[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Advent of the Mouse Wheel

September 28th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Early Microsoft Intellimouse Intellimouse Trackball advertisement - 1997“In fact, don’t even come in on Monday.”

It’s amazing to think back to a time when the now-common mouse scroll wheel was billed as a labor saving device.

But that is exactly what’s going on in this early ad for Microsoft’s Intellimouse and Intellimouse TrackBall. The Intellimouse series, first introduced in 1996, popularized the scroll wheel.

(By the way, the first mouse with a scroll wheel was actually the Mouse Systems ProAgio in 1995 — see this timeline I created in 2008 for more neat mouse history.)

A long time ago, people thought modernization and labor saving devices would lead to shorter workdays and work weeks. As someone once said somewhere (fuzzy attribution, I know), it turns out that productivity enhancements cease to be productivity enhancements as soon as they are ubiquitous. We just acclimate to them and expect more output for the same amount of work time.

Oh well. Keep on scrollin’.

[ From PC World, November 1997, p.199]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you first get a mouse with a scroll wheel on it? How did you feel about it at the time?

See Also:

The First Microsoft Mouse (RSOTW, 2007)
TrackMan Marble FX (RSOTW, 2008)
IBM ScrollPoint Mouse (RSOTW, 2010)

7 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Advent of the Mouse Wheel”

  1. TNLongFellow Says:

    I got mine off Yahoo auctions (when there was such a thing) for 8.00 and the seller was mad. This was back in 1998 or 1999 when they were really expensive so I got a great deal on it 🙂 It was not the Microsoft one but I used it for years until it finally stopped working. I also have the Intellimouse that is featured in this article and I have to say that the roller style mouse I still enjoy but not the cleaning of those little rollers with that line of gunk they get.

  2. Kouban Says:

    I’m pretty sure my first wheelmouse was also my last ball-mouse, back in the early 2000s.
    I remember a dumb ad for a wheel mouse from the same period as this ad that had quotes from various users, and one of them included the sentence “Scroll buttons are for lamerz.”

  3. Moondog Says:

    I was aware of them in 98-99, however I think it was around 2000 when I finally bought mine. I was issued one with a new computer at work, and decided it was worth getting one for home use.

  4. mcmilhouse Says:

    I honestly think that style of mouse is still the most comfortable.
    I remember in the late 90s these were so much cheaper online then at staples, computer city etc

  5. Ant Says:

    I still don’t like and use mouse wheels much.

  6. Bill S Says:

    I think the 2nd mouse I owned back in ’97 or so from Mouse Systems had a scroll wheel on it.

    Bit of trivia about trackball systems; the first was created for the British military for use with NATO radar plotting systems.


    (That’s a damn fine read for fans of early computer history, too.)

  7. Alexander Says:

    I found myself using a scroll wheel in about 2004 using one of those exact same mice. In fact, I still have one I use.

    The feature I find myself using them for the most is clicking the center wheel’s button, then moving the mouse to do fast scrolling with minimal finger movement. It frustrates me when I go to use that feature on an unfamiliar computer, and it’s absent.

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