Advanced 4D+ Mouse

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 5, 2017

Filed under: Random 87 comments

Some products are made by engineers. They come up with a new tool, device, or bit of software to get stuff done. Other products are the creation of marketing, where some non-engineers identify some vulnerable demographic and work to serveIn this case “serve” is the word marketing people use instead of “exploit”. it. Engineer-designed things are not always great and marketing-designed things are not always horrible, but in my experience most of the really cringe-worthy inventions come from marketing types.

This image made the rounds on Reddit and Imgur a couple of weeks ago, and I just had to share. It’s a great example of a product designed by marketing:

This is an abomination.
This is an abomination.

If you had a photograph of Vanilla Ice drinking a New York seltzer and watching Clueless on a VCR he rented at Blockbuster, then:

  1. That photo would STILL not be as overwhelmingly 90’s as the 4D+ Mouse.
  2. You should destroy that picture and wash your hands.

Let’s go over this image:

Cruise the Net faster with 2 wheels

This is very much a product of the 90’s, which means that most people were still using dial-up. At that time, the major limiting factor to surfing the web was bandwidth. A distant second was processor speed. Far, far below that would be things like screen resolution and contrast. I’m not sure how far down the list you’d have to go before “Mouse wheel throughput” showed up, but you’d need some pretty fine measuring equipment before you could even begin to quantify how much slowdown the average user experienced due to mouse wheel problems.

So the #1 claim at the top of the box is basically horseshit. And not clever horseshit. Not “it’s technically true in some edge cases” kind of horseshit. This is just brazenly preposterous nonsense. This is the equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge to fresh immigrants.

Bonus points for making the graphic depict the wheels as wagon wheels for maximum awkwardness.

520 dpi 30% faster than any others

First off, they’re talking about DPI in terms of making something faster. That’s not correct. DPI makes a device more precise. But this was a really common way for people to refer to thingsBecause getting a higher DPI mouse made your mouse pointer move around the screen faster until your turned down the sensitivity., so I’ll allow it. I might hope that a product wouldn’t perpetuate inaccurate or misleading language right on the front of the box, but this is so minor compared to everything else wrong with this that I feel bad for bringing it upI feel bad in the same way that a higher DPI mouse will speed up your web browsing. Which is to say, “Not in any amount that can be measured, but you can’t prove it’s zero.”.

In any case, this claim is only slightly less implausible than the preceding one. Saying the device is “30% faster than any other” is basically claiming that no other mouse on the market could possibly deliver more than 364 DPI. That is… very not true.

Enhanced Dual Wheel Scrolling Mouse

Laying aside the obvious nonsense of a mouse “speeding up” your net usage, how could 2 wheels possibly be useful? I’d love to know what the second wheel does. Are they both for vertical scrolling? Was moving down a page really that arduous a task that the user needed to put 2 fingers into it? Or is one wheel for “zooming”? Or maybe some sort of “back / next” type navigation? Just… WHAT?

The most pressing question on my mind is “What does the other button do?”, and this box does not answer that question. Which makes me suspect that the answer is really unimpressive, and perhaps even scary.

Dynamic 4D Scrollware Included

Oh man, I’ll bet THAT was a joy to use. I know nothing about this device aside from the image above, but I’m willing to bet that installing the scrollware involved an overly elaborate installation wizard. I’m also willing to bet you wound up with another stupid useless icon in the system tray.

I wonder how the middle mouse button worked. Are the scrollwheels click-able? Do we end up with a left-middle button, a right-middle button, and a middle-middle button? Or do I need to move one of my fingers off of the wheels to use the middle button? What’s the intended position of the user’s hand for this contraption?

Designed for Windows®

This was already covered in the dark circle that lists all the supported versions of Windows, so it kind of feels like we’re padding out the feature list here.

100% Microsoft® wheel functionality

Editing question: Why is “wheel functionality” the only phrase that isn’t capitalized in this list?

Anyway, this bullet point is clearly redundant, so what we’ve got here is a four-item bullet list that only tells us two things.

Advanced 4D+ Mouse

I can’t even imagine a use for a “3D” mouse, much less a “4D mouse”. So I have no idea what navigating more than 4 dimensions could possibly mean or how a mouse could help me do it. I guess if you add the 2-dimension mouse movement to the two scroll wheels we do indeed get 4 axis of input. But this is still balderdash. Adding another contrast knob to my television doesn’t make it a “3D” television.

