The speed of a computer mouse is measured in “mickeys,” named after Mickey Mouse

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Animal-based names are surprisingly common when it comes to units of measurement. In addition to horsepower (which usually measures the output of engines or motors) and hogsheads (today mostly used for alcohol), there’s also the mickey — a semi-official means of measuring the speed of a computer mouse. Named after a certain Disney character who’s probably the world’s most famous rodent, it’s specifically used to describe the smallest measurable movement the device can take. In real terms, that equals 1/200th of an inch, or 0.1 millimeter. Both the sensitivity (mickeys per inch) and speed (mickeys per second) of a computer mouse are measured this way by computer scientists.

Had the original name for the device stuck, it’s unlikely this measurement system would have come about. The mouse was briefly known as a “bug” when it was invented at the Stanford Research Institute to make computers more user-friendly, though that seems to have been a working title that no one was especially fond of. (That version of the device was also extremely primitive compared to the mice of today — it even had a wooden shell.) As for how the mouse got its current name, no one can quite remember, except that that’s what it looked like.

 

Media Release/ Interesting Facts

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