A paddle is a sort of input device, common on early video game consoles and home computers, consisting of a handheld wheel with one or more fire buttons. Unlike dial boxes, which spin freely, paddles rotate through a fixed arc, with stops on each end.
Atari Paddle by Miguel Durçan. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
What's the origin of the name "paddle"? Externally, the controllers look nothing like the sort of hand-held paddles you would use to play table tennis, nor to the ones you would use to propel a canoe. I suppose the dial part of the device does vaguely resemble a paddle wheel, such as one might find on a larger ship, but it also resembles pretty much any other kind of wheel, such as the steering wheel on a car. And like a steering wheel, but unlike a paddle wheel, the paddle controller has a fixed range of motion.
Does anyone know who first gave the name "paddle" to this sort of input device and what their rationale was?