Wrapping Up

This is obviously a product designed to sell to the newbies fresh off the boat in internet-land. The massive surge in growth of personal computers led to a cottage industry of crap products aimed at making ridiculous claims to the uninformed. That market still exists, but it’s very small now and no longer a tantalizing target for companies where the marketers outnumber the engineers.



[1] In this case “serve” is the word marketing people use instead of “exploit”.

[2] Because getting a higher DPI mouse made your mouse pointer move around the screen faster until your turned down the sensitivity.

[3] I feel bad in the same way that a higher DPI mouse will speed up your web browsing. Which is to say, “Not in any amount that can be measured, but you can’t prove it’s zero.”

From The Archives:

87 thoughts on “Advanced 4D+ Mouse

  1. ehlijen says:

    Yay! I loved those comment articles on random stuff you wrote a while back, good to see more of them :)

    As for what the second wheel might be for, the 90s where the days of ‘frames’ in web design (subdividing the screen into several technically distinct web pages, each of which had to be scrolled separately if they didn’t fit on the screen). This design could let you scroll the main page and the contents side bar separately, or it could let you scroll both up and down and left and right if the web page was designed by a troll?

    1. MooseHowl says:

      Huh. Easy left-right scrolling via a second wheel would actually be really useful for someone using a 4:3 monitor, when browsing a webpage that didn’t fit the screen for some reason.

      Also could have been handy for graphic designers, back in the days when zooming in-and-out on a big image (let’s not even talk about modeling software…) would take about a billion years.

      Middle-click scrolling (and easy zooming) would completely negate the need for it these days, though.

      1. Syal says:

        I’m assuming the wheel would be horizontal if it was for horizontal scrolling.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not a good idea because:
          It would take too much space.
          Its more awkward to do different motions with different fingers at the same time than just a single motion with all of them.
          It would have a much more limited function.The setup of having two parallel wheels can easily be rebound to do stuff different than just scrolling.Zooming,as the most obvious example.

        2. Tom says:

          So what you really want is a tiny trackball sitting on top of the mouse…

          Except Apple already tried that back in the noughties, when they were seemingly just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck in mouse development, coming up with endless wacky designs that were invariably crap rather than *gasp* swallow their pride and do anything anyone else had already done without putting some kind of twist on it.

          As I recall, it was barely-usable garbage; the ball was too small to have decent precision or to offer enough mechanical resistance to prevent it from either free-wheeling wildly at the slightest touch or accidentally clicking the second button hidden beneath it, Apple apparently also still being bent on only having single-button mice, or mice that at least gave that outward appearance, at the time.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I think those do exist.

        3. Ian says:

          I had one of those. It was garbage.

  2. Content Consumer says:

    Little do you know, Shamus, but if you pair it with this keyboard:
    It summons a Shoggoth when you scroll with both wheels and press the sunshine button simultaneously.

    But don’t stop there! Attach them to this computer:
    Under the principle of “three lefts is actually a right turn” it turns the whole combo into the best possible computing system that has ever existed, bar none. You’ll weep tears of gratitude at the sheer ease of use, the speed of browsing, and typing comfort and utility.

    1. Decius says:

      And if you install windows vista on it it inexplicably becomes a reference to British naval history.

  3. NoneCallMeTim says:

    I knew someone with a mouse with two buttons, and two wheels. One wheel was for vertical scrolling, the other was for horizontal scrolling.

    Unless you had a very small screen resolution, it was pointless for Internet, but on things like spreadsheets it was actually quite useful.

    When I was in high school (ages 10-16), we had Acorn computers. Those had three buttons and no wheel. If I remember correctly, one button was for select (like the common left click), one button for context menu, and one button for a program overall menu. A lot of programs just loaded things on to the context menu, leading to the system we have today, where right clicking on a particular thing gives a context menu, and clicking anywhere else gives a more general menu.

    There was a lot of weird stuff in the early days. People didn’t know what worked, or what the next new innovation would be, I don’t deny this is probably an attempt to cash in on people, but at the same time there were a lot of new controllers out on the market, as there was no single monopoly standard.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      My dad had a mouse with four buttons back in the late-80s! I think he bought it at an auction / old-hardware store? The way it worked was, the copper coil/target-wires interacted with an electric (or magnetic? I’m not an engineer) field. It was very precise because of this, but only worked on the special/made-for-it 2-foot wide mouse pad it came with. He ditched it as soon as roller-ball mice became non-prohibitively priced, and accurate-enough. :)

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        I remember those! Used one once. It had the coil in front of the mouse, in a sheet of perspex, with a crosshair in it. Essentially, you could use those mice like you would a graphics tablet these days, except that was at a time when the requisite electronics would not have fitted in a pen-size object.

