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The origins of the joystick

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Atari joystickJoysticks are truly ubiquitous as an interface between humans and machines — be it in the pilot's cockpit, game controller, or that little red nub on your IBM keyboard. So The New York Times decides to dig deep in hopes of discovering where the word came from and who invented it. If you thought its etymological roots were x-rated then please, please cleanse your mind 'cause they are probably much less wicked. Some researchers feel its origins are the result of "the exhilaration felt by an early pilot's journey into the air," (a stick that makes you happy) while others believe it is named for a Missouri pilot and inventor, James Henry Joyce (the Joyce stick). As to who invented it, well, that's not clear either. It was thought to have its origins in aircraft until a Confederate-era submarine containing a sophisticated single-stick steering device was surfaced off the coast of South Carolina in 2001. So what does the New York Times conclude — they have no idea, but we think they really enjoyed printing the word "nub."

[Thanks, Ryan]



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