Stylus (computing)

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This article is about stylus pens used in computing. For the writing utensil, see Stylus.

In computing, a stylus (or stylus pen) is a small pen-shaped instrument that is used to input commands to a computer screen, mobile device or graphics tablet. With touchscreen devices, a user places a stylus on the surface of the screen to draw or make selections by tapping the stylus on the screen.[1] In this manner, the stylus can be used instead of a mouse or trackpad as a pointing device, a technique commonly called pen computing.

Pen-like input devices which are larger than a stylus, and offer increased functionality such as programmable buttons, pressure sensitivity and electronic erasers, are often known as digital pens.[1]

The stylus is the primary input device for personal digital assistants.[1] It is used on the Nintendo DS and 3DS handheld game consoles, and the Wii U's Wii U GamePad.[2] Some smartphones, such as Windows Mobile phones, require a stylus for accurate input.[3] However, devices featuring multi-touch finger-input are becoming more popular than stylus-driven devices in the smartphone market;[4] capacitive stylus, different from standard stylus, can be used for these finger-touch devices (iPhone, etc.). Also the stylus (S-Pen) is used in the famous Galaxy Note series manufactured by Samsung Electronics.

Graphics tablets use a stylus containing circuitry (powered by battery or operating passively by change of inductance), to allow multi-function buttons on the barrel of the pen or stylus to transmit user actions to the tablet. Most tablets detect varying degrees of pressure sensitivity, e.g. for use in a drawing program to vary line thickness or color density.

The first use of a stylus in a computing device was the Styalator, demonstrated by Tom Dimond in 1957.[5]

A smartphone being operated with a stylus. 
Samsung Galaxy Note series phablets come with an integrated stylus called S-Pen 
A Nintendo DS with its stylus. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Shelly, Gary B.; Misty E. Vermaat (2009). Discovering Computers: Fundamentals. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-80638-7. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Giz Explains: The Magic Behind Touchscreens". Gizmodo. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Charles Arthur (20 October 2009). "Windows Mobile: where's the love? And where's the sales figure?". The Guardian. London. 
  4. ^ Brandon, John (15 December 2008). "The Age of Touch Computing: A Complete Guide". PC World. 
  5. ^ Dimond, Tom (1957-12-01). "Devices for reading handwritten characters". Proceedings of Eastern Joint Computer Conference. pp. 232–237. Retrieved 2008-08-23.