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Trackball - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. A trackball is a pointing device consisting of a ball held by a socket containing sensors to detect a rotation of the ball about two axesвЂ”like an upside- down mouse with an exposed protruding ball. The user rolls the ball with the thumb, fingers, or the palm of the hand to move a pointer. Compared with a mouse, a trackball has no limits on effective travel; at times, a mouse can reach an edge of its working area while the operator still wishes to move the screen pointer farther. With a trackball, the operator just continues rolling, whereas a mouse would have to be lifted and re- positioned.
Some trackballs have notably low friction, as well as being made of dense material such as glass, so they can be spun to make them coast. The trackball's buttons may be situated to that of a mouse or to a unique style that suits the user. Large trackballs are common on CAD workstations for easy precision. Before the advent of the touchpad, small trackballs were common on portable computers, where there may be no desk space on which to run a mouse.
Some small thumbballs clip onto the side of the keyboard and have integral buttons with the same function as mouse buttons. HistoryThe trackball was invented as part of a post- World War II- era radar plotting system named Comprehensive Display System (CDS) by Ralph Benjamin when working for the British Royal Navy Scientific Service. Benjamin's project used analog computers to calculate the future position of target aircraft based on several initial input points provided by a user with a joystick. Benjamin felt that a more elegant input device was needed and invented a ball tracker system called the roller ball for this purpose in 1. The device was patented in 1. The trackball was first built by Tom Cranston, Fred Longstaff and Kenyon Taylor as part of the Royal Canadian Navy's. DATAR system in 1. DATAR was similar in concept to Benjamin's display, but used a digital computer to calculate tracks, and sent the resulting data to other ships in a task force using pulse- code modulation radio signals.
This trackball used a Canadian five- pin bowling ball. DATAR's trackball used four disks to pick up motion, two each for the X and Y directions. Several rollers provided mechanical support.
When the ball was rolled, the pickup discs spun and contacts on their outer rim made periodic contact with wires, producing pulses of output with each movement of the ball. By counting the pulses, the physical movement of the ball could be determined. Since 1. 96. 6, the American company Orbit Instrument Corporation produced a device named X- Y Ball Tracker, a trackball, which was embedded into radar flight control desks.A similar trackball device at the German Bundesanstalt f. Гјr Flugsicherung (de) was constructed by a team around Rainer Mallebrein of Telefunken Konstanz as part of the development for the Telefunken computer infrastructure around the main frame TR 4. TR 8. 6 and video terminal SIG 1. This trackball was called Rollkugel (German for "rolling ball").
Somewhat later, the idea of "reversing" this device led to the introduction of the first computer ball mouse (still named Rollkugel, model RKS 1. Telefunken's computer systems since 1. In later trackball models the electrical contacts were replaced by a "chopper wheel" which had small slots cut into it in the same locations as the contacts.
An LED shone light through the slots to an optical sensor, As the disk rotated the slots alternately lined up and then blocked the light from the LED, causing pulses to be produced in the sensor. The operation was otherwise similar. Mice used the same basic system for determining motion, but had the problem that the ball was in contact with the desk or mousepad. In order to provide smooth motion the balls were often covered with an anti- slip surface treatment, which was, by design, sticky.
Rolling the mouse tended to pick up any dirt and drag it into the system where it would clog the chopper wheels, demanding cleanup. In contrast the trackball is in contact only with the user's hand, which tends to be cleaner. The late 1. 99. 0s replacement of mouseballs by direct optical tracking put trackballs at a disadvantage and forced them to retreat into niches where their distinctive merits remained more important. Most trackballs now have direct optical tracking which follows dots on the ball. As with modern mice, most trackballs now have an auxiliary device primarily intended for scrolling. Some have a scroll wheel like most mice, but the most common type is a вЂњscroll ringвЂќ which is spun around the ball.
Kensington's Slim. Blade Trackball similarly tracks the ball itself in three dimensions for scrolling. As of 2. 01. 3[update] two major companies produce consumer trackballs, Logitech and Kensington, although Logitech has narrowed its product line to two models. Other smaller companies occasionally offer a trackball in their product line.
