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Any machine that feeds data into a computer. For example, a keyboard is an input device, whereas a display monitor is an output device. Input devices other than the keyboard are sometimes called alternate input devices. Mice, trackballs, and light pens are all alternate input devices.
An input device is any device that provides input to a computer. There are dozens of possible input devices, but the two most common ones are a keyboard and mouse. Every key you press on the keyboard and every movement or click you make with the mouse sends a specific input signal to the computer. These commands allow you to open programs, type messages, drag objects, and perform many other functions on your computer.
Since the job of a computer is primarily to process input, computers are pretty useless without input devices. Just imagine how much fun you would have using your computer without a keyboard or mouse. Not very much. Therefore, input devices are a vital part of every computer system.
While most computers come with a keyboard and mouse, other input devices may also be used to send information to the computer. Some examples include joysticks, MIDI keyboards, microphones, scanners, digital cameras, webcams, card readers, UPC scanners, and scientific measuring equipment. All these devices send information to the computer and therefore are categorized as input devices. Peripherals that output data from the computer are called output devices.
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