(1) A vertical, flashing bar used as a pointer for entering text.|
(2) The small up-facing arrow on the "6" key (shift-6) on a typewriter keyboard. Also called a "hat," it is used as a symbol for several different operations. The mathematical expression 2^12 means 2 to the 12th power. It is also used as an exclusive OR operator (see XOR), and it is sometimes found as a symbol for the control key; for example, ^Y means Ctrl-Y.
Sitting like a hat on the "6" key, the caret has become a multi-purpose symbol.
This screen shot from WordStar, a popular word processor in the 1980s, shows the command menu at the top. All commands were initiated by holding down the control key, which was symbolized by the caret (^).