. Roger Bates, an undergraduate student at the time of the invention of the computer mouse, states that the computer cursor was, at the time, called a CAT. It seemed a logical and whimsical idea to name the computer peripheral that chased the CAT around the screen, a mouse. The plural form of the computer mouse is mouses, when the word mouse refers to an animal, the plural is mice.


A little more than two minutes into the trailer for the new film “Steve Jobs,” an image of a young girls manipulating a computer mouse flashes on the screen. (The Aspen Times)

Children can paint sounds with a computer mouse and learn to distinguish how musical pitches and rhythms differ. (The Wall Street Journal)

Mr. Bates said the name was a logical extension of the term then used for the cursor on a screen: CAT. (The New York Times)