Ethan Zuckerman's Computer Mouse


Ethan Zuckerman


Computer Mouse


Negates popups, offers advice




Connection to computer

Collected by

Warehouse 13



Date of Collection




Ethan Zuckerman is an American media scholar, blogger, and Internet activist. He is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media and Associate Professor of the Practice in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT.

Zuckerman was one of the first staff members of, one of the first successful "dot com" enterprises, where he worked from 1994 to 1999. There, he was in charge of the design and the implementation of the website which, at that time, marketed content and services to recent college graduates. The business model of this website was exclusively based on advertising. After one of the website's major advertisers complained that one of their banner advertisements had appeared on a page with disagreeable content, Zuckerman imagined a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page.

His solution was to open a new dedicated window with only the ad in it. Thus the popup ad was born. While he claims having only written the code to open a new window, since then, he is considered as the inventor of the pop-up ad. Zuckerman later apologized for the unforeseen nuisance pop-up ads had evolved into.


When connected to a computer with a working internet connection the mouse acts as an ad-blocker of sorts, neutralizing popups and whatever content they contained. Instead of the intended ad, the window will appear with an apology for the disturbance and will promptly close itself after a few seconds.

Due to the age of the artifact, all popups appear in a style reminiscent of early Macintosh computers. Occasionally the popup may also give advice relating to the proper running or care of the system it's attached to, such as optimization tips and virus warnings. Some degree of sentience is suspected, as messages are sometimes personalized to refer to frequent users or in relation to the content being browsed.

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