Browse Definitions :


What is a trackball?

A trackball is a computer cursor control device used in many laptop computer keyboards and older versions of computer mice.

The device comprises a ball held by a socket containing sensors to detect a rotation of the ball about two axes -- like an upside-down mouse with a ball in it.

When was the trackball invented?

The trackball was invented in 1952 by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff.

Early trackballs were mechanically complex and cumbersome, but since the 1980s trackballs have been largely replaced by optical mice.

How does a trackball work?

Image of a trackball
Example of trackball

The user rolls the ball with their thumb, fingers or the palm of their hand to move a cursor without moving their arm.

Some trackballs have textured rubber or metal surfaces to provide additional grip; others may have detachable covers.

Buttons on the top, bottom, front or back of the device enable the user to execute various commands, such as selecting an object or dragging and dropping it.

Why use a trackball?

One advantage of a trackball over a regular mouse is that it can be positioned away from the user's body on a desktop, requiring less space to operate.

Trackballs also do not require any moving parts on the surface on which they're used. This means there is no friction between the ball and the surface, which can be important for precise movements.

Some people also find trackballs more ergonomic than regular mice because they don't require the user to move their arm as much.

What are some disadvantages of a trackball?

One downside of a trackball is that it can take some time to get used to using one. Another potential issue is that the ball can become dirty or sticky over time, which can affect its performance.

Some trackballs also have limited compatibility with certain types of software and gaming applications.

See also: TrackPoint, touchpad, context menu, assistive technology

This was last updated in November 2022

Continue Reading About trackball

  • packet filtering

    Packet filtering is the process of passing or blocking data packets at a network interface by a firewall based on source and ...

  • WAN (wide area network)

    A wide area network (WAN) is a geographically distributed private telecommunications network that interconnects multiple local ...

  • network protocol

    A network protocol is a set of established rules that specify how to format, send and receive data so that computer network ...

  • Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)

    The Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) is a nonprofit organization that promotes research into best practices for securing cloud ...

  • quantum supremacy

    Quantum supremacy is the experimental demonstration of a quantum computer's dominance and advantage over classical computers by ...

  • antivirus software (antivirus program)

    Antivirus software (antivirus program) is a security program designed to prevent, detect, search and remove viruses and other ...

  • transaction

    In computing, a transaction is a set of related tasks treated as a single action.

  • lean management

    Lean management is an approach to managing an organization that supports the concept of continuous improvement, a long-term ...

  • device ID (device identification)

    A device ID (device identification) is an anonymous string of numbers and letters that uniquely identifies a mobile device such ...

  • talent pool

    A talent pool is a database of job candidates who have the potential to meet an organization's immediate and long-term needs.

  • diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)

    Diversity, equity and inclusion is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and ...

  • passive candidate

    A passive candidate (passive job candidate) is anyone in the workforce who is not actively looking for a job.

Customer Experience
  • product-qualified lead (PQL)

    A product-qualified lead (PQL) is an individual or business that experienced value from using a product as a result of a free ...

  • marketing-qualified lead (MQL)

    A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is a website visitor whose engagement levels indicate they are likely to become a customer.

  • customer success

    Customer success is a strategy to ensure a company's products are meeting the needs of the customer.