        They were mostly made for CAD systems, to “trace” technical drawings. You put the drawing on the mat, then you can put the crosshair directly on the corners in the drawing, and since the position is measured by the mat, the computer can get the exact position, even if you lifted the mouse in between — no drift!
        There were also special sheets with different functions. So instead of a drawing you had different fields assigned to functions and instead of having to click buttons on the screen (which only take up valuable monitor space, and RAM, and stuff), you just click on the correct part of the mat to trigger the desired function.

        1. Nessus says:

          Holy crap! My dad had one of those when I was a kid! He was a physical oceanographer, and I remember his office/lab at work had a lightbox table w/a wire grid embedded in the glass top, and a flat perspex mouse with a coil-and-reticule dart. I think he used it for digitizing coordinate data from paper maps.

    2. 4ier says:

      I found a picture of the back of the box, and the second wheel is for horizontal scrolling. Actually, that might be what the “4D” is, “4 Directions”.
      It also has an option to scroll a page at a time instead of a few lines, so maybe that’s why it’s claiming to be faster?
      Here’s the picture of the back, if anyone wants to take a look.

      1. Tektotherriggen says:

        2D scrolling is really handy, especially for image processing, CAD, or large spreadsheets. I prefer the modern solution of a wheel that tilts sideways – with that mouse, I would constantly forget which wheel was which.

        Now if those two wheels both tilted, you could have 2D scrolling on one wheel, and zoom in/out and web back/forwards (or undo/redo) on the second wheel. That would actually be kind of useful, although I have no idea if the ergonomics are practical.

      2. Viktor says:

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure this particular mouse is crap, but 2 scroll wheels are actually really useful in certain industries. I just use a gaming mouse with key bindings that let me swap the direction of my scroll wheel, but 2 wheels would have been easier to get used to for reading plans that are really zoomed-in.

      3. Miguk says:

        I knew that “surf” had to be somewhere on that box. Just cruising the net isn’t cool enough.

    3. Pete_Volmen says:

      There’s some Logitech mice with two scroll wheels. Used them and love them whenever I have to work with spreadsheets or stuff like 3D modeling/CAD.
      3Dconnexion has some actual 3d mice.
      I’ve heard both high praise and apathetic response from users. You can tilt, spin and roll the nub-thing, as well as pan them in the four cardinal directions.
      The downside (aside from having to learn how to use it) is the price. It starts somewhere around a 130 eur and goes all the way towards the 500.

      1. Nessus says:

        I have one of those 3D Connexion “mice”. IMO they are highly overhyped. The hardware is fantastic: THE most rock solid and beautifully made peripheral I’ve ever encountered. The problems are twofold:

        1) It’s used in addition to rather than instead of a normal mouse (it’s good for viewport control, not pointer-related tasks), so you have to take your hand off either the keyboard or the mouse in order to use it. This means its actual practical usefulness/efficiency is inversely proportional to one’s fluency with whatever KB/M controls the software you’re using has. If you’re fluent with the KB/M controls (which I’d bloody well expect anyone using a given software professionally to be), using one of these devices actually hurts efficiency/productivity, even though it does feel very nice to use.

        The only way around this would be if you could use it to replace the keyboard for 99% of your normal workflow. Which I think may be possible with video editing software and the “pro” versions of the space mouse (the one with the hand pad with all the extra buttons on it, as opposed to the plain two-button “navigator” model). With 3D modelling though, or anything else where you’ll be using lots of KB shortcuts, it’s kinda useless/redundant.

        2) 3D Connexion’s company strategy when it comes to drivers is to deliberately limit the user’s ability to customize/rebind its functions, in order to motivate the user base to pester software makers into coding native support for 3D Connexion devices on their end. This IMO is massively dickish and exploitative, and puts a hard limit on the usefulness of what SHOULD be a pretty flexible device.

