10 November 1972: CERN’s Bent Stumpe places an order for 12 bowling balls for a total cost of 95 US dollars. Although not evident at first sight, he is buying the heart of some of the first tracking devices to be used in the SPS control room. Today, Bent Stumpe’s device would be called a desktop mouse…
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Early? Sure. First? Not hardly. Douglas Engelbart’s first handheld mouse prototypes (with two perpendicular wheels on the bottom) predate this by nearly a decade…and the first trackballs (which also used bowling balls) were on the scene a full decade prior to that…1952!
Dunno if they’re still around anywhere, but about ten years ago there was a splendid bar game called “Hyperbowl” that used a bowling ball as the interface in trackball fashion. Really fun and tactile to play around with.