It may seem antiquated in this day of laptops and smartphones, but the mouse pad still deserves its moment in the spotlight. After all, we wouldn’t be quite where we are in technology without it.

Who invented mouse pads? Why? Click through and find out just where this office staple came from!

Thanks to the rise in both tablet and computer use, there’s more need – and more selections – than ever for fun, decorative mouse pads.

– Retrieved from Gifts & Decorative Accessories, a monthly magazine founded in 1917

https://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Basis/mouse.html

When Was the Computer Mouse Invented?

The computer mouse was invented in 1963 by a WWII veteran named Douglas C. Engelbart and his partner William “Bill” English. The pair worked together at the Stanford Research Institute on a prototype, which was a wooden block with a single button and wheels underneath. They gave it the name “mouse” because “the tail came out of the end.”

Unfortunately, the world didn’t have a ton of use for Engelbart and English’s mouse when it debuted at the “Mother of All Demos” demonstration in San Francisco in 1968. In fact, the mouse didn’t gain worldwide recognition until it was paired with Apple’s Macintosh 20 years later.

Apple’s mouse was fitted at the bottom with a rubber rollerball, which was much more efficient than the prototype developed at Stanford. Regardless, both of these early models paved the way for the future of computer mice, and eventually, the emergence of mouse pads.

https://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Basis/mouse.html
https://www.hermanmiller.com/designers/kelley

Who Invented the Mouse Pad?

A mouse pad created by Jack Kelley was invented and displayed in 1968 “The Mother of All Demos.” It was a simple insert that was merely meant to support the world’s first computer mouse.

Kelley worked with Douglas Englebart at a furniture company named Herman Miller. He made the super simple mouse pad merely to support Englebart’s invention and didn’t really think much more of it than that. The mouse pad wasn’t expected to really make an impact.

Just like the computer mouse, the mouse pad became more valuable 20 years later when Apple came out with the Macintosh. Kelley, Englebart, and English were basically ahead of the curve with the technology. We have them to thank for having the highly-functional desktops that we use today.

https://www.hermanmiller.com/designers/kelley
https://tedium.co/2016/07/12/mouse-pads-invention-history

When Did Mouse Pads Become Popular?

To meet the demand for mouse pads, Bob McDermand and his company, Mousetrak, started mass producing mouse pads featuring the Apple logo in the 80s. These were so successful the company went on to get licensing deals with Disney, LucasFilms, and Paramount.

https://tedium.co/2016/07/12/mouse-pads-invention-history
https://www.hermanmiller.com/designers/kelley

From that point on, you could get mouse pads printed with various characters! Who wouldn’t want their mouse paired with the world’s most famous mouse?

https://www.hermanmiller.com/designers/kelley

Even today, there’s still a wide variety of mouse pads featuring full color imprints and eye-catching designs. People in offices all over the world are using these personalized mouse pads to send emails, type out reports, edit documents, and so much more!

https://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Basis/mouse.html

Who Was Armando Fernandez?

A few sources also mention Armando Fernandez as deserving credit for the mouse pad. He worked for Xerox, and in 1979, created a rubber pad that wouldn’t slide off a desk.

Most of the computer mice produced by Xerox also included the “special pads” created by Fernandez. The only problem was Xerox was notorious for producing super expensive technology. In fact, their mouse ran for about $300 at the time, which is over $1,000 today!

It is this lack of accessibility and affordability that likely doomed Fernandez to the backseat when it comes to the invention of mouse pads. Still, it’s worth noting that he has a place in its history.

https://history-computer.com/ModernComputer/Basis/mouse.html

The term “mouse pad” was first used in 1983. It was part of an article published for a tech resource called InfoWorld.

https://www.cafepress.com/+john_mccain_for_president_mousepad_,213771723

How Have Mouse Pads Been Used Throughout History?

It may seem like a trivial item, but mouse pads have actually played a key role in various events and moments throughout history.

Take for instance Senator John McCain’s 2008 run for office. He offered mouse pads as souvenirs to those who made a contribution of at least $75 to his campaign. There were three options for donors, including one mouse pad that featured a glowing profile of the senator’s face. McCain could look at you every time you browsed the internet!

While McCain ended up losing that bid for office, the crowd still couldn’t get enough of the free swag. In fact, he ended up receiving over $164 million in donations during his presidential run!

What Are the Different Types of Mouse Pads?

A variety of different mouse pad styles and designs have emerged over the years. Here is what you have to choose from today:

Round

Do you have a smaller computer mouse? A round mouse pad might be good for you! The look is more unexpected, but just as efficient as other mats.

Square

The most common shape for mouse pads is square. It’s a classic look that you’ll find in office settings and college computer labs.

