Modern Mice On Old Computers

Getting retro hardware up and running again is sometimes a feat, and the amount of effort needed tends to go up exponentially with increased hardware age. Getting an IDE hard drive running again is one thing, but things like peripherals on truly “retro” computers like Commodores and Amigas is another beast altogether if you even have a 30-year-old mouse still lying around. That’s why adapters like Project mouSTer are here to help you connect modern USB hardware to truly ancient computers.

This piece of equipment was built for the Atari ST (hence the name), a 8-bit  computer from the mid-80s. It mates a DB9 plug with USB via a small microcontroller which does the translating. The firmware can be flashed over the USB connection so there’s planned support for other machines of this vintage. The chip supports all the features the original mouse did, too, including PS4 pad support and support for joysticks, and comes in an impressively tiny package once assembled which blends in seamlessly.

The project is a great step to getting retro computers working again, even if you can’t find exact OEM replacements anymore. That’s a common problem, and we’ve seen this solved in other ways for other old Ataris. It’s not uncommon to put modern power supplies in retro computers, either, as long as they power up and work after everything’s wired together.

23 thoughts on “Modern Mice On Old Computers

  1. Obviously *someone* has to say that the Atari ST was a 16 bit computer, and that Amigas were made by Commodore, and the original mouse didn’t have PS4 controller support.

  2. You might want to correct the line ‘This piece of equipment was built for the Atari ST (hence the name), an 8-bit computer from the mid-80s.’ – the ST is a 16/32 bit computer (hence the name). This adapter is designed to also work with some earlier 8-bit Atari computers though.

  3. “ut things like peripherals on truly “retro” computers like Commodores and Amigas is another beast altogether if you even have a 30-year-old mouse still lying around.”

    Actually, old PC mice, the ones with a ball, are really easy to convert to Atari/Amiga. Just remove the serial connection wires, find out where the quadrature signals and the button signals in the mouse are, and resolder the wires directly to those signals (and to gnd and 5V).

    If you’re most unlucky, then there are not enough leads in the mouse’s cable, and you’ll have to find another cable with enough leads inside. But that’s about all that can go wrong.

      1. Many of them certainly – but not all ball mice are bad really. They just accumulate crap and need cleaning often.
        That said I’d not want to go back to ball mouse – old style trackball maybe – the really massive balls they have mean they are pretty tolerant of gunk – got one that Dad bought to let toddler me use his PC and its not as smooth as an expensive modern trackball but its still really useable after decades of use and storage (and no cleaning yet).
        Where even the nicest ball mouse we kept for years as a spare would need cleaning out weekly at best. Did feel nice to use when it was freshly cleaned though, heavy and large enough to really feel good in the hand.

      2. “yeah but c’mon, ball mouses are aweful.”

        Completely true, couldn’t agree more. But isn’t it also part of the 80’s/90’s charm? :D

        (personally I’m very happy with the progress we made with computer mice since then. :P)

      1. As I recall, the quadrature was decoded in opposing directions. So, what AmigaOS interprets as the mouse going up would cause the Atari ST pointer to move down, etc. This is why most mice had an Atari ST/Amiga switch on them. Otherwise, yes, they’re electrically compatible.

  4. Is this an advert? It’s not open source, they give zero details of what parts it uses, no schematics or code… Seems to just be a commercial product.

    Paid article?

    1. I agree, this is a stupid article. If this thing was OpenSource, ok, really interesting, but it isn’t, 0 details available, so this is basically an advert. If i want adverts i just switch on my TV (ok, i don’t have one), on HaD i expect something with real content (=schematics, code, all the details).

  5. Reminds me, anything that does active USB to PS/2 conversion??

    I know of those cheap adapters of yore, but they relied on the HID having a multi mode controller, and some specific KVM switches can do it too.

    But alas, my personal experience is the KVM’s do that poorly or are so stupid expensive that you’d think they’re Apple branded.

  6. I’m just pleased to see someone using an actual ruler for scale instead of a coin (different countries might not know the size) or a banana….. which is just plain stupid

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