A touchpad or trackpad is a pointing device featuring a tactile sensor, a specialized surface that can translate the motion and position of a user's fingers to a relative position on the operating system that is made output to the screen. Touchpads are a common feature of laptop computers, and are also used as a substitute for a mouse where desk space is scarce. Because they vary in size, they can also be found on personal digital assistants (PDAs) and some portable media players. Wireless touchpads are also available as detached accessories.

History[edit | edit source]

The first touchpad tablet was invented in 1971, by Hidekazu Terai and Kazuo Nakata at Hitachi's Central Research Laboratory. It used a data tablet as a touchpad, with Japanese writing character recognition, for use with a computer.[1] Touch-based tablet input later appeared in the Japanese electronic word processor industry in the 1970s.[2]

In 1976, Sharp's Takeo Hara, Takeshi Kasufuchi and Ko Ozawa invented an electrode-based touch input device, using electrode technology,[3] which was improved by Sharp's Hisao Komori and Makoto Shigeta in 1977, using electro-optical technology.[4] Sharp commercially introduced it with its Shoin WD-3000 word processor, released in 1979. It had touch-based tablet input, with a touch-pen used for entry.[5][2] This touch-based interface soon appeared in most Japanese word processors released from 1980 to 1982. A reason for this was because of the complexity of the Japanese writing system, with touch-based entry allowing typists to type faster. As better Japanese input methods developed for keyboards in the early 1980s, however, the Japanese word processor industry soon reverted back to keyboard entry.[2]

In 1979, the first touchscreen tablet was invented by a Japanese team at Hitachi consisting of Masao Hotta, Yoshikazu Miyamoto, Norio Yokozawa, and Yoshimitsu Oshima, who received a US patent for their invention.[6]

In 1984, Fujitsu released a touch pad for the Micro 16, to deal with the complexity of kanji characters, which were stored as tiled graphics.[7] In 1985, Sega released the Terebi Oekaki, also known as the Sega Graphic Board, for the SG-1000 video game console and SC-3000 home computer. It consisted of a plastic pen and a plastic board with a transparent window where the pen presses are detected. It was used primarily for a drawing software application.[8] A graphic touch tablet was released for the Sega AI Computer in 1986.[9][10][11]

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