How to Use a Modern Mouse on an Ancient PC, or Vice Versa

Maybe you got bitten by a technical bug and became a Commodore Collector. Or you were cleaning the house of a loved one and found some old, heavy, square computer. Or you have your own super-old system that you want to work with. Be that as it may, retro systems bring a certain nostalgic joy. Problem? Making them work, especially if you don’t have the right old gear, can cause problems.

I was inspired by this post from Hackaday detailing a super useful adapter that allows you to use any USB mouse (or game controller) with a DB9 port, which should be pretty familiar to you if you’ve ever played with at least a gaming controller. the Atari console.

While the adapters do not appear to be on sale yet – “the plant closure due to COVID19 hasn’t helped at all ?,” the blog post says, “this project is worth bookmarking to see what’s going on with it. I love the adapter’s promise of nearly universal compatibility with any modern USB mouse or game controller (and just as importantly, all major retro systems).

And this is the biggest problem with such adapters. As far as I understand, making the connection is not the hardest part – right now you can buy a variety of DB9 / USB cables or adapters that can create a physical connection between your new hardware and your old systems. However, getting the old system to recognize the inputs of any connected USB device is not an easy task .

I should also mention that home brewing projects like this can be expensive, as you’ll see with this useful $ 37 adapter that lets you use an ancient Apple DB9 mouse with a modern system (via USB), or that $ 24 adapter. an adapter that can be used to use old game controllers with a modern PC. By the way, you also need to make sure that your adapter is working in the right direction – for example, this will allow you to plug your PS2 device into a DB9 port , instead of letting any PS2 accessory work over a USB connection.

Of course, you can also go the lazy way: buy some old hardware on eBay for $ 20 that is (presumably) guaranteed to work with your retro system as it will be as old as the computer you intend to use. It will also have the perfect connection type that you need, which increases the likelihood that what you are trying to do will actually work.

And this is also important to keep in mind: if you go the Lifehacker route and find some homemade or somewhat tricky option to get something new to work with something much, much older, save your receipts and / or be Be aware of the return policy, if any, wherever you buy these adapters. There is no point in sticking to the $ 30 adapter if it doesn’t work for your particular setup – and I suspect the reseller market for them isn’t very active to say the least.


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