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The Computer Input Devices

Once upon a time, the only way one could get data into computer memory, was through a keyboard. However, with the speed of technological advancement, newer and faster devices have been created. This helps one get loads of information transferred into the computer, without having to do much manual work.

What are Computer Input Devices?

These devices are hardware components that help you transfer information into a computer. Without them, your computer will be more or less like a television set. So an input device is any peripheral device that helps feed data and control signals to a computer. These devices can be broadly classified, according to the modality of input, discrete/continuous input, and the degrees of freedom involved. Some are classified according to their pointing ability, as follows:

  • Direct input devices, where the pointing is done directly in the space where the cursor is seen. Examples are touchscreen pointers and light pens.
  • Indirect pointer examples are a trackball or mouse.
  • Pointers for touchscreen, where the positional information is absolute or relative, when the mouse is lifted and positioned according to need.

List of Input Devices

These devices help in manipulating data on a computer. The following are some of the most commonly used input devices.

Keyboard: The oldest and most widely-used computer input device is the keyboard. It is available with desktop computers, laptops, etc. The computer keyboard contains all the alphabetical and numerical keys for input of data and commands. The keyboard is generally connected to the computer with a wire, but nowadays, wireless keyboards are also very common.

Mouse: The small hand-held computer device that helps make selection and navigation of the screen easy, is the mouse. The mouse displays a cursor on the screen that serves as a guide for opening files and folders, as well as making selections. The mouse, like the keyboard, is either connected with the computer through a wire, or has a wireless connection.

Stylus: The tablet uses a pen-like computer input device known as a stylus. This helps one write on tablets or touchscreens like a pen. Some tablets and styluses have buttons, that make their usage as a mouse possible. Many latest tablet models allow the user to use their fingers, instead of a stylus.

Joysticks: If you are an ardent fan of gaming, then you may be aware of what a joystick is. This is a movable stick with a button or two, that helps one control the movements of characters in a game. Many latest joystick models come with different buttons to help you make complex movements, with just a push of your fingers.

Scanners: Scanners help you make virtual photocopies of your documents or even a photograph. You can copy a digital image of the document you wish to copy, and save it on the computer, or take prints. This copy can be edited by running a graphics program.

Headsets: Headset devices have an earphone, as well as a microphone. This helps you record your voice, dictate data, or even send commands to the computer. Some headsets help you keep your hands free for working on different tasks. You can even add voice recognition software, so that only your voice will be accepted by the computer to dictate commands.


There are different devices that help you share information with your computer in different formats. The following are a few examples that help you digitize images and videos, from other devices, into your computer.

Video Input Devices

  • Web cam
  • Image scanner
  • Digital camera
  • Barcode reader
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 3D scanner
  • Laser rangefinder
  • Video capture hardware
  • MIDI Keyboard

Medical Imaging Devices

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized Tomography (CAT Scan)
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Ultrasonography

These are some of the devices that help you store data from other devices into your computer. Technology continues to come up with more advanced modes of data transfer, as computing becomes an integral part of our lives.