Origins of the Joystick

Video Games article in the IHT. It's about the origins of the joysticks. I picked up the relevant part:

Robert Esnault-Pelterie. Yet millions of gaming enthusiasts, and crane operators and cellphone owners and even the captain of the world's largest, longest, tallest ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, owe the early 20th-century French aviator a debt of gratitude for his invention: the joystick. It was first used for aircraft controls, but much else about its origins - both mechanical and etymological - is a matter of debate. (...) "I would say that it was the 20th century's distinctive contribution to the interface between people and machines," said Tenner, who is the author of "Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity." He is documenting Esnault-Pelterie's unsuccessful patent battles with American manufacturers of similar devices in the fledgling days of aviation. (...) In fact, the joystick moved easily from the mechanical world of planes and cranes to the digitally mediated world of computers: from the red nub at the center of an IBM laptop, to the navigational pads on some cellphones and the mushroom-like thumb sticks that still occupy a central place, amid the buttons and triggers, on today's video game controllers. The joystick's translation of human movement into machine movement elegantly satisfies what Ben Bederson, the director of the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland, calls the three virtues of an input device, or device that feeds information to a machine: simplicity, efficiency and control. (...) As for the debate over who invented it, Esnault-Pelterie has an interesting rival. In 2001, after the H.L. Hunley, a Confederate-era submarine, was pulled from the waters off Charleston, South Carolina, archaeologists discovered that it had a sophisticated single-stick steering device.

Why do I blog this? Besides the fact that it's a recurrent story (european invention... us patents...come on europe wake up!), it's interesting to see how it evolves. Of course, I am dead interested into how it will evolve; whether tangible interactions would (or would not) be thrown to the market. Currently, the pad is the standard and does not seem to change a lot judging from what has been shown at E3.