        They used to have a great beta driver like 5 years ago that would allow you to fully customize it in the fashion of a modern Logitech device or a Steam controller, but they removed all that when they took that driver version out of beta. Currently the only way to customize it beyond sensitivity and inverting input directions is via XML editing.

        This corporate strategy thing is not speculation, BTW: this was explicitly said by 3D Connexion’s rep on their forums back when the good beta driver got gutted. They didn’t remove those features because they were having a hard time making them work: they removed them because they wanted to encourage native support by “encouraging” users to petition their favorite software makers.

        Even back when the good beta driver was still available, the best use I found for the device was as a flight control joystick in slow-paced 6-axis games like X3. When the good driver was taken down, it got put back it it’s box, and that’s where it’s stayed ever since.

    4. Given the comments regarding CAD and other uses, I wonder if this was also a product of when they were cranking out peripherals without years of studying the market? I mean, Best Buy used to have scanners that did legal and blueprint sizes that were mass-produced and cheap, but that was when hardware makers were still trying to figure out who would buy what and why.

      Nowadays, to get a blueprint scanner, you’re usually talking several grand because it’s a specialty use. If, for some reason, you would want a 4D mouse (however that’s defined), you’d probably have to pay a similar premium.

    5. Abnaxis says:

      Yeah, I was kind of wondering whether 4-D meant “four degrees of freedom”, not “four dimensions”

      Like…was 3D rendering even a thing consumers ever saw at that time?I vaguely remember that being a mid-to-late nineties thing when 3D graphics started appearing on computers everyday people used

  4. Da Mage says:

    Clearly a 4D mouse allows you to navigate through the next page you are going to look at before you go to it.

    1. That would make browsing TV Tropes quite a lot easier. :D

  5. Grudgeal says:

    Well it sure seems like a 4D mouse to me. It travelled here all the way from the 90ies so we could make fun of it.

  6. silver Harloe says:

    Holy carp, you mean I could’ve had a mouse that literally manipulated time? I was shopping in the wrong stores.

    1. DGM says:

      Well… You have to get your web surfing up to 88 mph before the time travel kicks in.

      But that’s what the second wheel is for!

    2. Grudgeal says:

      No, no, no, it doesn’t manipulate time. It’s just, you know, a 4D mouse. So, it exists. In time.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Of course it manipulates time.If you use that second scroll wheel you will travel to the future at the incredible rate of one second per second.

      2. Echo Tango says:

        The plus indicates it moves forward through time at an accelerated rate. Or appears to, to any observer. You know – because of how quickly the cheap plastic degrades.

        1. Grudgeal says:

          Also, the concept seems to have aged much faster than that of regular, one-wheeled mice.

      3. Geebs says:

        The fourth dimension is the time wasted thinking about what “4D+” means.

    3. Matt Downie says:

      But you know about it now, right? So now you just need get one and use it to notify your past self.

  7. Smejki says:

    “I can't even imagine a use for a “3D” mouse”

    3D mice (which often don’t resemble a standard computer mouse at all) are often used with 3D CAD. I had the pleasure once but couldn’t get used to it. Mainly because CATIA which was my CAD program back then had the controls very well designed. Just imagine it. You have to allow for all-axes rotation, zooming, panning, selecting elements and moving them only using the basic mouse. Quite a design challenge. Not all CAD programs have that and that’s where 3D mice get to shine as they have specialized input design.

    1. SKD says:

      Beat me to it. I support aerospace engineers and everyone of them uses a 3D mouse for model manipulation. They’re also useful for programs like Poser/Daz3D for manipulating and moving around within scenes.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      There are some pretty good 3D mice out there, but only as far as they’re supported by the software … Connexion mice are still quite popular. My problem with them is that half the software cannot use them.

      I’ve used CATIA quite a lot, and for a while I was fine with it but if you also have to use things like NX, Tecplot, (Tecplot Chorus, which uses INCOMPATIBLE SETTINGS), Fluent, ICEM, CFX, Paraview … this is carazy! We’ve had standard mouse settings for looking at 2D content, but for 3D every. single. developer had to re-invent the proverbial wheel and set their program up so that you will be driven mad if you try to get used to more than one program … My life would be a huge lot better if somebody was able to implement some standard for spatial navigation that will actually be observed by most of the software.

      At least all programs which support Connexion space mice do it in the same way, but most don’t, and requiring special hardware is not a very good move anyway, so … ugh.

