Stephen Hackett has written a nice overview of the various mice Apple has produced from 1983 on.
The only part I disagree with is about the ‘hockey puck’ USB mouse (Model M4848) Apple introduced in 1998 with the first iMac G3. Hackett inserts his curt comment in the photo:
The translucent plastic housed a circuit board and two tone rollerball that could be seen easily. However, the perfectly round body often led to mistakes, as users would assume the mouse was in the correct orientation, even if it wasn’t. Apple later added a dimple to the mouse’s body to help users feel which direction the mouse was pointing.
Besides the shape, users also complained that the cable was too short on the USB mouse. Originally designed to be plugged in to the side of Apple’s new USB keyboard, notebook users found out the hard way that the cable was simply not long enough.
Mercifully, Apple put the USB Mouse and the company’s customer base out of their misery just two years later.
My experience with this mouse is entirely different. I’ve used it on a daily basis from 1999 to 2003 with my blueberry slot-loading iMac G3 and it was my mouse of choice when I used my PowerBooks in desktop configuration up until 2008, and I’ve never had a problem with it. As I wrote back in January 2008 in a piece called A brief retrospective on failures:
I don’t quite understand the general bashing (perhaps it’s nicknamed ‘hockey puck’ not for its shape, but after all the bashing). Perhaps it’s just me and my slim, long-fingered hands, but I’ve been using one for 9 years without a problem. It has to be handled slightly differently than a more elongated mouse (like the Apple Pro Optical Mouse or the Mighty Mouse, for example), and you can’t expect to be resting your hand on it. The way I hold it (putting my thumb and little finger at either side of it and using the forefinger and the middle finger to press the button) has made it the most comfortable mouse I’ve ever had, believe it or not. Before using that mouse I frequently ended my day with an aching wrist – that issue disappeared after using the round mouse. In conclusion, I don’t know and I can’t say whether the round mouse has been a huge fiasco or not. On a strictly personal level, it has not. That’s why I thought I’d mention my positive experience with that mouse – a voice out of the bashing chorus.
It may sound odd, but my best experiences with Apple mice have come from using two of the most ‘difficult’ and criticised models, the USB round mouse and the Magic Mouse. They’re both mice on which you can’t just rest your hand, and they somehow force your hand to handle them more actively. Perhaps it’s this aspect that prevented me from suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Other mice I’ve used — like the Mighty Mouse and other non-Apple mice back in the 1990s — put indeed my hand at rest, but also transferred the strain to the wrist. Both the ‘hockey puck’ mouse and the Magic Mouse, in my experience, present an acceptable tradeoff: your hand can’t rest comfortably on them all the time, but there’s no strain or stress transferred to the wrist. At the end of a 15-hour day using a mouse, it makes a lot of difference.