A joystick is a PC peripheral or general control device consisting of a handheld stick that pivots about one end and transmits its angle in two or three dimensions to a computer. Most joysticks are two-dimensional, having two axes of movement (similar to a mouse), but three-dimensional joysticks do exist. A joystick is generally configured so that moving the stick left or right signals movement along the X axis, and moving it forward (up) or back (down) signals movement along the Y axis. In joysticks that are configured for three-dimensional movement, twisting the stick left (counter-clockwise) or right (clockwise) signals movement along the Z axis. These three axis – X Y and Z – are, in relation to an aircraft, roll, pitch, and yaw, respectively. Joysticks are often used to control games, and usually have one or more push-buttons whose state can also be read by the computer.
The Atari standard joystick, introduced with the Atari Video Computer System (VCS, later renamed the Atari 2600) in 1977, was a digital joystick, with a single fire button, and connected via a DB-9 connector. The electrical specifications of this became the de facto standard for digital joysticks for several years. Commonly used as controllers in first and second generation game consoles, joysticks eventually gave way to the GamePad game controller. Analogue joysticks were subsequently to become standard on video game consoles, greatly increasing the freedom of movement any given on-screen object may have.