Keyboard and Mouse, Bundled No Longer?

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Keyboard + Mouse

The keyboard and the mouse are the best known and most widely used computer input devices. But they may not be around forever.

The union of the two best known computer input devices, the mouse and the keyboard, seems so strong that we take it for granted they will stay together forever. When did you hear of one without the other being mentioned in the vey next breath? They come in combos, they are bundled, they go together like – well, like horse and carriage.

And now the computer world powers-to-be seem to be conspiring to set them asunder!

Can you have the one without the other?

On the brink of mouse-less future


The history of the computer mouse goes way back to 1963. It was invented by Douglas Engelbart of Stanford Research Center, pioneered by Xerox in the 1970s, popularised by Apple and Microsoft in the 1980s (that’s when the latter got the upper hand over its long-standing competitor by upping the number of mouse buttons to two).

The taste of the ' 80ies: the Apple and the Microsoft mouse

The mouse was hailed as one of the greatest breakthroughs in computer ergonomics, because it supplemented the keyboard so beautifully. It provided such significant advantages to the users of Windows OS that for a while in the 1990s Microsoft offered a bundled mouse and Windows package.

In its long history, the mouse went though many transformations: serial, PS2, USB, wireless, trackball, wheel, optical, infrared, laser... Through all these metamorphoses, the device basically remained the same little creature running around the surface of the desk, helping us tell our commuter what to do.

Now they’d have us dispense with the mouse altogether and communicate with our computer by touching the screen and, every now and then, dragging our finger along it.

No, it’s not some imagined conspiracy theory. In fact, Microsoft (e tu, Brute!) has come up with what many suspect is a transitional mouse – transitional to its own extinction, that is.

It is called Touch Mouse. The manufacturer says that with Touch Mouse you can do everything you are used to doing with a mouse (point, click, drag). Plus, you can give commands by moving your fingers across the surface of the device, which is populated with a multitude of sensors that track movement and essentially simulate a touch screen.

“Essentially simulate a touch screen”: yes, it is this innocent-looking phrase that may spell the death of the mouse. The so called transitional device’s insidious intent is to get you used to controlling your mouse by touching it, as opposed to sliding it and clicking it.

Once you get hooked to the touchy-feely stuff, you have practically accepted a mouse-less way of communicating with your computer by touching the screen! (Hello! Do they have any idea how difficult it is to keep that screen clean?!)

Going retro with the keyboard


But even if the mouse is doomed, the keyboard is here to stay, right?
The keyboard is the most commonly used and the most versatile device that enables the direct human input into computers. It is there to remind us that our personal computer (or laptop) is first and foremost a digitalised typewriter.

The story of the keyboard is so tightly linked with the story of the typewriter that the beginnings of the modern computer keyboard go straight back to the invention of the typewriter by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1867 (and you thought the mouse was old!).

Reinvent it as you wish, there’s no hiding where the keyboard’s original design came from. As a matter of fact, there has been recently a revival of the mechanical keyboard, the one that gives off a good old "click" when a button is pressed.

Most standard keyboards have rubber domes under their keys. You have to push the key all the way down against a solid piece of plastic. With mechanical keyboards, you need to apply only the necessary amount of pressure, because they are designed to register the pressure of typing fingers before bottoming out.

And even though mechanical keyboards are heavier, more expensive and much louder than standard keyboards, many computer users are going back to them.

Does that confirm the hope expressed in the question at the beginning of this section? Is the keyboard indeed safe from people who can’t let be, but have to go changing everything? Perhaps not, it turns out...

The classic: IBM Model M keyboard

According to digital world trend-watchers, computers are increasingly being used for browsing the internet, uploading photos, or downloading music. And for tasks of that order, you do not need a keyboard.

“Multitouch on the iPad and other media tablets has liberated users from the hardware keyboard and pointing device,” says Gartner, and bidorbuyers seem to agree. In one average week in October 2011, they bought almost as many iPads and other tablets (125) as laptops and netbooks (144). In the same period, desktop computers recorded only 23 sales.

True, keyboard still comes in handy for creating a short-hand Facebook message or a caption under a photo, and that may be the keyboard’s saving grace. Al least until the computer world powers-to-be perfect that voice recognition thingy that translates the spoken word into text, and that gesture thingy that lets us tell our computer what to do by waving at it (or shaking our fist at it), or that eye movement tracking thingy...

In short, head for the bidorbuy keyboard and mouse section and get your bundle before one – or both – of the venerable pair is buried into oblivion.


Some strange devices:

The Smakay mouse of 1970s and
Combimouse, a patented and award winning
design combination keyboard and mouse
featuring a standard QWERTY keyboard and
an integrated standard mouse.


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