Graphics tablet

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A graphics tablet (or digitizer, digitizing tablet, graphics pad, drawing tablet) is a computer input device that allows one to hand-draw images and graphics, similar to the way one draws images with a pencil and paper. These tablets may also be used to capture data or handwritten signatures. It can also be used to trace an image from a piece of paper which is taped or otherwise secured to the surface. Capturing data in this way, either by tracing or entering the corners of linear poly-lines or shapes is called digitizing.

A graphics tablet (also called pen pad or digitizer) consists of a flat surface upon which the user may "draw" or trace an image using an attached stylus, a pen-like drawing apparatus. The image generally does not appear on the tablet itself but, rather, is displayed on the computer monitor. Some tablets, however, come as a functioning secondary computer screen[1] that you can interact with images[2] directly by using the stylus.

Some tablets are intended as a general replacement for a mouse as the primary pointing and navigation device for desktop computers.


History and background

The first electronic handwriting tablet was the Telautograph, patented by Elisha Gray in 1888.[3] Elisha Gray is best known as a contemporaneous inventor of the telephone to Alexander Graham Bell.

The first graphics tablet resembling contemporary tablets and used for handwriting recognition by a computer was the Stylator[4] in 1957. Better known (and often mis-stated as the first digitizer tablet) is the RAND Tablet[5] also known as the Grafacon (for Graphic Converter), introduced in 1964. The RAND Tablet employed a grid of wires under the surface of the pad that encoded horizontal and vertical coordinates in a small magnetic signal. The stylus would receive the magnetic signal, which could then be decoded back as coordinate information.

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