So many XY pointing devices have been developed over the years… I’ve used light pens, graphic tablets, trackballs, touch screens, joysticks, touch pads, trackpoints, even that weird HP desktop machine, the HP-150 from 1983, where you pointed at the screen and your finger intercepted IR beams crisscrossing the raised screen bezel (this last failed miserably – how could they ignore fatigue from repeatedly raising the arm to touch the screen?!)
But the king of all XY input devices is without question one of the earliest: the Mouse. Only the QWERTY keyboard has greater tenacity (unfortunately, in this case). Invented in 1963 by Doug Engelbart and later commercialized by Xerox PARC, the mouse remains the most popular device in the family, and this is (IMHO) because it is simply the best – it maps extremely well to the brain-hand-screen-eye-brain closed loop, making its action so intuitive as to be transparent. It just doesn’t get any better than that. And interestingly, the exact shape of the mouse is unimportant: almost like cars, they went from blocky to streamlined as time went by, but are just as good in any shape. It’s the basic “movable box with buttons under the fingertips” that is the winning factor; the rest is window dressing.
Here’s kudos to a great design!