Not all the innovative products that we use have been preplanned. Even Apple’s Magic Mouse, the world’s first multi-touch mouse, seems to have been created by accident, according to a former employee that was close to the matter.
Considering that even some songs and scientific breakthroughs came about by chance, it shouldn’t surprise us so much that a butonless, multi-touch mouse was created accidentally. Still, many thought that Apple’s Magic Mouse was the result of years of R&D. After 15 years since the mouse’s design was presented to Steve Jobs and 5 years since its launch, Abraham Farag, the former Apple Senior Mechanical of Product Design, admitted in an interview with CultofMac.com that the Magic Mouse was just a happy accident, and nothing really planned ahead.
Farag recalls that “It all started with a model we did not have time to finish. We had made six of these great form models to show Steve. They were fully done, with all the parting lines cut in for buttons and different plastic parts, and all the colors just right.” Besides these, the design team also designed a mouse that was meant to resemble the Topolino model that was sold prior to the one that looked just like a hockey puck.
The former Apple engineer explained that the prototype “looked like a gray blob. We were going to put that model into a box so people wouldn’t see it.” To everyone’s surprise, Steve Jobs didn’t like the five finished models, considering that they don’t bring anything revolutionary to the table. Instead, “Steve looked at the lineup of potential forms and made straight for the unfinished one,” as Farag stated. “That’s genius. We don’t want to have any buttons,” Jobs said, according to Farag.
“[Afterwards], Bart Andre, Brian Huppi and I left the room and huddled outside with each other, [saying] ‘how are we going to do that?’ Because of that unfinished model we had to invent a way to make a mouse with no buttons,” Farag recalls.
Call me skeptical, but it’s pretty easy to put words in someone’s mouth, especially when he is no longer among us. When the Magic Mouse was launched, Jobs was still alive, and I don’t think that anything could hit the market without being previously presented to him, but having him seem supernaturally innovative is a bit far-fetched. Yes, the Magic Mouse shares the simple design of modern Apple products, but I have some doubts about it being made by accident.
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