Soft

If you want some cushion, a soft mouse pad is a good choice! It’s made from foam or rubber with a textured fabric cover.

Hard

A hard mouse pad is made from rubber with a smooth plastic surface that’s easy to clean. This style is typically cheaper than a soft mouse pad.

Gaming

You can play a bunch of fun games on the computer. Gaming mouse pads are the preferred style as they’re specifically made to offer accuracy with very little friction.

https://www.razer.com/gaming-mouse-mats/razer-firefly

Light-Up

Companies like Razer have a wide variety of LED mouse pads. These add a pop of color to an otherwise boring desk.

Charging

A low phone battery is never a good sight to see. Luckily, you can stay at 100% with a mouse pad that doubles as a portable charger.

Shaped

Die cutting, which was invented in the mid-1800s, has made it possible for items to be cut in a variety of shapes. You can get mouse pads that look like houses, flowers, paw prints, and anything else imaginable.

Wrist Rest

It can be taxing on your tendons to click from a mouse all day. A comfy wrist rest gives you much needed support, especially during a long shift at work.

You can choose from the following styles for your mouse pads:

  • Round
  • Square
  • Soft
  • Hard
  • Gaming
  • Light-Up
  • Charging
  • Shaped
  • Wrist Rest

No matter what the shape or size, almost every mouse pad features some kind of logo or design printed on the front. This is extremely great advertising for companies, big and small.

What is the Future of Mouse Pads?

Mouse pads still have a prominent place in the tech universe, even though we’re moving toward handheld devices. There’s something comforting and easy about having a computer mouse at the ready.

Many companies, like Logitech, are coming out with new, innovative mouse pads, such as the G840 XL Gaming Mouse Pad. This giant mouse pad fits your keyboard, mouse, tablet, and anything else with ease. It’s the perfect desktop accessory for multitaskers everywhere!

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/10/26/16542630/logitech-g840-xl-gaming-mouse-mat

Overall, mouse pads are still valuable in the digital age. Get creative and find one with a unique, eye-catching look.

The Bottom Line

There are many questions about the origins of the mouse pad, but now you know some of the mysteries. Put this knowledge to good use, whether it’s impressing your co-workers or at your next trivia night!

References

Hughes, N. (2013, July 4). Inventor of the Computer Mouse Dies at 88. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://appleinsider.com/articles/13/07/04/inventor-of-the-computer-mouse-dies-at-88

512 Pixels. (2012, November 27). Apple’s Mouse: A History. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://512pixels.net/2012/11/mouse/

Finley, K. (2010, December 9). 50 Years Later, We Still Don’t Grasp the Mother of All Demos. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://www.wired.com/story/50-years-later-we-still-dont-grasp-the-mother-of-all-demos/?verso=true

Smith, E. (2016, July 12). The Best Mouse Pads Money Could Buy. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://tedium.co/2016/07/12/mouse-pads-invention-history

Weekly Geekly. (2019). Mousepad. Who and When Invented It? Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://weekly-geekly.github.io/articles/396515/index.html

Gallerneaux, K. (2019). Mother of Invention. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://www.hermanmiller.com/stories/why-magazine/mother-of-invention/

Pescatore, B. (2007, June 1). A Slew of Swag: One Donor’s $75 Mouse Pad is Another Donor’s Treasure.
Retrieved August 28, 2019, from Campaigns & Elections, Political World Communications, LLC: Washington D.C.

Savov, V. (2017, October 26). Logitech’s Enormous Mouse Pad is Enormously Useful. Retrieved August 28, 2019, from
https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/10/26/16542630/logitech-g840-xl-gaming-mouse-mat

Smith, E. (2016, July 12). The Best Mouse Pads Money Could Buy. Retrieved August 27, 2019, from
https://tedium.co/2016/07/12/mouse-pads-invention-history

Open Secrets. (2019). John McCain Top Contributors, 2008 Cycle. Retrieved August 28, 2019, from
https://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/contrib.php?cid=N00006424&cycle=2008

Swenson, L. (2019). Difference Between Hard & Soft Mouse Pads. Retrieved August 28, 2019, from
https://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-hard-soft-mouse-pads-39237.html

Colvin Friedman. (2019). The History of Die Cutting. Retrieved August 29, 2019, from
https://www.colvin-friedman.com/the-history-of-die-cutting.html

Snedden, R. (2010). Who Invented the Computer? Retrieved September 3, 2019, from Arcturus Publishing: Minnesota, MN.

BBC News. (2020, August 3). Bill English: Computer Mouse Co-Creator Dies at 91. Retrieved from, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53638033

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.