The original Microsoft Mouse – sometimes known as the “Green Eye” mouse, sometimes known as the “Green Buttons" mouse. Introduced in 1983, this is a classic, and a relic.
I collect things - an antique car or two, audio equipment from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, computer documents from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, some old books, and so on. And, I have a small collection of original Microsoft mice.
These mice came in two versions - a SERIAL version, and a BUS version.
The SERIAL version had a 25-pin connector, as pictured below:
You can quickly recognize why it was referred to as the “Green Eye” mouse. Notice the steel ball? It does add some weight to an already heavy mouse.
When I purchased several of the SERIAL version, I did not know if they worked still, after 30+ years. So, to satisfy my curiosity, I used a 25-pin to 9-pin adaptor and plugged the mouse into my Windows 7 test PC. Would this mouse still work, and be recognized under Windows 7? The answer is yes. The mouse was immediately recognized and the driver installed automatically. The mouse actually worked quite well. So, I tested all of the serial “Green Eyes” that I had. They all worked. Very nice, for a mouse that is 31-years old.
The other version of the Green Eye mouse was a BUS version, which had a 9-pin connector, and required a Microsoft BUS Mouse ISA card. Many of the sellers on auction sites mistakenly refer to this 9-pin connector as a serial connector, which it is not. This mouse will not work if connected to a serial port on your PC. Additionally, do not confuse this ISA card with the Microsoft InPort ISA card.
The BUS version had two different styles of the 9-pin connector:
How do I test these mice? Since I use only Intel motherboards, I needed one with an ISA slot. The last Intel motherboard that I recalled having an ISA slot was the SE440BX and BX2, from the late 1990s and used the SlotOne processors. No, I did not want to go back that far. Surely, there must be a more recent Intel motherboard that had an ISA slot.
I searched for a while, and eventually found a board from 2001/2002 that used the 845 chipset and a Pentium 4 processor. Finding and acquiring that board presented a challenge in itself. The board, for which there is almost no reference and documentation, is the Intel D845WR Desktop Board, which is another story for another time. Now that I had the board, could I install Windows 7 and test the BUS version with the ISA card?
Windows 7 installed perfectly on this board, with all drivers in the box. When I attempted to plug in the ISA card, I had to make certain that I had the interrupt jumper correctly set on the card. Remember having to set interrupt jumpers? I then connected the BUS mouse to the card, and booted the system. No errors were observed or recorded. However, the BUS mouse did not work. Attempts at adding legacy hardware were not successful. So, why did the mouse not work?
The answer to that can be found by looking at MSMouse.inf. By examining versions of MSMouse.inf from as many prior versions of Windows that I could find, I discovered that BUSMOUSE.SYS was last available in Windows NT Workstation 4.0, from 1996, for the 32-bit OS. But, what about Windows 16-bit, like Windows 98SE? I used another disk drive, and built a Windows 98SE system. When using Windows 7 on the D845WR, I had installed 2gb of memory, the maximum the board would support. Windows 98SE had no idea of how to deal with 2gb of memory, so I found myself having to set a value in SYSTEM.INI, again an adventure back in time to when installing the operating system was slightly more difficult and cumbersome than it is today. Other minor problems were found and solved, such as Windows 98SE not knowing what to do with the 250gb disk I had attached.
My Windows 98SE system then installed just as my Windows 7 system installed. Would the BUS mouse and ISA card work? Not a single problem! The 31-year old BUS mouse was quite content and performed perfectly, on a 31-year old ISA card, on a 12-year old motherboard, with a 16-year old operating system. Pretty amazing,
My goal with all of this was to determine if the mice worked. Having answered that question, I thought about trying to get the BUS mouse and ISA card working in Windows 7. While researching the MSMouse.inf, I discovered that Logitech also had a BUS mouse that could be used with the ISA card. I was going to look for a driver from Logitech, but decided against that project. My initial goal had been satisfied.
Having the original Microsoft SERIAL and BUS mice as a collectible is one thing. Knowing that they work is another. I suppose it only adds to the satisfaction of collecting such relics. Now, the mice go back in their boxes, and back on my shelf. It still leaves me with one question – how long will the SERIAL mouse work on future versions of Windows? I suppose the answer depends on how long SERMOUSE.SYS will be supported.
While researching these mice, I came across an advertisement from Microsoft:
I always find it interesting and entertaining to research antiques. I always learn something, or find myself remembering something forgotten long ago. Before I end this project, I discovered another interesting tidbit – do you recall what “The Mouse Unit of Distance” was called? The unit of distance is approximately 1/100th of an inch, and is called a “mickey”.