(1) A pen-shaped instrument that is used to "draw" images or select from menus. Styli (the plural of stylus, pronounced "sty-lye") come with handheld devices that have touch screens, such as PDAs and video games. Some desktop computers also offer touch screens and styli.|
In some cases, the stylus must be used. In others, both stylus and fingertip serve equally well as long as the user's hands are not too large. See light pen and digitizer tablet.
PDAs and other handheld devices with touch screens typically come with a stylus. These two styli came with Palm organizers.
(2) The needle part of a phonograph cartridge, which typically contains a diamond tip. The stylus rides in the grooves of the phonograph record, picking up the vibrations carved into the vinyl, and is attached to a cantilever arm with a magnet or coils at the other end (see phono cartridge). A wide variety of cartridge styles has been used over the years, and there is a huge number of replacement styli available on the market. For more information, visit Jerry Raskin's Needle Doctor at www.needledoctor.com.
The steel needles at the top were used in old Victrola 78 record players like the unit underneath. They were later replaced with sapphire tips to last longer. The "needle" name obviously came from the long shape of the first styli. (Top image courtesy of Jerry Raskin's Needle Doctor, www.needledoctor.com)
The stylus on this Grado magnetic phono cartridge is diamond tipped. Vibrating in the vinyl record's groove, the stylus transfers the oscillations to the cantilever and magnets. (Image courtesy of Grado Laboratories, www.gradolabs.com)