  8. Echo Tango says:

    depict the wheels as wagon wheels

    Actually, Shamus, that’s basically what mouse wheels look like, if you crack open a mouse. (e.g. I did a repair on my mouse to get it to last another month when I was broke one time.) The wheels have these equally-spaced spokes/pie-slices, which are used to break a beam of light (red LED?) or let it through. Since they’re equally-spaced, they can know how many of them are being moved past the sensor per second, and you get your scroll-speed. :)

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      In this context: I’ve never been able to work out how ball-based mice, and mousewheels, can work out which direction the wheel rotates in. Counting spokes only gives you the distance, not the direction…

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Have an offset in two sensors, such that you can measure the relative blockned-ness of light from them both. If the amount of detected light is rising (remember, these will have at least some analog-ness to the sensors) in one sensor and fallign in the other, you know which direction it’s moving in. Roller/ball sensors are the same, except instead of detecting light, they would be detecting voltage because the roller sensors would be tiny coils of wire (generators/motors, really) which produce voltage when they move.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          They dont need to be analog at all.Just measure which sensor sent the signal first,and which did it second.This is why mouse wheels are designed to have discrete resting positions.

          1. Echo Tango says:

            Digital stuff moving fast enough is a close approximation to analog. ;)

          2. Zak McKracken says:

            Yep, and those also help to reduce the number of instances where a change in direction is misinterpreted

        2. Zak McKracken says:

          Oh, of course! Just because I only see one sensor-thing I should not assume that there is only one photosensitive cell in there… makes total sense, and you just cleared up a decades-old mystery!

          Whichever cell looses/gains the signal last, that’s the direction the wheel is heading.

    2. Miguk says:

      If they really wanted to make it look realistic they would have a bunch of cat hair tangled around the spokes.

      1. evileeyore says:

        /spit take

        Cat hair and lint.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    how could 2 wheels possibly be useful?

    Ive had a two wheeled mouse once,and it actually does have uses.The most obvious one is for horizontal scrolling.But zooming can also be a use for it.And of course,there are uses for it in games like bioshock where you have weapons and powers to scroll through*.

    However,while the second wheel can be useful,its also very awkward to get used to,so I ditched it.

    *Of course,this is assuming that the game allows you to bind all your fancy mouse functions in the first place.Which is a big if.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Some games don’t even let you map back/forward buttons, or the middle button. The most annoying for me is not being able to re-map/reverse up/down scroll, in games where it’s backwards. :C

      1. Tektotherriggen says:

        X-Mouse Button Control is a free program that can map all sorts of functions and key-strokes to mouse buttons, or wheel turns. I found it pretty useful for Torchlight and System Shock.

        Obviously I make no personal guarantees that the software is honest and safe – but it seems OK to me so far.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          I’m actually running Linux, but apparently Linux just exposes the necessary remap functionality with some basic command-line tools / config files. Now I just need to convince more game studios to release their friggin’ games on Linux. (I’m actually super-Jonesing to play Oxygen Not Included, Overcookedand Astroneer. So fun! :)

        2. Echo Tango says:

          Lousy spam plugin! I linked to StackOverflow, YouTube, and Steam! WTB better spam plugin for Shamus; Fifty gold pieces! :P

          1. If we’re talking WoW’s gold, I’ll add another 5K to the “Better Plugin Fund.” :P

      2. Bubble181 says:

        The most annoying is games not allowing rebinding of WASD buttons, and not properly reacting to non-QWERTY keyboards. I usually use AZERTY, sometimes QWERTZ, and occasionally DVORAK. On none of those do WASD map to anything that makes sense. Some games are literally unplayable because of it.

    2. Zak McKracken says:

      My first guess was you could give them both the vertical scroll function and use them at the same time to scroll faster!
      So while one finger has scrolled as far as it goes, you need to lift it and move it back, the other finger can scroll with the other wheel! It’s like some of those button-mashing games where you’d use two fingers to mash buttons at twice the frequency!


      Middle mouse buttons, though, have been required in many Unix environments for a lot longer than Windows is around. Left button to select text, middle button to paste it.
      ctrl+c to kill the active process — don’t use that!

    3. Sunshine says:

      Maybe it would have helped with Rutskarn’s inventory in Battlespire. As if it would have allowed a convenient key-mapping.

  10. Bropocalypse says:

    If the marketers who devised this stayed in the industry, they probably went on to pitch mice for gamers. Specifically the kind with blue LEDs in them.

