Random header image... Refresh for more!

Electric Curiosities: “Le Stick” Joystick Box

I’ve talked about Le Stick before, in a post I wrote about motion controllers from the early days of gaming.  It’s a slightly-phallic looking gravity controller, presumably using mercury switches or something like that to sense orientation.  Tilting it forward is like pushing up on the joystick, tilting it left moves you left and so on.

At least that’s the theory.  In practice, it’s more like you’re trying to play a game while having a seizure.  Up moves up and down moves right, and your character flails wildly in circles until it dies.  It’s a terrible controller.

I, of course, had to buy two of them.

But then, one day, I stumble across one that’s still in its box.  I don’t really need a third, but come on, IT’S GOT THE BOX!  I put in the minimum bid, wait three days, and it’s mine.  I didn’t know what I was in for.

It’s for the Atari 400/800, Atari 2600, and the Commodore Vic-20.  Apparently it once sold for $38.95, and I feel very, very sorry for the guy who shelled out that kind of cash in 1981 for this thing.

It certainly is “remarkable”.  It’s just that the remarks are generally sarcastic and negative.

LE STICK

The ultimate goal in microcomputer hardware.  Add more control and realism to your personal computer or home video game.1

With simple one-handed movements, you can maneuver your sights in any direction you want. 2 The large red push button on top provides a quick and accurate firing mechanism for better response time. 3

LE STICK™ will eliminate all the frustrations you experience with conventional joysticks or keyboards. 4

LE STICK™, the joystick of the future.

It’s gotta be good if it’s FROM THE FUTURE!

Wait…  Scratch that.  If this is the joystick of the future, I don’t want to see the future.  Please stop time so that I can stay here, where joysticks don’t suck.

LE STICK™ Features:

Easy to grip handle

One-handed operation

Motion detectors to sense hand movements

Large push button on top

“Squeeze-switch” to freeze motion

So far, this has all been typical marketing copy.  Nothing really special.  Although, I have to say that I wasn’t aware that there was the squeeze switch feature until I read this, not that it helps at all.

But then I looked at the artwork on that last panel and…  O M G

I say again:  OMG

Wow.  That has to be unintentional.  They couldn’t have actually…  Could they?  No, no…  I mean…  Really?

Really?

The hand even has hooker nails!  OMGLOLWTF.

It’s like the prototype was sent to the artist who had no idea what it could possibly be, so they assumed that it was some sort of high-tech marital aid and illustrated accordingly.  I mean, yeah, the thing is vaguely phallic in appearance, but I never thought they’d take it that far.

Of course, you really have to see the picture and the text together to get the full experience…

Well, I guess if the joystick is that bad, you gotta do something to get people to buy it…

  1. More control?  No.  And realism?  It’s still an Atari 2600.  It doesn’t change the fact that you’re playing a medium-sized square that shoots small squares at big squares. []
  2. I want to manuever my sights down.  Not right.  DOWN.  And you won’t let me do that. []
  3. You’re bragging that your joystick has a button?  Okay… []
  4. …while simultaneously introducing you to exciting new frustrations never found with conventional joysticks or keyboards. []

4 comments

1 AvSP { 06.09.12 at 08:53:59 [412] }

I had one of these back in the mid-1980s. It also came with a large sucker, a projection on the bottom of the stick fitted into a hole on the top of the sucker thereby (in theory) allowing you to use the stick like a normal joystick. The stick was absolutely hopeless eitherway, but was excellent for (ahem) “joystick-waggling” type games (or at least it was until it broke mid-race – probably exposing me to leaking mercury).

2 Tom Luque { 10.21.12 at 20:17:08 [886] }

Le Stick

I am Tom Luque, the inventor of Le Stick. I contracted with Pat Ketchem of DataSoft to build, market and name the joystick. This was the world’s first singlehanded, free floating, and also ambidextrous, hand controller for computers.
This joystick was best for fast action space flight battles, leaving one hand free for keyboard commands.
Pat refused to publish that this type of joystick was not suited for PAC Man type games.
The multi signals from the mercury switches were averaged out in fast action space games of that time.
I now live in the Pacific Northwest, and still inventing.

3 Tom Luque { 10.21.12 at 20:31:53 [897] }

The First generation of Le Stick included a central floating microswitch in the grip handle. Squeezing the joystick would deactivate any directional signals for a straight flight path. At some point, DataSoft later stop installing the central microswitch, (Probably to reduce cost).

4 ThomasSchrantz { 10.22.12 at 00:07:59 [047] }

I just gave it a whirl on StarMaster, and it does feel a lot less fidgety there. I can see how it might work with games that don’t need such precise control.
I hadn’t really thought of it as being a controller for computer games. I had a Quickshot with suction cups stuck to my chair for C64 games. Man, was that a pain… A single-handed joystick might’ve worked better.
I didn’t know about the cut-off switch until I got the box, which was well after I’d tried it out in that Yars’ Revenge video. I don’t think I ever went back to see how much of a difference it would make there. I’m tempted to find out now, though.

Anyway, thank you for posting, and I apologize if I was a bit rough on your invention.

Leave a Comment