Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 95 / APRIL 1988 / PAGE 43

Readers Feedback


If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions you would like to see addressed in this column, write to "Readers' Feedback," COMPUTE!, P.O. Box 5406, Greensboro, NC 27403. Due to the volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot provide personal answers to technical questions.

IBM Mouse And Joystick

I have a Leading Edge computer with two disk drives, 640K of memory, a modem, and an RGB monitor. I want to buy a mouse and a joystick for my computer, but I'm not sure what this involves. What are some of the things I need to consider before I buy?

Marion C. Bass

Nothing can enhance the PC's user interface more than a mouse, but there are certain things you should know about before buying a mouse for your PC.

For a mouse to be really useful, you'll need software that fully supports it. Although there is relatively little software available now that allows mouse input, more and more is released every day. And since the mouse is such a powerful computing aid, it won't be long before most software packages support the device.

Microsoft Corporation took an early promouse stand by both manufacturing a mouse itself and supporting the mouse in its software. Now, most Microsoft PC products offer full mouse support with other manufacturers following Microsoft's lead.

Another consideration depends on your computer's hardware. There are two types of PC mice: serial and bus. The serial mouse simply connects to one of your computer's serial ports—the same type of port your modem uses. The bus mouse has a card that goes in an empty slot inside your machine, and the mouse connects to this card. If you've got an extra serial port, then the serial mouse is the easiest to install. If you don't have a free serial port, you'll have to use one of your empty slots for a bus mouse's card.

The last consideration is the software that comes with the mouse itself. Mice require a special mouse driver program which you either specify in your CONFIG.SYS file or load as a TSR (Terminate-and-Stay-Resident) program. (Most mouse packages will have both kinds of drivers.) First, the driver should be Microsoft compatible. Second, the supplied software should allow you to construct menus—or mouse shells—that allow you to use the mouse with programs that don't support the mouse themselves. A mouse shell usually doesn't make a program as easy to use as one that supports the mouse internally, but it still can offer an improvement over a keyboard-driven, nonmouse interface.

Things are simpler with a joystick. First, you'll need a joystick that is intended especially for the PC. In addition, you'll need a game controller. Game controllers usually come with other options—parallel or serial ports—on a multifunction card that goes in a slot inside your PC. Your system may already have one. Check your manual.