    1. Sunshine says:

      The kind of internally-lit mouse that resembles the Batmobile and has a small messaging keyboard.

  11. Lazlo says:

    It says right there that it’s 4D, so obviously the second scroll wheel moves through time instead of space.

    Honestly, the more I think about it, having a scroll wheel mapped to ctrl-u/ctrl-r would be freakish, but maybe cool?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      Actually, undo and redo on a wheel or forward/backward buttons sounds to me like it should be standard. :)

      1. King Marth says:

        I see you’ve never used a mouse with twitchy, imprecise scroll-wheel inputs. What is your secret?

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          Not-ratcheted scroll wheels on mice are a terrible terrible thing. I have to use one at work, and I loathe it.
          Also terrible: People who make drop-down lists where you can’t select options by just hovering and rolling the wheel.

          1. Pete_Volmen says:

            What? No!
            It’s basically the sole reason I can’t get a non-logitech mouse. Freespinning scroll wheels are fantastic. Admittedly, this is only true if you can switch between ratcheting and freespinning.
            Most of the time, you want the normal scroll wheel, but when you want to scroll fast, it’s incredibly useful.

            1. Zak McKracken says:

              okay, it mostly depends on the use case, but having freespinning and ratcheted mice all mixed up makes good interface design even more difficult because the designer never knows what the user has.

              When I have a long thing to scroll through, if I need more than three spins on the wheel, I just use the scroll bar because that’s what it was invented for. Spending a minute just spinning the wheel makes not much sense. This seems also the only scenario where a free spinning wheel (with some proper mass, so it can do a few turns alone) makes sense. In all other cases, like picking something from a list, flicking through tabs/pages/images you need to have retentions. Also if you want to be able to click the wheel without accidentally rotating it.
              My (Logitech) mouse is kind-of halfway in between. There are some barely noticeable retentions but the wheel has almost no mass, so it immediately stops when your finger lets go, but I still cannot tell how far to move it to get the next “step”. So I have the disadvantages of both. So much fun accidantally having stuff scrolling around, when I just wanted to middle-click! I remember a friend had a mouse in a store where the retentions would be disabled when spinning above a certain speed. That was not bad, actually, but then it’s only useful for aimless fast scrolling, and I can already do that with the scrollbar.

              Another scenario is zooming, where fixed zoom levels are not enough. For that, it would be good to have a continuously-moving wheel, with continuous sampled positions. But then It would have to switch between that and ratcheted operation, and that takes another switch that I need to remember and use, so nope. It would not be worth the time I’d lose switching modes and forgetting which mode the mouse is currently in.

    2. Miguk says:

      Or alt-tab.

  12. MrGuy says:

    Regarding “Designed for Windows.” Depending on the era (i.e. around ’95) it MIGHT be the case that “designed for windows” was a relevant buzz phrase. Because (for all you whippersnappers out there) that’s the time Microsoft declared by fiat “in addition to Alt and Ctrl, Windows 95 shall also expect and demand a Windows key, which no keyboard has had before.”

    The reaction from people like me was “Wait – Windows95 needs its own special KEYBOARD?” But the reaction from marketers was to dutifully produce the requested products with big “Designed for Windows95!” Or “Designed for Windows!” labels.

    As far as I recall, Win95 didn’t have any demands on the design of mice. So use of the phrase is still pure BS. But at least in a certain era, it was specially targeted BS, because Microsoft had gotten everyone all worried about whether their peripherals were “designed for Windows”

    If you want to be incredibly generous, you could argue this box label was to ward off a wave of questions from clueless consumers who saw “designed for windows” on the keyboards and not on the mice…

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      Pretty sure that’s what the phrase is alluding to. I think it means that all the thigns Windows expects a mouse to be capable of can be done by this one and will work. Not that it means much here…

  13. karln says:

    This is obviously a product designed to sell to the newbies fresh off the boat in internet-land.

    And for the uninformed to gift to their computer “whizz-kid” family members. I used to live in fear of getting gifts like this and being unable to convincingly pretend to be pleased with them. The thought still gives me a sinking feeling in my tummy.

    1. Syal says:

      The trick instead is to convincingly pretend to be confused or upset with the good gifts.

