Former Apple Engineer Recalls Steve Jobs' Great Displeasure with Multi-Button Mouse Concepts

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 11, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Steve Jobs' great displeasure about the the idea of a multi-button mouse was apparently the driving force behind Apple's push to greatly innovate in the area of input devices, according to a new interview with Apple's former Senior Mechanical Engineer of Product Design Abraham Farag (via Cult of Mac).

    Farag, who is the current owner of product development firm Sparkfactor Design, says that he was brought onboard to Apple in 1999 to design a successor to the original Apple USB "hockey puck" mouse, which shipped with the iMac G3 in 1998 and garnered heavy criticism for its small size, short cord, and tendency to rotate in a user's hand.

    From left to right: Apple's USB "Hockey Puck" Mouse, Pro Mouse, Mighty Mouse, and Magic Mouse ​
    The designer said that Apple's design team had worked on five complete prototypes to show Jobs, complete with lines cut for buttons and different plastic parts. Farag noted that the team made a last-minute choice to work on one more prototype model, which resembled the Apple Desktop Bus Mouse II.

    However, that last prototype was not finished as Jobs entered the room to look at the group of potential mice, which led to an encounter between the CEO and the design team:
    The unfinished model that Jobs designated as his choice eventually became the Apple Pro Mouse, and began shipping in 2000. Farag believed Apple was the first to create a mouse that used an LED for optical tracking in place of a rubber ball, as the team looked toward building a successor worthy of the Apple Pro Mouse. Once again, Apple's design team wanted to create a mouse with multiple buttons, as Farag recalled a meeting with Apple design chief Jony Ive in which multiple prototypes were being discussed.
    Farag notes that it was Jobs' persistence to create a mouse unlike anything on the market that helped Apple in the long run, and that the concept of built-in capacitive sensors to emulate the presence of multiple buttons eventually changed the former CEO's mind about multi-function mice.

    Apple then went on to produce the Mighty Mouse, which was the company's first mouse to ditch the one-button philosophy, and followed it up with the Magic Mouse, which features multi-touch gesture controls and is currently included with every new iMac.

    Article Link: Former Apple Engineer Recalls Steve Jobs' Great Displeasure with Multi-Button Mouse Concepts
  2. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604

    Oct 13, 2008
  3. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Wow that black pro mouse is beautiful. I want one now lol
  4. yuenadan macrumors newbie


    Sep 3, 2010
    Taipei, Taiwan
    Interesting piece of history. I'd also like to hear more development about Apple's modern-day trackpad. It's a joy to use on my MacBook Air, and for productive work I think it blows a touch a touchscreen right out of the water. It makes using my a mouse on my Windows PC painful to use by comparison.
  5. theipodgod16 macrumors 6502

    Aug 10, 2003
    Berkeley, CA
    I've owned each one. Magic Mouse is by far the best, though the Pro Mouse looked cooler.

    Sometimes improvements come at the relative sacrifice of aesthetics.
  6. ChristianVirtual macrumors 601


    May 10, 2010
    I'm very happy with the Magic Mouse, look nice, easy to use and clean. miss that one with my windows in company
  7. Andy-V macrumors 6502

    Oct 1, 2007
    For me personally, Apple has never made a mouse I enjoy using.
  8. mabhatter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 3, 2009
    If Steve wasn't crazy about zero mouse buttons, the trackpad wouldn't work so well with the OS. When you use a Unix-like OS that expects 3-button mice with "hidden" actions all over the place you start to appreciate how rid if Apple adhered to keeping the OS functions tied to just ONE pointing action.

    That's why when they "pulled the rug" out from iOS pointing it worked so much better than Windows or Android that have to emulate those hidden buttons devs won't let go of.
  9. SmoMo macrumors regular


    Aug 20, 2011

    People always criticise Steve Job's hatred of multi button mouses, but I'm not sure they realise he only had one finger.
    That's why he always kept his hands behind his back and would secretly poke his finger up onto the desk to click the mouse when no-one was watching.
  10. dilbert99 macrumors 68020

    Jul 23, 2012
    Both windows and OSX use the right mouse button click to bring up a contextual menu. Its silly to only have a one button mouse which forces the second button to the keyboard only.
  11. BBCWatcher macrumors regular

    Jan 28, 2008
    LED-based optical mice have been around a very long time. Originally they used special mouse pads with grids.

    Microsoft (with some help from HP) introduced a pad-less, ball-less optical mouse in 1999. And they may not have been the first either, but they were a bit ahead of Apple, to their credit.

