A trackball is a pointing device consisting of a ball housed in a socket containing sensors to detect rotation of the ball about two axes—like an upside-down mouse with an exposed protruding ball. Logitech International SA ( SWX: LOGN,) headquartered in Romanel-sur-Morges, Switzerland, is the Holding company for Logitech A pointing device is an Input interface (specifically a Human interface device) that allows a user to input spatial (ie continuous and multi-dimensional data BALL ( Biochemical Algorithms Library) is a C++ library containing common algorithms used in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics. In Computing, a mouse (plural mice, mouse devices, or mouses) The user rolls the ball with the thumb, fingers, or the palm of the hand to move a cursor. The thumb is the medial -most digit of the hand The English adjective for thumb is pollical A finger is a type of digit, an organ of manipulation and sensation found in the Hands of Humans and other Primates Normally humans have five digits The hands ( med / lat: manus pl manūs are the two intricate prehensile multi- Fingered body parts normally located at the end of each arm of a In computing a cursor is an indicator used to show the position on a Computer monitor or other Display device that will respond to input from a text input or Large tracker balls 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. A touchpad (also trackpad) is a Pointing device consisting of specialized surface that can translate the motion and position A laptop computer, also known as a notebook computer, is a small Personal computer designed for mobile use. Some small thumbballs clip onto the side of the keyboard and have integral buttons with the same function as mouse buttons. In Computing, a keyboard is an Input device partially modelled after the typewriter keyboard which uses an arrangement of buttons or keys The trackball was invented by Tom Cranston and Fred Longstaff as part of the Royal Canadian Navy's DATAR system in 1952, eleven years before the mouse was invented. For the history of Canada's naval forces after 1968 see Canadian Forces Maritime Command The Royal Canadian Navy ( RCN) was the DATAR, short for Digital Automated Tracking and Resolving, was a pioneering computerized battlefield information system This first trackball used a Canadian five-pin bowling ball. Five-pin bowling is a Bowling variant which is only played in Canada, where most bowling alleys offer it either alone or in combination with Ten-pin bowling
When mice and trackballs still had copper wheels, trackballs had the advantage of being in contact with the user's hand, which is generally cleaner than the desk or mousepad and doesn't drag lint into the copper wheels. The late 1990s advent of scroll wheels, and the replacement of mouseballs by direct optical tracking, put trackballs at a disadvantage and forced them to retreat into niches where their distinctive merits remained important. A scroll wheel (or mouse wheel) is a hard Plastic or Rubbery disc (the " Wheel " on a Computer mouse that is perpendicular Most trackballs now have direct optical tracking which follows dots on the ball. Some mice, in place of a scroll wheel, acquired a small trackball between the buttons, useful in maps and other circumstances calling for scrolling in two dimensions.
Large tracker balls are sometimes seen on computerised special-purpose workstations, such as the radar consoles in an air-traffic control room or sonar equipment on a ship or submarine. Air traffic control ( ATC) is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct Aircraft on the ground and in the air Sonar (which started as an Acronym for sound navigation and ranging) is a technique that uses Sound propagation (usually underwater to navigate 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 and submarine sonars tend to continue using trackballs, since they can be made more durable and more fit for fast emergency use. Large and well made ones allow easier high precision work, for which reason they are still 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. A video game is a Game that involves interaction with a User interface to generate visual feedback on a video device. An arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in businesses such as Restaurants Pubs Video arcades and Family Entertainment This is a list of Arcade games that have used a Trackball to interact with the game Centipede is a vertically-oriented Shoot 'em up Arcade game produced by Atari in 1980 Missile Command is a 1980 Arcade game by Atari Inc that was also licensed to Sega for European release "Football", by Atari, was the first arcade game to use a trackball, released in 1978 - though Atari spells it "trak-ball". Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. Year 1978 ( MCMLXXVIII) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link displays the 1978 Gregorian calendar) Console trackballs, once common in the early 1980s, are now fairly uncommon: the Atari 2600 and 5200 consoles had one as an optional peripheral, with a joystick as standard. The Atari 2600 is a Video game console released in October 1977 The Atari 5200 SuperSystem, or simply the Atari 5200, is a Video game console that was introduced in 1982 by Atari Inc For an account of the words periphery and peripheral as they are used in biology sociology politics computer hardware and other fields see the A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling The Bandai Atmark, a Japanese console introduced in 1995 had a trackball as standard for its gamepad. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Japan topics. A gamepad, also called joypad or control pad, is a type of Game controller held in the hand where the digits (especially thumbs are used to provide input Trackballs are also preferred by many so-called professional gamers, who value their consistency highly. 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. Golden Tee Golf (also known as Golden Tee) is a Golf Arcade game series by Incredible Technologies.
