(From eSchool News September 2005 print edition)

Apple Computer on Aug. 2 introduced its first computer mouse with multiple buttons, including four sensors and a tiny scroll ball. Although a departure from the company’s traditional mouse, the “Mighty Mouse” looks very similar to the single-button model Apple has long produced.

The most obvious difference is the relatively tiny scroll ball at the mouse’s head, which can move cursors diagonally as well as up and down across display screens and can be pressed to “click” functions.

Like Microsoft Corp., Apple has for years built added functionality into its operating systems to accommodate multi-button mice. But you had to buy mice made by other manufacturers, such as Microsoft or Logitech, to take advantage.

Designers of the new Apple device wanted a scroll ball that was less obtrusive than other models and wouldn’t impede those who chose not to use it, said David Moody, vice president of product marketing for Macintosh hardware.

In lieu of actual buttons beyond the scroll ball, the optical-scanning mouse has four sensors that can be programmed for multiple actions, just like the left and right buttons on many PC mouses.

Mighty Mouse, which connects via a USB port, will retail for $49. It is PC-compatible but won’t be able to move your cursor diagonally in Microsoft’s Windows, Apple said.

Rolling out a multi-button mouse eliminates another important difference between Macs and PCs. In May, Apple announced that it would cease using IBM processors in favor of Intel chips, which power most PCs.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.)

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