Microsoft produced popular models including The Microsoft Trackball Explorer, but has since discontinued all of its products. Special applicationsLarge trackballs are sometimes seen on computerized special- purpose workstations, such as the radar consoles in an air- traffic control room or sonar equipment on a ship or submarine. Modern installations of such equipment may use mice instead, since most people now already know how to use one. However, military mobile anti- aircraft radars, commercial airliners (such as Airbus A3. Large and well made ones allow easier high precision work, for which reason they may still be used in these applications (where they are often called "tracker balls") and in computer- aided design. Trackballs have appeared in computer and video games, particularly early arcade games (see a List of trackball arcade games) notably Atari's Centipede and Missile Command вЂ“ though Atari spelled it "trak- ball".
Football, by Atari, released in 1. The Ultimate History of Video Games by Steven L.
Kent the designer of Football, Dave Stubben, claims they copied the design from a Japanese soccer game by Taito. Console trackballs, now fairly rare, were common in the early 1. Atari 2. 60. 0 and 5. Coleco. Vision console, though using a joystick as their standard controller, each had one as an optional peripheral. The Apple Pippin, a console introduced in 1.
Trackballs were occasionally used in e- sports prior to the mainstreaming of optical mice in the early 2. A trackball requires no mousepad and enables the player to aim swiftly (in first person shooters). Trackballs remain in use in pub golf machines (such as Golden Tee) to simulate swinging the club. Computer gamers have been able to successfully use trackballs in most modern computer games, including FPS, RPG, and RTS genres, with any slight loss of speed compensated for with an increase in precision.
Many trackball gamers are competent at "throwing" their cursor rapidly across the screen, by spinning the trackball, enabling (with practice) much faster motion than can be achieved with a ball- less mouse and arm motion. However, many gamers are deterred by the time it takes to 'get used to' the different style of hand control that a trackball requires. Trackballs have also been regarded as excellent complements to analog joysticks, as pioneered by the Assassin 3. D 1. 99. 6 trackball with joystick pass- through capability. This combination provides for two- hand aiming and a high accuracy and consistency replacement for the traditional mouse and keyboard combo generally used on first- person shooter games. Many such games natively support joysticks and analog player movement, like Valve's Half- Life and id Software's Quake series.
Trackballs are provided as the pointing device in some public internet access terminals. Unlike a mouse, a trackball can easily be built into a console, and cannot be ripped away or easily vandalised. Two examples are the Internet browsing consoles provided in some UK Mc. Donald's outlets, and the BT Broadband Internet public phone boxes. This simplicity and ruggedness also makes them ideal for use in industrial computers. Because trackballs for personal computers are stationary, they may require less space for operation than a mouse, and may simplify use in confined or cluttered areas such as a small desk or a rack- mounted terminal. They are generally preferred in laboratory setting for the same reason.
An advantage of the trackball is that it takes less space to move than mouse. A trackball was often included in laptop computers, but since the late 1. Track balls can still be used as separate input devices with standard desktop computers but this application is also moving to trackpads due to the prevalence of multi touch gesture control in new desktop operating systems.ErgonomicsPeople with a mobility impairment use trackballs as an assistive technology input device. Access to an alternative pointing device has become even more important for them with the dominance of graphically- oriented operating systems.
There are many alternative systems to be considered. The control surface of a trackball is easier to manipulate and the buttons can be activated without affecting the pointer position.[dubiousвЂ“ discuss]Trackball users also often state that they are not limited to using the device on a flat desk surface. Trackballs can be used whilst browsing a laptop in bed, or wirelessly from an armchair to a PC playing a movie. They are also useful for computing on boats or other unstable platforms where a rolling deck could produce undesirable input. Trackballs are generally either thumb- operated, with a ball about an inch in diameter or smaller moved by one digit (almost always the thumb) and the buttons clicked by others, or finger- operated, with a ball over two inches in diameter operated by the middle fingers and the buttons by the thumb and little finger.