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Introduction to Light Pen:

Introduction to Light Pen:

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Published by Samana Raza

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Published by: Samana Raza on Dec 01, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Light pen is an input device that is used with a cathode-ray tube display topoint at items on the screen or to draw new items or modify existing ones. The light pen had a photo sensor at the tip that responds to the peakillumination that occurs when the CRT scanning spot passes its point of focus. The display system correlated the timing of the pulse from the photo sensorwith the item being displayed to determine the position of the light pen. Alight pen can work with any CRT-based display, but not with LCD screens(though Toshiba and Hitachi displayed a similar idea at the "Display 2006"show in Japan), projectors and other display devices. The light pen was used to draw items with the aid of a tracking cross. As thelight pen was moved across the screen, the part of the tracking cross sensedchanges thus allowing the direction of movement of the light pen to beascertained. The tracking cross can be redrawn to locate it at the expectednew center of the light pen's position and thus appears to follow the lightpen. The user brings the pen to the desired point on screen and presses thepen button to make contact. Contrary to what it looks like, the pen does notshine light onto the screen; rather, the screen beams into the pen.
A light pen is fairly simple to implement. The light pen works by sensing thesudden small change in brightness of a point on the screen when the electrongun refreshes that spot. By noting exactly where the scanning has reached atthat moment, the X,Y position of the pen can be resolved. This is usually
achieved by the light pen causing an interrupt, at which point the scanposition can be read from a special register, or computed from a counter ortimer. The pen position is updated on every refresh of the screen.
 The light pen became moderately popular during the early 1980s. It wasnotable for its use in the Fairlight CMI, and the BBC Micro. Ihe Fairlight CMI(Computer Musical Instrument) was the first polyphonic digital samplingsynthesizer. It was designed in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogeland Kim Ryrie, and based on a dual microprocessor computer designed by Tony Furse in Sydney, Australia. Even some consumer products were givenlight pens, in particular Thomson's TO7 and TO7/70 computers. Because theuser was required to hold his or her arm in front of the screen for long periodsof time, the light pen fell out of use as a general purpose input device. The first light pen was created around 1952 as part of the Whirlwind projectat MIT. The Whirlwind computer was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of  Technology. It is the first computer that operated in real time, used videodisplays for output, and the first that was not simply an electronicreplacement of older mechanical systems. Its development led directly to theUnited States Air Force's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) systemand indirectly to almost all business computers and minicomputers in the1960s.
Nowadays light pen is used for various purposes, out of which few of themare as follows,
A Light Pen allows you to make menu selections directly on your monitorscreen! No special overlays are required, which can degrade the image onyour monitor and require constant cleaning of the image field.
INTERACTIVE Light Pens provide ScreenDirectTM interaction with yourapplications for quick and precise input control. Light Pens, with stainlesssteel housing, hardened tip and optional armored cabling are virtuallyimmune to harsh environments.
Extend your range of creativity and design techniques. INTERACTIVE LightPens provide a more responsive feel and angle of degree, vital for today'smultiplatform graphics programs and digital technology.
INTERACTIVE is the major manufacturer of Light Pens for a variety of Healthcare applications: Hospital patient records, bookkeeping, financialanalysis, pharmacy management, dental patient records and numerous othertasks. INTERACTIVE has Light Pens for MS-DOS, all versions of PC/Windowsbased, and Sun SPARC stations.
The Inside Story: How GraphicsTablets And Light Pens Work 
Many programmers find graphics tablets and light pens among themost mysterious of peripherals, but the principles of both are reallyfairly simple. The graphics tablet is similar in operation to the more familiar gamecontroller paddles. A paddle consists of a variable resistor, a devicewhich can vary the amount of electric current passing through it. Forexample, rotating the paddle all the way clockwise would allow fullcurrent to flow; turning it completely counterclockwise would cut off allcurrent. A computer which accepts paddles must have circuitry whichcan read the varying current and provide a numeric reading which isproportional to the current, and hence to the position of the paddleknob. This is usually zero when the paddle is rotated all the way in onedirection, 255 when the paddle is turned completely in the oppositedirection. Joysticks for the Apple, Color Computer, and IBM function in asimilar manner, with one resistor on the horizontal axis and another onthe vertical.

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