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Telefunken's "Rollkugel"

From Ralf Buelow in Germany comes information and photos of a pioneer mouse, quoted below.

In the 1960s the computer division of the Telefunken company developed a mouse, which was described (and pictured) in a company magazine in October 1968, i.e. a few weeks before Doug Engelbart's demo, where he presented his mouse to the public. The Telefunken device was, of course, not called "mouse" but "Rollkugel" (rolling ball), but it really was a mouse as it was moved over a table and displaced a cursor on a monitor. With the help of the "Rollkugel" it was possible to conduct simple vector graphic operations, like drawing polygons.

The "Rollkugel" was offered as an optional input instrument to Telefunken's SIG-100 monitor, which was connected to the big Telefunken TR 440 computer via a smaller TR 86 unit. (They didn't have graphic cards in West Germany in the late sixties.) Beginning in 1968, the TR 440 was installed at computing centers & universities, but we don't know exactly when the first "Rollkugel" was used. In any case, they are mentioned in 1972 in the annual report of a large Munich computing center, thus preceding the mice of Alto workstations at Xerox PARC and also those at Eighties computers like Xerox Star, Apple Lisa & Apple Macintosh.

For further information, contact Ralf Buelow [ralf.buelow(at)fh-kiel.de].

top of the Telefunken Rollkugel
©Computerschausammlung, FH Kiel Enlarge

The SIG-100 illustration in the October 1968 of the Telefunken company magazine with the Rollkugel "mouse" attached. Apparently the button was added later.

The Rollkugel sets the stage for round mouses like the Dépraz/Logitech, DEC, iMac and novelty mouses.

Top of the Telefunken Rollkugel
©Computermuseum, Stuttgart University Enlarge
A "Rollkugel" in the computer museum of Stuttgart university.

Hand position on the Telefunken Rollkugel
©Computermuseum, Stuttgart University Enlarge

Inside the Telefunken Rollkugel
©Computermuseum, Stuttgart University Enlarge