Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sticks of Joy

I can barely remember a time when people didn't know what a joystick was.  The most reliable origin stories for the word I can find online date back to the 1910's, when it was first used as an alternate name for an aeroplane's control stick.  Some sources cite "joyride" as an antecedent; others suggest a humorous double-entendre, due to the stick's customary placement relative to the pilot's body.

Today, the joystick has come and largely gone in the gaming world; the simple, all-purpose stick-and-button has been superseded by multiple thumb-sticks and D-pads on consoles, and by mouse and keyboard control on the PC, with flight simulators a wholly appropriate exception.

But there was a time a few decades ago when the word was unfamiliar and had to be taught -- from the 1981 textbook Computer Literacy: Problem-Solving with Computers:

The photograph features two Texas Instruments controllers, for use with the 99/4A home computers.  And I'm okay with the archaic "Joy Sticks" spelling; after all, to-morrow and birth-day were hyphenated not so very along ago.

But the inclusion of the yardstick, courtesy of SHARP HARDWARE, bothers me, and it's not just the blatant product placement.

Because I believe with every fiber of my being that it's not the size of your joystick.

It's how you play with it.

1 comment:

  1. ROFL! What a groaner! Ok here's one equally as bad...

    Early flight training manual...

    "Reach between your legs, grab the Joy Stick, and take off!"