5150: Setting up Serial Mouse


I haven’t yet really found a good use for the mouse on the IBM PC 5150. Lemmings is so far about the best use that I have found, but at 4.77MHz even Lemmings runs a tad slow/sluggish to be enjoyable. SimCity essentially requires a mouse, but also runs much too slowly on the stock 5150 at 4.77MHz. I’ve yet to try if a V20 processor upgrade improved SimCity in a meaningful way.

Apple famously presented the use of the one-button mouse in 1984 with the Macintosh system (although the term mouse was used as early at 1968, see the “mother of all demos“). Microsoft Mouse 1.0 was also released in 1984, and the following year in 1985 Microsoft Mouse 5.0 came with a decent “paint” drawing program. The one-mouse button vs. two-mouse button design was a debate between these two systems from the very beginning.

The Apple ecosystem insisted on simplistic UI/UX (user interfaces) that could be performed with a single mouse click. In the early IBM PC “culture” there was a kind of preference for no mouse at all. That “culture” was command-line or keyboard-short-cut oriented. When the focus was on productivity (entering numbers, word processing, creating content), expert typist never wanted to take their hands away from the keyboard (doing so would interrupt the workflow).

There is a lot of rationale behind the Apple one-button mouse design philosophy (e.g. such as to simplify application development, simplify technical support procedures), but it is a rather “closed architecture” policy. Meanwhile, the “MS-DOS” culture could experiment with three or more mouse buttons, and eventually innovated the inclusion of the mouse-wheel in 1996. Still, the “keep my hands on the keyboard” philosophy dominated much of the IBM PC world, since the bus-mouse wasn’t standard and including mouse support had a development, memory, and runtime cost to applications. Gradually starting around 1988, with the PS/2, mouse support within applications eventually became standard (most especially with the release of Windows 3.0 in 1990).

  • A “bus mouse” will use an expansion card, such that the mouse input talks directly across the ISA bus. These were sort of early versions of what became the “PS/2” style mini-DIN connector years later.
  • If you only have one serial port, then a “serial mouse” and “serial joystick” and “serial modem” may all compete for that one serial port.
  • Most mouse drivers will find and support a serial mouse.

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