Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mousing Around

Since my Tandy 1000SX had high resolution graphics (if you could call monochrome CGA 640x200 high resolution) we thought it made sense to get a mouse and learn to program with it. Then we might be able to write even better software for the engineers to use when setting up each circuitboard for production. We had a crude graphical CNC simulator that ran on the Kaypro machines, so this could be a step forward for us with more detailed graphics and a mouse for a pointing device.

We bought the mouse at Radio Shack. It was a pretty nice little mouse, and it came with its own interface card like most mice did back then. I'm guessing that this mouse was made by the same people who made the the famous Microsoft Mouse. It was very similar. All the mice at that time had a ball for tracking movement, and this one was a metal ball with a rubber coating.

I believe that my first experiments with the mouse were in Turbo BASIC. There were no built in commands for the mouse. I don't remember exactly how the mouse was read either, but I remember there was documentation. Playing around with some code for drawing on the screen with the mouse inspired me to write an experimental character recognizer. I would draw letters on the screen and the program would attempt to convert them to ASCII characters. It really wasn't that hard to do, but prototypes don't have to be practical. It was fun.

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