The Joystick

“Come turn me on, get it on. Baby, I’m your joystick. Your joystick baby…”
“Joystick”, The Dazz Band, 1983

Leave it to The Dazz Band to make one of the most iconic controllers of all time (if not the most iconic controller) sound just a little bit dirty.

To us Children of the 80s, though, a joystick was simply the portal into the wonderland that was the Atari 2600. A simple black rubber stick on a hard plastic base, accented beautifully by a blaze orange circular button. That’s all it was. And yet it’s still so beautiful that we’d like to go ahead an nominate it for inclusion in the Smithsonian Institute. Seriously. It’s just as historic as Dorothy’s ruby slippers, and they’re in there…

Developed by Atari for its 2600 game system, the joystick somehow did everything you needed it to do without any bells or whistles. If you really want a good laugh, compare it to today’s XBOX controller that’s loaded down with 2 triggers, 2 bumpers, 4 buttons, 2 sticks, and one directional pad.

We rest our case.

The Atari version was based on the aeronautical stick that pilots use to fly planes, but the origin of the actual word is still in question all these years later. The most viable claim seems to be from French aviation pioneer Robert Esnault-Pelterie, who is said to have first used the word “joystick” right around the turn of the century.

But enough with the history lesson. The simple truth is that the original joystick, the one that’s still certain to set many of our hearts (and fingers) a-flutter whenever we see it, is as pure a thing of 80s beauty as we can think of.

Except for maybe Heather Locklear. Talk about ‘beauty’– whew! And she could play with our joystick anytime.

Hmmm… seems like The Dazz Band might have been on to something after all.

We ♥ the Joystick.

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~ by weheart80s on August 9, 2011.

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