pen-based computer, computer that uses software to enable it to accept handwriting or drawing as a form of input. A stylus, which may contain special electronic circuitry, may be used to write on the computer display or on a separate tablet. The earliest devices were limited to recognizing geometric shapes for computer graphics applications and neatly printed alphanumeric characters. Pattern recognition software has improved to the level where cursive input is now acceptable, especially in personal digital assistants , smartphones, and computer tablets, although such input is not always accurately interpreted by the software. Styluses now also may be used to create artwork as well as input alphanumeric characters and geometric shapes, and touchscreens permit a finger to replace a stylus in some cases.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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