Input Devices

An input device presents data to the processing unit in a machine-readable form. Although the keyboard is a common input device for a small computer, a system may also support various other input devices such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR), mark sense reader, etc.

Key board

The keyboard is very much like a standard typewriter keyboard with a few additional keys. The basic QWERTY layout of characters is maintained to make it easy for the trained typist to use the system. The additional keys are included to perform certain special functions such as loading a program, edition a text, etc. These are known as function keys that vary in number from system to system.

Optical Character Recognition

Often abbreviated as OCR, optical character recognition involves reading text from paper and translating the images into a form that the computer can manipulate. An OCR system enables you to take a book or a magazine article and feed it directly into an electronic computer file.

Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)

An MICR can identify characters printed with a special ink that contain particles of magnetic material. This device particularly finds applications in banking industry. Since the MICR system can recognise only certain character styles, the characters have to be accurately formed.

Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)

Optical mark recognition, also called mark sense reader, is a technology where an OMR device senses the presence or absence of a mark, such as pencil mark. OMR is widely used in tests such as aptitude tests.

Bar Code Reader

These devices are generally available in super markets, bookshops, etc. Bar-code readers are photoelectric scanners that read the bar codes or vertical zebra striped marks, printed on product containers. Supermarkets use a bar code system called the Universal Product Code (UPC). The bar code identifies the product to the supermarket's computer which has a description and the latest price of the product. The computer automatically tells the Point of Sales (POS) terminal what the price is.

Digitiging Tablet

This is an input device that enables you to enter drawings and sketches into a computer. A digitiging tablet consists of an electronic tablet and a cursor or pen. A cursor (also called a puck) is similar to a mouse, except that it has a window with cross hairs for pinpoint placement, and it can have as many as 16 buttons. A pen (also called a stylus) looks like a simple ballpoint pen but uses an electronic head instead of ink. The tablet contains electronic field that enables it to detect movement of the cursor or pen and translate the movements into digital signals that it sends to the computer. Digitiging tables are also called digitizers, graphics tables, touch tables or simply tables.


Scanner is an input device that can read text or illustrations printed on paper and translate the information into a form that the computer can use. A scanner works by digitizing an image - dividing it into a grid of boxes and representing each box with either a zero or a one, depending on whether the box is filled in. The resulting matrix of bits, called a bit map, can then be stored in a file, displayed on a screen and manipulated by programs. Optical scanners do not distinguish text from illustrations, they represent all images as bit maps. Therefore, you cannot directly edit text that has been scanned. To edit text read by an optical scanner, you need an optical character recognition (OCR) system to translate the image into ASCII characters. Most optical scanners sold today come with OCR packages.


Mouse is a device that controls the movement of the cursor or pointer on a display screen. It is a small object you can roll along a hard and flat surface. As you move the mouse, the pointer on the display screen moves in the same direction. Mouse contains at least one button and sometimes as many as three, which have different functions depending on what program is running.

Light Pen

Light pen is an input device that utilizes a light-sensitive detector to select objects on a display screen.

Speech input devices

Speech or voice input devices convert a person's speech into digital form. These input devices, when combined with appropriate software, form voice recognition systems. These systems enable users to operate microcomputers using voice commands.