Arcade Trackballs (was: Re: C64 Fuse?)

Steven Canning cannings at
Sat Sep 16 19:27:16 CDT 2006

> > As for patents; "  A patent provides protection for up to twenty years,
> > counting from the filing date (the date given with reference numeral 22
> > the front page). US patents with a filing date before June 8, 1995
> > protection for up to seventeen years counting from the date of grant
> > date given with reference numeral 45), or 20 years from the filing date,
> > whichever expires later. "
> Correct, but trackballs date to the 1950s.
> --
> Will

1950s would be the UNIVAC or the IBM 701 neither of which as I recall had a
trackball. Before we get into a pissing contest or questions of others
people's "legal"  lineage let's make certain we are using similar semantics.
By "trackball" I / we are talking about an "electronic" data pointing device
used to input data generally but not restricted to a computing device. Said
trackball utilizes a hard round sphere resting on two perpendicular shafts
which incorporate a type of shaft encoder ( quadrature light interrupter )
such that the speed and direction of the X and Y vectors of the "turning"
sphere may be resolved by the rotating shafts / encoders and used as a
digital input. The ATARI model CX22 I'm holding in my hand is such a device
and uses what looks like a billiard ball sitting on two shafts.

Please enlighten me as to what type of trackball was used in the 1950s ? I
am genuinely interested. Thank you.

Best regards, Steven

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