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 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 3D 1996 trackball with joystick pass-through capability. A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling The Assassin 3D (A3D by First-Person Gaming is a Trackball designed to be used simultaneously with a Joystick 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. A first-person shooter ( FPS) is an action Video game from the Shooter game The initial development of Maze War Many such games natively support joysticks and analog player movement, like Valve's Half-Life and id Software's Quake series. Quake is a First-person shooter Computer game that was released by Id Software on June 22, 1996.
Trackballs are provided as the pointing device in some public internet access terminals. The Internet is a global system of interconnected Computer networks 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 McDonalds outlets, and the BT Broadband Internet public phone boxes. BT Group plc (formerly British Telecommunications plc) which trades as BT (ˌbiːˈtiː bee tee) (previously known as British Telecom and still A telephone booth, telephone kiosk, (or telephone box in the British Isles) is a small structure furnished with a Payphone and designed
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. In Computing, a mouse (plural mice, mouse devices, or mouses)
People with a mobility impairment use trackballs as an assistive technology input device. Logitech International SA ( SWX: LOGN,) headquartered in Romanel-sur-Morges, Switzerland, is the Holding company for Logitech Assistive technology (AT is a generic term that includes assistive adaptive and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting 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. 
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.
Trackballs are generally either symmetrical in design, with the ball operated by the fingers, or asymmetrical, with the ball operated by the thumb. Many users favour one format or another, for reasons of comfort, precision, or because it reduces strain on one part of the hand/wrist. Only the symmetric format can be used by both hands. Asymmetric or "handed" trackballs are not generally available in left-handed configurations, due to small demand.
Some computer users prefer a trackball over the more common mouse for ergonomic reasons. There doesn't seem to be conclusive evidence of one being better than the other in terms of comfort. Users are encouraged to test different devices, and to maintain proper posture and scheduled breaks for comfort. Some disabled users find trackballs easier since they only have to move their thumb relative to their hand, instead of moving the whole hand, while others incur unacceptable fatigue of the thumb. Elderly people sometimes have difficulty holding a mouse still while double-clicking; the trackball allows them to let go of the cursor while using the button. A double-click is the act of pressing a Computer mouse button twice quickly without moving the mouse
At times when a user is browsing menus or websites rather than typing, it is also possible to hold a trackball in the right hand like a television remote control, operating the ball with the right thumb and pressing the buttons with the left thumb, thus giving the fingers a rest. 
Some mobile phones, such as the T-Mobile Sidekick 3, BlackBerry Pearl and Curve, now feature trackballs. The Danger Hiptop, also sold as the T-Mobile Sidekick, is a GPRS / EDGE Mobile phone with wireless Internet capabilities and all functionality The BlackBerry Pearl (8100 / 8110 / 8120 / 8130 / 8220 is a Mobile phone developed by Research In Motion, and the first BlackBerry device with a camera The BlackBerry Curve is a Mobile phone developed by Research In Motion. These miniature trackballs are made very small to fit within the thickness of a mobile device, and are controlled by the tip of a finger or thumb.
This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL. The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing ( FOLDOC) is an online searchable encyclopedic Dictionary of Computing subjects The GNU Free Documentation License ( GNU FDL or simply GFDL) is a Copyleft License for free documentation designed by the Free Software