  14. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I have actually seen a 3D mouse of sorts: it’s for using Autocad 3D, which requires scrolling around a 3D object. I suppose graphics modeling programs might use it as well.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    The problem with this product is that it was clearly designed for CAD. There were mice in the 90s with three mouse buttons and a second scroll wheel on the side specifically designed for CAD. This product was clearly originally intended for that specific practical purpose, just like the 3D Connexion CADMouse.

    Then someone realized they were over-budget and needed to market the product to as many people as possible or the company would tank. So marketing got their hands on it and decided to cram as many buzz words and things-kids-are-into-these-days onto the front. See also the 3D Connexion CADMouse page blatantly lying about it being the “first” mouse designed for CAD.

    The engineers will see it and think “Oh yeah, I actually need one of those” and a small percentage of regular consumers with more money than self-control (a.k.a. “whales”) will be tricked by the buzz words into buying a mouse with two scroll wheels when they’ll only ever use the one. That’s how companies like roline and 3D Connexion stay in business.

    1. Sunshine says:

      I think that’s also the reason for infomercials where someone is so clumsy that you wonder how they haven’t suffered a fatal mishap getting dressed. The product isn’t really meant for someone who can’t use a cup without disaster, it’s specifically useful for someone with a disability, but that’s too small a market to make the device profitable.

  16. Noah Gibbs says:

    From the current ROLINE-SECOMP computer accessories pages, it also looks like it may be a German company, with English not a corporate first language.

  17. Miguk says:

    I’m just amazed that we didn’t have more of this craziness with mousewheels in the 1990s. Most technologies take a few years before people figure out the best way to implement it and what to do with it. But if I recall correctly, we immediately got the mousewheel that doubles as a middle mouse button and applications started using it to scroll and zoom right away.

  18. Zak McKracken says:

    “Designed by marketing” — I’m not so sure…

    This looks to me as if some engineer thought, at a time when wheels had just been freshly introduced, that an additional control axis might be a useful thing, but maybe had either too few or too many (but not easily marketable) ideas as to what it would be useful for.
    The nice people in marketing had probably no idea what it’s for since half of them did not even understand the use of single scroll wheels (I know people who still don’t get ctrl+c/ctrl+v — it’s “edit-> copy” and “edit -> paste”, in 2017!), and many of the engineers’ cool ideas depended on yet non-existent software support anyway, and so they took some of the words the engineer had told them (in no particular order) and turned them into phrases they hoped “the customer” was going to find appealing.

    1. Ysen says:

      I assumed it was designed by engineers as well. CLEARLY you need the second wheel as a failsafe in case the first one breaks, right?

  19. Steve C says:

    I had a mouse very much like this. It was the best mouse I ever owned!

    I absolutely would buy it again. In fact, I still have this mouse somewhere. I kept it so that I could maybe possibly someday swap out the broken parts and repair it once I found a similar enough mouse. I repaired it 3 times just to keep using it. I would be using it right now if it still worked, roller-ball and all. It was extremely comfortable and worked really well. Mine was made by a different manufacturer with the same design: 2 scroll wheels, 3 buttons, 1 thumb button.

    As for the marketing on that package, ya it’s pretty bad. Except a lot of criticisms you are heaping on it are not valid. (Kind of feels like you are badmouthing a dead childhood friend here.) In the 90s:

    1) A mouse might be Mac or Windows or even DOS. It made sense to specify Windows! Windows! Windows! on the packaging. I remember specifically not buying mice because they didn’t have windows versions on the packaging. It was important enough to include it multiple times. It was *the* most important bullet point feature of a mouse at the time.

    2) The scroll wheel often did not work on windows. Especially if it was running under base window drivers without extra software. If it had 2 scroll wheels, it was doubtful the 2nd one would work at all. “100% Microsoft® wheel functionality” was a valid feature to stamp on a box in bold. It was saying you should expect it to work. Remember that these were the days that you had to navigate IRQ conflicts to get a mouse to work. And mice (especially for Macs) would be sold with extra buttons that hand zero chance of working.

    3) It’s hard to think of now, but yes, you could really “Cruise the net faster with 2 wheels”. Websites and all browsers were a mess in the 90s. It was awful. Nothing fit a monitor and there were often hidden scroll bars in panes. Geocities is a meme now. In the 90s, Geocities quality pages weren’t just the norm, they were the best designed pages at the time! An extra scroll wheel was handy as hell.

