The curse of the computer mouse

Posted on by 43,816 views

I am old enough to remember the first modern personal computers, in particular the Apple Lisa (precursor to the Macintosh), which was the first to have a “mouse”. This was a magical device and I remember lining up at computer shows to play with it. It is hard to imagine now, but previous to that, even with the Apple personal computers, like the Apple II, the only method of interaction was the keyboard. So we had to press specific keys to open a file, edit it, save it, etc.

Most computer users today would think that the addition of a mouse is an obvious step forward. How else would you get to the menus, dialogue boxes etc? Well, in the old days there were no menus and dialogue boxes. Putting aside interactive graphics, where a mouse or even a drawing tablet would be needed, my view is that the mouse has been a retrogressive step, and reduced efficiency in the use of computers. You only need to look at an operator working with a keyboard based text editor (Emacs or Vim) and it is clear that any mouse based operations would slow them down.

The problem is that we are used to having software that has a very shallow learning curve. But in order to use a software efficiently, it is worth spending time learning keyboard commands and doing away with the mouse as much as possible. At the very least we should learn the keyboard shortcuts in programs that have them.

Category: Computers, Life

2 comments on “The curse of the computer mouse

  1. Apart from the health issues created by the mouse (Repetitive Strain Injury, RSI), I noticed a real problem with mouse-based interfaces in that you cannot communicate actions verbally very well, e.g. over the phone line.
    • Thank you for this comment. Yes, I agree that mouse movement cannot be documented, and of course it cannot be automated, so an operator is always needed, hence slowing down workflows.