Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interlink SuperMouse

Perusing the junk I don’t need at our local Goodwill I spied this odd mouse.
Being a sucker for vintage computing peripherals I had to buy it ($2.99)
It has two buttons and a pad that seems to function as a joystick.
I began my investigation by unscrewing the bottom.
Which yielded nothing except a rusty weight attached to the bottom plate.
Then I discovered that the mouse was a two piece unit! It just snaps off the base. Note the two channels for the cord in the base, allowing you to orient it with the buttons at the top or bottom.
It’s an Interlink Electronics SuperMouse. There isn’t a whole lot of information available on the internet about this mouse. I found the CDW page that shows it as being discontinued as of Friday, May 16, 2003. Scrolling down, the page has a tiny bit of detail:

On your desk, on the go, in your hand, three mice in one
SuperMouse is a mouse for today's computing realities--long hours on crowded desktops and quick setups on cramped tray tables. Its desktop cradle fits comfortably under your hand, positioning your fingers for hours of effortless pointing with none of the repetitive wrist motion common to desktop mice and trackballs. SuperMouse is also versatile. Use it at your desk, or pop the portable unit out of the cradle and take it on the road with your notebook computer. It can even be used a a hand-held pointing device. SuperMouse is one tough mouse. It has no rolling parts or mechanical assemblies to gum up or wear out and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
OS Compatibility: Windows 3.1, 95, 98
Keyboard and mouse options
Connector : Serial or PS/2
Ergonomic : Yes
Mouse scrolling device : None
Mouse type : Mouse
Number of buttons : 2-button
Number of keys : 0
Wireless : No
Warranty Information
Warranty Terms: Limited lifetime warranty

I pried the rubber pads off of the bottom and found two screws that hold the unit together. As you can see, it’s fairly simple.
Those two posts actuate little clicky switches on the PCB. The rubber pad bears against the central pointing unit.
The rubber pad does not make electrical contact with the PCB. I'm not sure whether it functions as a simple switch or as I think is more likely is a pressure sensitive device. There are a number of patents referenced on later Interlink products that seem to hint at that, especially the one for a Force Sensing Pointing Device. But I don't know for sure. If you are insane you can look at patents#: 6084572, 4489302, 5296837, 5302936, 5659334, 5828363.

Notice the traces are labelled E,S,W,N and if you follow the traces you can see how each one covers a triangular field overlapping with the adjacent ones.
The underside of the PCB has the connection for the serial cable, resistors, capacitors and a couple of chips.
I assume this is the one that does the grunt work.
I hooked it up to one of my old PCs and found it worked but was somewhat unresponsive. You can scroll up/down/right/left easily but diagonal scrolling was slow. Of course I didn’t have the proper driver and Windows XP just identified it as a generic device. So it’s hard to say how well it worked on a machine running Windows 98 and what extra features the software enabled. In any case a neat little vintage peripheral.

1 comment:

kennethsan@aol.com said...

I've been using these for many years, placing it just on my side of the keyboard spacebar, using velcro. I work it with thumb pressure and adjust Windows mouse speed to suit. It lets me keep both hands on the keyboard and still move the mouse pointer.
I have spares but always look for extras to buy since they eventually wear out and get erratic. Please let me know if you would like to sell or if you see any others. Thanks!