    I don't think Farag's memory is accurate on this point.
  12. Ddyracer macrumors 68000


    Nov 24, 2009
  13. lamerica80 macrumors 6502a


    May 22, 2008
    Ive never cared for apples mouses. The one button thing was just annoying and unnecessarily. The magic mouse looks cool but not very comfortable for doing a lot of photoshop, video editing etc.
  14. srminton macrumors regular


    Sep 5, 2008
    It's obviously a matter of taste, because the magic mouse is the best mouse I've ever used. When I use my Windows PC, I miss it. The swipe-gestures on the magic mouse make web browsing and general navigation much snappier, right-click works perfectly without the keyboard, double-tap to zoom is great, and I find the magic mouse especially comfortable for long sessions of video editing etc. But, each to their own - I know someone who swears by the that little pointer-stick thing on Lenovo laptops, says he can't use a laptop which doesn't have one, and I can't stand those at all. :)
  15. everything-i macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2012
    London, UK
    IMO Apple have never made a good mouse. The best input device they have ever produce in the magic trackpad, I love using that. The trackpads on their laptops are also better than anything any other manufacturer has done by a mile.
  16. mabaker macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2008
    I really miss him. He had the power like no one else. He gave direction no one else dared to steer to. Now the ship is sailing but fir how long before it get overtaken by the "Apple approval process"?
  17. Macboy Pro macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2011
    I happen to agree with you. The magic mouse looks great, but functionally, it is not as easy to use as a standard mouse. Also, its about 60% more expensive, which is another downfall.
  18. Alenore macrumors 6502

    Apr 7, 2013
    I love my magic mouse, except for all these stupid swipe I constantly do when switching from mouse to keyboard ; ;
  19. kirky29 macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Lincolnshire, England
    I think years of the Mighty and now the magic mouse have warped my hands... it hurts to use regular mice!
    I love the Magic Mouse though.
  20. flottenheimer macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
    I feel the very same way. To me Apple mice (every single one of them) are all form over function/ergonomics. As an Apple purist I have really tried. But I have ultimately given up on all of them.

    On the other hand our friends at Apple have seriously nailed the trackpad (all laptops+magic trackpad).
    Big in size. No need to physically click when using 'Tab to click'. Multitouch. And that oh so perfect surface.
    It is trackpad heaven.
  21. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    So Steve thought it would be better to hold down the control key on a separate keyboard "device" instead of just adding a right mouse mutton?
  22. batchtaster macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2008
    There is a significant difference: on OS X, you don't have to. You are absolutely not forced to use the second button. It is an Apple UI guideline that no commands should be in the contextual menu that are not available somewhere else. The Mac has always been designed to be approachable by anyone. That means, if you have never used a mouse before, you don't have to think about main- or secondary-clicking, what each means and why, or aiming with a weaker finger. You point. You click. You start with the simplest methods - click once, click a menu in the menubar, click a command. When you get proficient, you can do fancier stuff. Action menus in the Finder window. Trackpad multi-touch gestures. It's the entire reason the menubar still exists. I'm sure Adobe could come up with a way of using Photoshop that required no menubar at all, á la X Window. Why don't they? Because that menubar is the foundation of the Mac UI, and has been from the very beginning. And the mouse is designed to accompany it. (I recall the outcry when the original proposal was to place the Apple symbol in the middle of the menubar, symbolically shining over all on the screen - they were forced to put it back on the left and give it a purpose.) How many commands on Windows can you not do without a secondary-click? A bunch of the desktop organisational ones for starters. Does your grandma know how to clean up her desktop?

    And yes, I realise in this day and age, people who have never used a mouse before a thin on the ground (although the number is probably on the upturn with iPads and other touchable interfaces).

    Whether you agree or not, that's why it is the way it is. Which is not the same as Windows. Secondary-clicking is an option for Mac (among several). It's required on Windows.
  23. Someyoungguy macrumors 6502

    Oct 28, 2012
    If only I hadn't had to put duct tape on the inside of the battery door to keep (now two of them) from disconnecting I, too, would share in your enthusiasm.
  24. imajez macrumors regular


    Mar 11, 2014
    "Farag believed Apple was the first to create a mouse that used an LED for optical tracking in place of a rubber ball, as the team looked toward building a successor worthy of the Apple Pro Mouse."

    Believed incorrectly as I was using PCs back then and I recall Apple launching their 'revolutionary' [or some similar overegged superlative] optical mouse as an fantastic innovation. Which may have come as a surprise to Microsoft and others who had sold such things for quite a while. Plus they had multi-buttons so were far more user friendly.

    I never understood Jobs hatred of buttons or cursor keys. Single button mice and keyboards without cursors are inferior in use to those that are not crippled.
    Insisting on a mouse with one button whilst it sat next to a keyboard with over a hundred seemed a bit daft really. Particularly as you had to use one of them to make the mouse work properly, meaning a single button mouse needed two hands to use. :confused:
    As the the dreadful puck mouse, I know people with permanent RSI as a result of using that abomination.
  25. wikiverse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 13, 2012
    Apple mice are terrible. The Magic Mouse is a nice concept, but It sucks for video. You end up zooming and side scrolling all over the place when you readjust the mouse in your hand.

    I shouldn't need to have hover hand or hover fingers when using a mouse.

    There's a reason no other manufacturer has copied that design.

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