Mac Musings

Optical ADB Mouse Wanted, but Who Will Build It?

Dan Knight - 2006.08.03 - Tip Jar

We've been spoiled by optical mice for a long time in the world of USB, but those with older Macs that use ADB mice have been left out in the cold.

There have been a couple of adapters to allow use of ADB mice and keyboards on USB Macs, and there are USB PCI cards that make it possible to user modern USB mice, keyboards, printers, scanners, and the like with PCI Macs, but as far as I can tell, nobody has ever made the kind of optical mouse we use today available for Apple's Desktop Bus (ADB).

I'm wondering why that is. Was it just the small market that kept it from happening? After all, but the time optical was big, Macs were no longer being built with ADB ports.

Was it perhaps an issue with electronics? Maybe ADB doesn't supply enough power for an optical mouse, or maybe the electronics were less efficient in those days and everyone now considers the market too small.

An adapter to put a USB mouse on an ADB port just doesn't make sense because of the huge difference in data rate. GeeThree has a Stealth ADB adapter that lets you use a PS/2 mouse with your older Mac. And it only costs, um, US$25.

Well, that was apparently not popular enough to remain in production.


I'd love to hear from anyone familiar with ADB. Is there any technical reason that an optical mouse can't work on an ADB port?

And I'd love to hear from one or more mouse manufacturers who would be willing to tackle this challenge. If ADB doesn't provide sufficient power, perhaps one or two AAA cells or some other small 3V cell could do the job.

A two-button scroll mouse would be ideal, along with a nice long cord for those who keep their Power Macs on the floor (60" sound about right?). A plain two-button mouse would even be nice, and if worst comes to worst, a one-button optical mouse would at least give us something better than those aging ADB mice we're still using.

If we end up with a multibutton mouse, we'll definitely need drivers.

I'm prepared to order 500 optical ADB mice for resale and set up a Low End Mac online store to sell them.

Any takers? Please email Dan Knight .

UPDATE: There were two optical mice for ADB Macs. The earliest was by Mouse Systems and required a specially marked aluminum mouse pad. The other was a Wacom mouse that had to be used on a Wacom sketch tablet, if I recall correctly.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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