Esnault-Pelterie, an early 20th century French pilot, is credited with the invention of the joystick. The device was originally used for aircraft controls, although much about its mechanical development and the etymology of its name is debatable. Some people credit a Missouri aviator, James Henry Joyce, with the invention.
The stick serves as a means for humans to transmit their intentions into machines. Today, the joystick is used to navigate the interfaces of laptops and cell phones, play digital games, and mechanically guide planes, ships and cranes. Moving a joystick in a specific direction completes a circuit that sends the intended signal to a connected device.