The History and Evolution of the Computer Stylus

The pen, as they say, is mightier than the sword. And the stylus, a pen designed to control computers, has been a permanent presence throughout the history of machine interfaces. Although it took more than half a century to be in the hype, the stylus has proven to be worth the wait – whether to cast artists directly to their screens, people (rather than types) want to write down notes, or those who only mouse. Want to have the option of.

How did the stylus go from science-dream to reality? There are some notable milestones along the way.

‘As We May Think’

[1945:[1945: While trying to solve the problem of information overload for scientists working on national security projects, the then head of the US Office for Scientific Research and Development came up with one of the most influential concepts in the history of OneNever Bush Tech. As the title was published under “We Think,” Bush’s idea was for a type of “memory extender,” or “memex,” which includes a document scanner, microfilm memory storage system, touchscreen, and Most importantly included here – a stylish style users can add their annotations. While the Memex was not manufactured during Bush’s lifetime, it was the birth of a half-dozen technological revolutions, including pen computing.

Thought gains momentum

Tom Ellis is one of the Rand tablet computer inventors.  He has it written on the tablet in his right hand.  There are a series of graphic lines on the screen.
Tom Tablet is one of the inventors of the Rand tablet computer, using the Rand tablet. Courtesy of Gwen Bell / Computer History Museum

1950s to 1970s: Computers were still out of the reach of regular people during the 1950s, ’60s and’ 70s, but still some innovative work was being done with styles and associated technology. The Styalator may sound like a cross between a beauty product and some fitness equipment, but it was actually one of the first styluses designed for a computing device.

More famous was the RAND tablet, a graphical computer input device with a stylus. The Rand tablet stylus claims a short click switch that sends a signal to the tablet when depressed. Then Xerox PARC had Alan Ka’s DynaBook Concept, a tablet with a built-in keyboard and a stylus.

None of the three proposed devices made mainstream booms at the time, but all of them helped to advance the notion of pen-based computing. He also established the idea of ​​stylus-based handwriting as a possible computer input.

Laying groundwork for trackpad

Colpad tablet
Old computer

1984: Koelpad was a $ 195 assistant that allowed users to change their icons (that is, if they were too Herd A mouse with a stylus) and trackpad. It worked with the Commodore 64 and was advertised primarily as a drawing tool for children. At a time when drawing on your computer was the most futuristic thing imaginable, this neat device was a game-changer. It also laid the foundation for the trackpad – and the notion that the stylus could be used as creative applications on computers.

An operating system for touch

1990s: It seems Microsoft was interested in creating a version of Windows that could be controlled via the stylus after some time around the Microsoft Surface debut? think again! In the first half of the 1990s, the firm introduced Microsoft Windows for Windows Computing 1.0 and 2.0, reconfigured versions of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 that were sold under license from the likes of Samsung for its $ 5,000 Penmaster tablet in about 1992. Could be used in

Microsoft did not lean into the Windows stylus for pen computing as much as it could. Nevertheless, it boasted some impressive handwriting recognition, which could explain (accurately – most of the time) a user’s scribbles and turn them into printed words.

Age of pda

Apple Newton Message Pad
Apple’s Newton Messagepad. Felix Winkelnemper / Wikimedia Commons

Also 1990s: PDA, once a well-recognized term in the portable computing space, is all but forgotten today. This is for the personal data assistant, who was often a pocket-sized computer using a style. Apple took a crack at the concept with the Newton messagepad.

However, the biggest early winner in this space was probably the smaller, cheaper Palm Pilot. The Palm Pilot’s low-tech styling was nothing special as a stand-alone accessory. If you lose it, you can replicate the same functionality with a finger or any other hard pointing device. But, combined with the portability of the device, it was discovered that the stylus could be a quick, easy and intuitive way to interact with the technology. It looks dated today, but was a lowertech dress rehearsal for the PDA smartphone.

Stylus go mainstream

2010 and after: The stylus has always gone hand-in-hand with touchscreen insofar as development is concerned. It is therefore perfectly understandable that capacitive touchscreens have finally been going mainstream since the mid-2000s and this will reinvigorate the stylus’ role. For a few years, manufacturers of touchscreen devices discontinued the stylus, believing that swiping and otherwise manipulating the screen’s elements with a finger was better than a pen. But as these touchscreen devices became more capable, more and more possibilities of them began to be re-examined.

Samsung made its S Pen for the Galaxy Note series, while Apple boarded with the Apple Pencil. Among the boldest shows of faith in the new era of touch-based computing is Microsoft, which has leaned into it by making Windows both a desktop and mobile operating system. Machines like the Surface Studio can be operated using Surface Pens, a high-precision, pressure-sensitive stylus that boasts “precision ink” at one end and a digital rubber eraser at the other. Thanks to the ability of the stylus to create pressure (making them more useful for applications such as drawing), we are finally living in the age of the stylus.

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