April 4, 2017 | | Comments Off on Joystick

“Franklin Personal Computer.” Digital Image. Smithsonian Institute. Accessed March 16, 2017.

History: The joystick was probably the most competitive antecedent. It was  

“A device for generating input signals that can cause the cursor or some other symbol to be moved rapidly about on the display screen in response to hand movements… It is a shaft, several centimeters in height, that is vertically mounted in a base and can be pulled or pushed by the fingers in any arbitrary direction. The normal mode of operation is to tilt the joystick from its upright position to produce the corresponding direction of motion.” [1]

The first joysticks were created as a way to control planes in the early 1910s. There were advancements made between the First and Second World War. By the time the Second World War broke out, joysticks were being used by the the military as a way to interact with technology as a weapons targeting system.[2] At the end of the war, the joystick was being used “to control an electric spot of light on the screen.”[3] In the 1960s and 1970s, the joystick competed with the mouse to be the main input device at the Stanford Research Institute with the mouse coming out on top.[4] Both are pointer devices that move the cursor on the computer screen. [5]

Why it was not picked: One of the reasons that the joystick was not picked is that the mouse is more user-friendly. In an experiment run by Doug Engelbart, Bill English and Melvyn Berman on computer input devices, it was found that the joystick was not as accurate as the mouse when it came to selecting targets on screen. [6]



  1. John Daintith and Edmund Wright, “joystick” In A Dictionary of Computing: Oxford University Press, 2008. Accessed April 23, 2017.
  2. Axel Roch, “Fire-Control and Human-Computer Interaction: Towards a History of the Computer Mouse (1940-1965).”, Lab. Jahrbuch der Kunsthochschule für Medien in Köln, August 28, 1998. Accessed February 20, 2017.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. William K. English, Douglas C, Englebart, and Melvyn L. Berman. “Display-Selection Techniques for Text Manipulation.” IEEE Transaction on Human Factors in Electronics 8, no. 1 (March 1967): 13.