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An input device that utilizes a light-sensitive detector to select objects on a

display screen. A light pen is similar to a mouse, except that with a light pen you
can move the pointer and select objects on the display screen by directly
pointing to the objects with the pen.

A Light Pen is a pointing device shaped like a pen and is connected to a VDU.
The tip of the light pen contains a light-sensitive element which, when placed
against the screen, detects the light from the screen enabling the computer to
identify the location of the pen on the screen.
A light pen

Light pens have the advantage of 'drawing' directly onto the screen, but this
can become uncomfortable, and they are not as accurate as digitising tablets.
light pen
A light-sensitive stylus wired to a video terminal used to draw pictures or select menu
options. The user brings the pen to the desired point on screen and presses the pen button to
make contact. Contrary to what it looks like, the pen does not shine light onto the screen;
rather, the screen beams into the pen. Screen pixels are constantly being refreshed. When the
user presses the button, the pen senses light, and the pixel being illuminated at that instant
identifies the screen location.

Light Pen

Light pens provide a very precise pointing capability directly on the screen.

First Light Pen


This handmade prototype of a "light gun" in 1952 was part of the Whirlwind Project at MIT.
Subsequent devices were used to hone in on suspicious blips on the CRT in the U.S. air
defense system (see Whirlwind and SAGE). (Image courtesy of The MITRE Corporation
Archives.)
light pen An obsolete penlike input device that was used with a cathode-ray
tube display to point at items on the screen or to draw new items or modify
existing ones. The light pen had a photosensor at the tip that responds to the
peak illumination that occurs when the CRT scanning spot passes its point of
focus. The display system correlated the timing of the pulse from the
photosensor with the item being displayed to determine the position of the light
pen.
The light pen was used to draw items with the aid of a tracking cross. As the light
pen was moved across the screen, the part of the tracking cross sensed changes
thus allowing the direction of movement of the light pen to be ascertained. The
tracking cross can be redrawn to locate it at the expected new center of the light
pen's position and thus appears to follow the light pen.

A light pen is a computer input device in the form of a light-sensitive wand used in
conjunction with a computer's CRT display.
It allows the user to point to displayed objects or draw on the screen in a similar way to a
touchscreen but with greater positional accuracy. A light pen can work with any CRT-based
display and other display technologies, but its ability to be used with LCDs was unclear
(though Toshiba and Hitachi displayed a similar idea at the "Display 2006" show in Japan[1]).
A light pen detects a change of brightness of nearby screen pixels when scanned by cathode
ray tube electron beam and communicates the timing of this event to the computer. Since a
CRT scans the entire screen one pixel at a time, the computer can keep track of the expected
time of scanning various locations on screen by the beam and infer the pen's position from
the latest timestamp.

History
The first light pen was created around 1955 as part of the Whirlwind project at MIT.[2][3]
During the 1960s light pens were common on graphics terminals such as the IBM 2250, and
were also available for the IBM 3270 text-only terminal.
The light pen was used in the early 1980s. It was notable for its use in the Fairlight CMI, and
the BBC Micro. IBM PC compatible CGA, HGC and some EGA graphics cards featured a
connector for a light pen as well. Even some consumer products were given light pens, such
as the Thomson MO5 computer family as well as the Atari 8-bit and Commodore 8-bit home
computers.
Because the user was required to hold his/her arm in front of the screen for long periods of
time or to use a desk that tilts the monitor, the light pen fell out of use as a general purpose
input device.
A light pen is a small pen-shaped wand, which contains light sensors.
It is used to choose objects or commands on the screen either by pressing it
against the surface of the screen or by pressing a small switch on its side.
A signal is sent to the computer, which then works out the light pens exact
location on the screen.
The advantage of a light pen is that it doesnt need a special screen or screen
coating.

Light enters the lens of a light pen, where it encounters a photoelectric cell,
which converts the energy to a signal that is sent to the computer. The light is
obtained from the refresh of the CRT, and at the instant the light is generated,
the computer knows what location on the screen is being refreshed; this
information is coordinated with the signal from the light pen, and is subsequently
used by the graphics software to make a decision.