Talk:Light pen

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Not a laser pointer[edit]

A light pen is not the same thing as a laser pointer. -- Zoe

It was a blank entry anyway - I didn't remove or move any text. write it or delete it if I was wrong. I'm trying to clear up some of the stubs - ATM there are fifty entries with a zero character list so any that can be made redirects or removed should be. ~KJ

Date of first use[edit]

The first light pen was used around 1957 on the Lincoln TX-0 computer at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. it was first reported to the public in 1969 by Ivan Sutherland.

When merging Lightpen and light pen, one had: The first light pen was used around 1957 on the Lincoln TX-0 computer at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory. the other had: it was first used in 1969 by Ivan Sutherland.

Which one is correct. I think:

  • Lincoln TX-? (0, 1, or 2)
  • Ivan Sutherland
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory

are correct, but i cant find which one it should be, or the date tooto 16:36, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Ivan Sutherland[edit]

Ivan Sutherland made many contributions to computer graphics but the light pen is not one of them, nor did he "first report it to the public." It was used in the SAGE air defense system (developed by Lincoln Lab) in the 1950's. The IBM 2250 announced in 1964 came with a light pen and that feature was not considered innovative at the time. Also see the article on light gun.

--agr 11:38, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

What is this lightpen[edit]

a light pen is pointing input device that contains — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:37, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

"guns" on arcade machines[edit]

Would I be correct in thinking that the guns used in certain arcade machines (the sort where you stand and literally shoot at the screen) work on the same principle?

If so, perhaps the article could mention this.

You would be mostly correct, however there is already a link to Light Guns in the article in the See Also section. -Branin

I think the common arcade gun is some distance away from screen, it doesn't really touch it which would be necessary for light pen to detect small brightness differences during CRT scanning. A natural way to implement them would be joystick. (talk) 20:00, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Vector displays[edit]

I seem to recall that the Vectrex had a light pen peripheral. Anyone got a clue as to how that worked on a display which doesn't raster? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:57, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Looking at this video the resolution looks pretty low, so maybe the vectrex is strobing a grid pattern at low brightness to tickle the pen. Kaleja (talk) 18:41, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

Replaced by the mouse[edit]

Would it be relevant to say that the light pen was replace by the mouse? It seems like they both serve the same purpose with the mouse being more comfortable to use. Perhaps it should be mentioned in the article? --MadDawg2552 (talk) 16:29, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

No, light pens can also be used in circumstances where you don't have a surface to move a mouse on, like with a portable or wall-mounted screen. Modern replacement would more likely be a touchscreen.. -- Alwin —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:46, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

It's perhaps unfair to say the light pen was replaced by the mouse, since the light pen was never ubiquitous. However, you could liken it to the video 'format wars' in that keyboard and mouse became the de facto standard for computer input. Aalthough comfort may have played a role, this was probably more for technical reasons since a light pen has to be tightly synchronised with a video display. (talk) 10:21, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

The Lincoln Wand was not a Light Pen[edit]

The Lincoln Wand mentioned in RFC 1 was an ultrasonic 3d input device, not a light pen. The first light pen appears to have been developed as part of the Whirlwind (computer) project in 1952 (see and picture at,2542,t=light+pen&i=46079,00.asp (labelled as a 'light gun' but fitting the description of a light pen). --Chris Tyler (talk) 00:38, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

LCD light pen / CMI Series 30a[edit]

After watching the youtube video [1] about the CMI Series 30A, it's pretty clear from watching that what they are calling a light pen is nothing of the sort, but is actually a wacom style magnetic resonance device. IF you watch that video, and notice how he can move a mouse cursor by hovering over the screen and then tap to 'click', it works identically to a wacom input device.

The basic principles upon which a light pen works simply don't work with a LCD, so I really don't see the claim that this device uses a light pen as being techincally accurate. I think the statement was much more marketing than technical accuracy.

Benklop (talk) 16:10, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^