    4) “4D” and “4D+” stood for something. I forget what. It was something like “Drivers”. While it did stand for something dumb and unimportant, it was not referring to 4 Dimensions. It wasn’t quite that dumb.

    5) Why the hate for 2 scroll wheels? Have you ever used a mouse with 2 scroll wheels? It’s great! It was incredibly hard to go back to just one scroll wheel. Even now I miss it. First your fingers fit between them. It’s far more comfortable than resting a finger on the wheel. The 2nd scroll would be set per application. Most of the time it was ‘page down’ (left scroll being ‘line down’). Often it was horizontal scroll, or right/left cursor or zoom. In games it was a ton of other things.

    Hey I found the box for my old mouse along with the 3.5floppy and instructions. Mine was a “EZ-Scroll Pro Mouse” by PC Concepts. Here is the front and back. Like the socks I used to buy, I’ve resigned myself to never having a mouse that good again. Sigh.

  20. The Seed Bismuth says:

    Wow I think I got that for my 6th year old Christmas present if I remember right one wheel scrolls up and down and the other wheel left to right. the middle clicker/button has the function that on a normal mouse is when you press right + right buttons/clicker at the same time. it was actual useful on the 1998 net at least for this 6/7 year old

  21. Timelady says:

    To be fair, I did do a lot of scrolling on the internet in the 90s. There was a long period when I only had very limited internet time (10 hrs a month free, or somebody needed to use the phone, etc.), so what I’d do is dial up, find and load pages with as much simple and entertaining text content, then disconnect again and read them.

    Usenet quote files and funny lists were a big part of my teenage years, looking back.

  22. Lachlan the Mad says:

    Regarding scroll speed as a throughput issue; I’ve actually been running into that recently! I’m going through a lot of old scientific papers, saved as terribly-compressed PDFs, and the PDF readers choke hellishly as I scroll them down. Of course, that’s much more the fault of the PDF format than the scroll wheel — I don’t think a double-speed scroll would help.

    (And it isn’t Adobe’s fault, I don’t have Adobe PDF reader installed on this computer — it’s either Chrome or NitroPDF. They’re just terribly compressed files).

  23. Flux Casey says:

    As someone who studied marketing, it really rankles when people talk about things like this and call it marketing. That’s not marketing. Marketing is finding something people need or want whether they know it or not and providing it, making sure they know it exists and is available for purchase. That product knowingly benefits no one. A marketer would look at that and ask “Who is this for?” and the seller would say “Idiots”. And naturally the marketer would respond “Oh. Well, have fun selling a few of these and then seeing them rot on store shelves when people realise they’re worthless.”

  24. boota says:

    gotta say though, 2 wheels today, scrolling in 2 different windows at the same time could actually be a useful feature.

  25. Dev Null says:

    I suspect I’m just missing the jokes, but…

    A normal mouse is 3-dimensional. X-axis, Y-axis, wheel. Think of it as controlling the altitude of your point in 3 spacial dimensions if you like, but it doesn’t have to be spacial to count as a third axis you can pan across with the mouse.

    A mouse with two wheels is 4-dimensional in the same way. It’s (probably, for most people) not _useful_, but it is 4d.

  26. krellen says:

    I’m curious about the math that got you to 343 dpi. 520 is 30% larger than 400, and 70% of 520 is 364. Can you show your work that got you to 343?

    1. Shamus says:


      When I typed it into the calculator I had it in my head that the claim was “33% larger”, not “30%”.

      I’m going to edit the post to fix that.

  27. Blackbird71 says:

    What I find remarkable is that no one seems to have noticed (or at least, no one has mentioned) that this is appears to be a left-handed mouse. As I recall, finding a mouse specific to either hand in the 90’s was something of an oddity. While a right-handed mouse wasn’t completely unheard of, trying to find a left-handed mouse was effectively a modern-day snipe hunt.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      No,its right handed.The groove on the left of it is mean for your thumb,and the leftmost button is the largest one,because its the one you would use the most.It just has this weird curvature.

      1. Blackbird71 says:

        You’re right, I missed the thumb groove. As you say though, the curvature is quite bizarre – I’m not sure I could align my fingers to those buttons.

  28. Dreadjaws says:

    Oh, man, I hope LGR gets a hold of one of these! That’d be sweet, and it certainly answer many questions about this preposterous device.

  29. Pinkhair says:

    Man, the first thing I thought when I saw the picture was, ‘That mouse looks great.’ And then i read the article.

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