From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- This article is about mouse mats for computer mice. Mousepad is also the name of a text editor for Xfce.
A mousepad, or mouse mat, is a surface for enhancing the movement of a computer mouse.
History of the mousepad
Doug Engelbart's original 1968 demo video of mouse usage shows a keyboard/mouse "tray" special-made for the purpose. According to Alex Pang, Jack Kelley, the Herman Miller office furniture designer, invented the first mousepad while working in Engelbart's lab; this claim is also made on the Herman Miller site. This "pad" was probably the "tray" seen in the video.
The first publication showing the invention of the mousepad is in the Xerox Disclosure Journal, 1979, by Armando M. Fernandez, a technician at Xerox at that time. Fernandez was the first to invent, name and document the mousepad. The computer mouse at that time had been improved to incorporate a rolling steel ball as an upside-down trackball. However, the steel ball still collected debris, causing the internal rollers to stick and skip, and thereby causing the pointer movement to become jittery and inaccurate on the display; this sticking problem was solved by the traction of rolling on a customized surface mousepad.
After the 1979 Fernandez publication, the mousepad soon became a key element of office computers, proving itself on computers such as the Xerox Alto (built about 1973), and Xerox Star 8010 office workstation in the 1980s. The first mousepad made by Fernandez consisted of a silicone rubber sheet surface material secured to a rectangular clipboard with the same silicone rubber sheet material secured at the bottom of the clipboard as anti-slide feet. The silicone rubber surface was required to develop the needed traction for the steel roller-ball to perform effectively. At a later time the rubberized silicone surface was incorporated as a covering over the steel roller ball in order to improve needed traction.
Benefits of the mousepad
The three most important benefits of the introduction of the mousepad were higher speed, more precision, and comfort for the user. A secondary benefit was keeping the desk or table surface from being scratched and worn by continuous hand and mouse rubbing motion. Another benefit was reduction of the collection of debris under the mouse, which resulted in reduced jitter of the pointer on the display.
When optical mice were introduced into the market, they required special mousepads with appropriate optical patterns, as distinct from the mechanical properties of mousepads for ball mice.
Types of mousepads
A variety of mousepads exist with many different textured surfaces to fit various different types of mouse technologies. Vinyl board cover, because of its tackiness, was a popular mousepad surface around 1980.
When the first optical mouse appeared in the mid-1980s, it required a mousepad with printed hexagons in order to improve accuracy, speed and comfort; it was incapable of functioning on any other surface. After the rubberized silicon surface was incorporated onto the surface of the steel roller ball mouse, the popular fabric-surface mousepad was found to be the most appropriate. It helped keep the rubberized roller-ball surface cleaner and with better tracking, speed and accuracy than just a desk surface, which collected dirt and slowed the mouse's motion.
The hexagon-printed mousepads gave way to more accurate and speedy ones, with fabric material which provided a microscopically textured surface. Some mousepads for optical mice are shiny and gridded; although, newer optical mice do not require mousepads on most surfaces when precission, speed and comfort is not needed by the user. Specialized pads are used when extra accuracy is needed. Additionally, a number of paddings placed on various places on the mousepad increases comfort to the user.
Originally, mousepads were available in a simple rectangular shape. In recent years, though, they have been available in many shapes and designs. Ergonomic designs are available with built-in wrist rests made of silicone gel, foamed and beaded materials.
Companies often give away mousepads for promotional reasons, and computer manufacturers often include a mousepad with their logo on it, usually with technical support information. Many artists have published work on mousepads.
There is now a fairly large variety of high quality "gaming grade" mousepads. In the beginning there were only a few such manufacturers: Everglide (arguably the first to come onto the market), fUnc Industries, Icemat, SteelSeries and Ratpadz (made by [H]ard|OCP). In 2005 several more companies followed suit, including Razer, Qpad, Corepad, Xtracpads, X-Ray, Gamerzstuff, and Allsop. These pads are available in a wide variety of sizes to suit the different sensitivity settings that gamers choose. The Corepad Deskpad XXXL, possibly the largest pad on the market, is a massive 90cm x 45cm.
Modern mousepads are typically made of foam rubber with fabric bonded to the upper surface. However, many other types of material have been used, including fabric, plastics, recycled rubber tires, silicone rubber, leather, glass, cork, wood, aluminum, stone and stainless steel, for example. High-quality gaming mats are usually made from plastic.
- ^ Article on Engelbart's demo
- ^ Movie of Engelbart's demo
- ^ Alex Pan article on mouse
- ^ Herman Miller page on Jack Kelley
- ^ Xerox Disclosure Journal 1979
- ^ Armando M. Fernandez blog re mousepad invention