I picked up a Logitech C7 mouse to go with my IBM 5170. It’s so bad it’s good. There is no way I would use it all the time, but in so many ways it’s perfect for the mid-eighties PC.
It outsold Microsoft
Most people’s first choice, if they wanted a period correct mouse to go with a vintage PC, would be a Microsoft mouse of the appropriate age. I used to have that exact Microsoft mouse. It wasn’t great. The later white Microsoft models are pretty great, even the ones not shaped like a comma.
In its day, the Logitech C7 outsold those early Microsoft mice. It was less expensive, even though it retailed for $99, and it came with better software. In the early days, a mouse didn’t just come with a driver. It also came with software that enabled mouse driven menus in popular software that wasn’t coded for a mouse. Logitech provided more, so they got the better reviews. Better reviews led to more sales.
My review of the Logitech C7
The Logitech C7 looks like the early three button mice for Unix workstations. If you use it with DOS, two of the buttons are useless. It is wider than a modern mouse, and angled pretty uncomfortably. Mine tracks okay after cleaning it up, but if you like a fast mouse, you might not like this one. I grew up with a slow mouse, so I prefer a slow mouse, but with this one, I had to speed it up a bit. I normally use a mouse on its lowest or second lowest setting and I turn the c7 up halfway.
The buttons don’t give much feedback. The left button is noticeably mushier than the other two, which is understandable. It’s more than 35 years old and the left button probably got all the use. The shape of the button isn’t exactly ergonomic. Nothing about this mouse is.
What’s great about it is that it looks right at home next to an IBM 5170. The industrial design is a good match for the Model M keyboard and the 5170’s big boxy presence. And the color is a pretty good match too. I imagine when they were new, the match was probably almost perfect. A few hours in the sun should tone down the
oxidation patina a bit.
I remember when mice came on the market, magazines would run articles about them, debating the pros and cons of them. They didn’t have a hard time finding people who said they bought one, pay it $100 for it, and almost never use it. Especially in the 1986 to 1987 time frame.
Use it for a while and you can begin to understand why. Nothing against Logitech. I’ve been using Logitech mice since the ’90s, and while their cheap mice aren’t anything special, they aren’t bad. And their mid-range and high-end mice are rather nice to use. In 1985, they had a bit to learn. That said, so did everyone else.
Out of the box, the Logitech C7 did not emulate a Microsoft mouse. It emulated a mouse from a bygone company called Mouse Systems. That was the early standard before Microsoft caught on. If you want to use a Logitech C7 with Windows, use the Mouse Systems driver. You may be able to find a specific Logitech C7 driver, but if you don’t want to mess with that, a Mouse Systems driver will get you going.
In MS-DOS, I use the Cutemouse driver. I like it because it works with almost any mouse and uses very little memory. I use the /M and /R1 options with the driver and it works pretty well for me. You may want to tweak the R parameter to your liking. Using that driver, it works fine with all DOS software that uses a mouse that I’ve tried with it. I have no need for the original software, since I tend to run slightly later DOS software on my machine.
The Logitech C7 and period correctness
I think the Logitech C7 is an ideal mouse for a pre-PS/2 IBM PC, or for that matter, any compatible of that age. It was the most popular mouse of that time, so it’s not hard to find. There’s almost always at least one available on Ebay.
Since it is vintage hardware, it sells for more than some people would prefer to pay for it, but it sells for less than a Microsoft mouse of the same era, isn’t really any worse, and it looks the part just as well. It’s also easier to find, which is a testament to how many more units Logitech sold.
Usage wise, if you’re going to be using your vintage PC all day, you might want to plug in a slightly more modern mouse that is more comfortable and responsive. But for short sessions, it’s fine, and it feels authentic. I only got to use an IBM AT with a mouse once in the 1980s, and this is exactly what I remember it being like.
If you open the Logitech C7, there is a jumper inside to select one of three modes of operation. Mine still has the warranty seal intact, and I didn’t want to break it. But if yours has already been opened, that is a sign that someone has changed the jumper. If that’s the case, try a Microsoft driver with it, because the setting someone probably wants instead of the default is Microsoft compatibility.
Today, I’m fine using Cutemouse, because it uses less memory than a Microsoft driver.