Input device

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope
Trackball input device example

An input device is any hardware device that sends data to a computer, allowing you to interact with and control it. The picture shows a Logitech trackball mouse, which is an example of an input device.

The most commonly used or primary input devices on a computer are the keyboard and mouse. However, there are dozens of other devices that can also be used to input data into the computer.

Types of input devices


Although OMR cards and punch cards contain data, they are not considered input devices by themselves. It is the readers that interpret the cards that are considered an input device.


Drives such as a CD-ROM, DVD, floppy diskette drive, and USB flash drive are also considered storage devices.

What are the input devices of my computer?

Every computer comes with a keyboard and a mouse (touchpad with laptop), which are considered input devices. As far as other input devices, it depends on what was included with your computer and what is attached to it. The best method of determining all of the input devices your computer has is to go through the list above.

What does an input device send to a computer?

What an input device sends (inputs) to a computer depends on the device. Additionally, all input devices send data from the device over a cable or wireless transmission to the computer. For example, as you move a computer mouse, the data it sends to the computer is the X-Y axis movements that the computer uses to display the mouse cursor on the screen. You can see a live example of this on our x-axis definition.

Why does a computer need an input device?

Today, input devices are important because they are what allows you to interact with and add new information to a computer. For example, if a computer had no input devices, it could run by itself but there would be no way to change its settings, fix errors, or other various user interactions. Also, if you wanted to add new information to the computer (e.g., text, command, document, picture, etc.), you wouldn't be able to do so without an input device.

Hardware terms, HID, Input, Input/output device, Keyboard terms, Mouse terms, Output device, Pointing device