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Your Desktop Cursor is Diagonal for a Reason.



/ 2 years ago

mouse cursor diagonal

Ever sat there in front of your desktop and just wondered why exactly your mouse cursor is tilted at an angle – and not just a vertical line? Logically – it’d seem fit that a vertical pointer would be more accurate and precise for selecting text, dragging, clicking and the like. However Douglas Engelbart – inventor of the virtual mouse cursor in 1968 – had an extremely good reasoning behind the diagonal graphic for your pointer.

Over 31 years ago when the team at Xerox set out to create the first graphical user interface (GUI) – monitors didn’t look anywhere near as sharp as they do today. Because of this, it was practically impossible to design a mouse cursor that was vertical in stature and easily visible due to the low resolution used on the systems display. Because of this, Engelbart opted to design a pointer that was tilted on a 45-degree angle, in order to drastically improve visibility and accuracy when operating with the systems graphical interface. It’s been over 33 years since the design choice by the team at Xerox – but the 45-degree tilted mouse cursor still stands strong to this day within desktop computing.

Image courtesy of 9to5Mac.

Thanks to 9to5Mac for providing us with this information.


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  • blockofdynamite

    Even with the cursor tilted diagonally there are some times when it is super hard to locate the pointer since it blends in with every element in any window ever.

    • Aleksandar Naydenov

      There are mouse option “Show location of pointer when press CTRL key” for those cases.
      For everything else there’s MasterCard.

  • staticfx

    Xerox also invented the mouse… but never patented it! big mistake!

    • Rob Breckles

      A Xerox system was the first to use the mouse but it was’n’t invented by them. Engelbart invented it at the SRI

      • staticfx

        thought that was not the “ball” version that was developed at Xerox?

  • NotTheOtherPony

    I run a three-monitor desktop, each 1920×1080. It’s easy to lose the cursor in all that space. That “Show location of pointer when press CTRL key” trick a life saver!

    • Rob Breckles

      I’m running the same but I can’t say I’ve found it to be a problem. I might try the ‘show location’ thingy out and see if it makes a difference. Might be one of those “why of earth didnt i use this before” scenarios 🙂

      • NotTheOtherPony

        Finding the standard arrow cursor is easy. If you’re painting with a very small brush in Photoshop, your cursor becomes a tiny crosshair that is very easy to lose…