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Today, we are quite comfortable interacting with computers, but it wasn't always so. Back in the early development of modern computing hardware, the idea of expressive painting on a computer was unheard of. Let's take a look back at the shoulders of the computing giants that today's expressive Wacom Stylus and Tablets stand up on. Back in the late 40s, early 50s, we had something called the punch card. Punch cards were used to input instructions one line at a time into the computer, primarily because memory was so small, you couldn't put any more than that amount into it.
Once all the cards are input, the program was finally created. Move on a little farther and we get into the military's use of something called the light pen. The light pen was originally used with the SAGE Military Air Defense computer. It enabled the operator to be able to select individual targets on a screen. It was the first time that this was ever possible. Moving onto the early 60s, we now have the mouse. The mouse offers a direct interaction with the screen. Once you're able to interact directly with menus, you have much greater efficiency in controlling what you're doing on the computer.
Early CAD digitizers were designed to transfer pen and paper engineering plans to the computer. The idea being that in the transition from the hand-drawn plans of the former era, we were now starting to do this on the computer, and we needed some method to be able to input the earlier plans into a digital world. Next we get into the rise of desktop computers and the software that led to the development of paint and draw applications. Initially CAD digitizers were used with these paint applications.
Unfortunately there was no pressure, and the stylus was corded, which made it rather difficult to actually use as an expressive instrument. Wacom saw this opportunity and developed cordless pressure-sensitive technology. Thanks to a combination of military, academic, and commercial engineering needs, we now have an elegant technology for expressively communicating our emotions via digital means. And we are only at the early era of these tools. Who knows what means we'll use to visually express ourselves in the future?
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