Microsoft mouse (3rd gen)

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Microsoft mouse (3rd gen)
Branding Microsoft
Buttons 2
Handedness Ambidextrous (favouring right)
Interfaces PS/2, Serial ("InPort")
Sensor Opto-mechanical
Introduced 1987
Discontinued 1993

The third generation Microsoft Mouse (1987) introduced a new design that at the time was very influential. It got nicknamed the "Dove bar mouse" because of its colour and shape resembling a bar of soap.


Known variations:

  • "Serial-PS/2" with PS/2 interface. The cable has a DE-9 plug to an adaptor cable to PS/2.
  • "InPort": The cable has a 9-pin mini-DIN plug into a boxy "Mouse Interface" adaptor to a DB-25 Serial port.
    • Large Mouse Interface, block-shaped box.
    • Small Mouse Interface, candy bar-shaped box.[1]
  • Transparent version of the "Serial-PS/2" mouse.[2]


The work for designing the mouse was outsourced to Matrix Design (later IDEO) with the objective to "reinvent the mouse" but without changing the internal mechanism[3].

Significant design elements compared to previous mice:

  • The mouse ball was moved forward so that both the sensor position and the mouse's centre of gravity got right in-between the fingers that moved the mouse. User testing showed that this had a measurable effect on pointing accuracy.[4].
  • The buttons were made larger encompassing the entire width of the mouse, and flush with the mouse body as opposed to sticking out. By having larger buttons, finger position could be less precise[5].
  • A ridge between left and right buttons to allow the buttons to be distinguished by feel. (presumably to compensate for the buttons being larger)

Surprisingly, a smaller prototype measured more poorly, which set the size[3]. The rounded back was inspired by existing everyday handheld items, specifically telephone handsets. Untextured plastic was chosen because it is easier to clean.

Previous Microsoft mice had used rubber dome switches for buttons, which were changed into microswitches with shorter travel and better tactile feedback.[5]


The mouse was a success. It sold 2 million units within two years.[4]

The mouse is important because its design inspired the industry greatly. Within a few years, mice from e.g. Apple and Commodore had rounder shapes, flush, encompassing button(s) and the mouse ball in front of the electronics.

See also

External links


  1.—Microsoft "Dove Bar" Mouse. Retrieved 2018-09-22
  2.—Microsoft Serial-PS/2 Compatible Mouse, Clear. Retrieved 2018-09-22
  3. 3.0 3.1 ATKINSON, P. (2007). The best laid plans of mice and men: the computer mouse in the history of computing. Design issues, 23 (3), 46-61. Online version (page 6). Retrieved 2018-07-12
  4. 4.0 4.1 IDEO—A Hand-Friendly, Precisely Controlled Mouse. Retrieved 2018-07-12
  5. 5.0 5.1 PC Magazine. Volume 7. Number 3. Dated 1988-02-16 — The shape of things to come, by Tom Stanton. Online copy. Retrieved 2018-09-22