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The Evolution of the Computer Keyboard

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the descent-by-natural-hunt-and-peck dept.

Input Devices 201

Lucas123 writes "As anyone who's typed on a virtual keyboard — or yelled at a voice-control app like Siri — can attest, no current text input holds a candle to a traditional computer keyboard. From the reed switch keyboards of the early '70s to the buckling spring key mechanism that drove IBM's popular PC keyboards for years to ThinTouch technology that will have about half the travel of a MacBook Air's keys, the technology that drove data entry for decades isn't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. This article takes a look back on five decades of keyboard development and where it's likely to go in the future."

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qwerty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854631)

And the funniest thing is that the current QWERTY key arrangement is here due to jamming issues with typewriters. It was designed to slow down the typing speed of old stenographers to resolve the jamming issue of old typewriters when they were typed on too fast.

Re:qwerty (3, Insightful)

telchine (719345) | about 2 years ago | (#41854699)

And the funniest thing is that the current QWERTY key arrangement is here due to jamming issues with typewriters. It was designed to slow down the typing speed of old stenographers to resolve the jamming issue of old typewriters when they were typed on too fast.

Actually, that's just an urban legend... http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/221/was-the-qwerty-keyboard-purposely-designed-to-slow-typists [straightdope.com]

Re:qwerty (1)

Vicarius (1093097) | about 2 years ago | (#41854811)

Have you read the article you linked? It pretty much says the same thing:

The QWERTY keyboard, so called for the top row of letters on its left-hand side, was devised to make things easy for the typewriter, not the typist.

and

To solve the jamming problem, Sholes and company, who had originally arranged their keyboard in alphabetical order, decided to put the most commonly used letters (or what they thought were the most commonly used letters) as far apart as possible in the machine's innards.

and

Of course, a superior system exists. It's called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, or DSK, after inventor August Dvorak, who developed it while a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Re:qwerty (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41854839)

Have you read it?

It was designed to keep the arms the made the most commonly used letters apart, not to slow anyone down.

Re:qwerty (5, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41854915)

You obviously did not read the whole article, because after he says all that he adds the following after someone sent him an article challenging what you quoted:

Baloney, say the authors of the article you enclose, S.J. Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis. They point out that (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect; (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY; (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years. Thus it may be fairly said to represent the considered choice of the marketplace. It saddens me to know I helped to perpetuate the myth of Dvorak superiority, but I will sleep better at night knowing I have rectified matters at last.

Re:qwerty (4, Interesting)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#41855193)

That isn't to say that Dvorak doesn't force you to alternate hands--it just does in the opposite direction. QWERTY is ~53% left-oriented, while Dvorak is ~54% right-oriented.

For myself, I type faster and more accurately on Dvorak (111 wpm vs 90 wpm), but that's probably due to spending most of my time in that layout. The main benefit I notice is less tangible, and that is that I suffer less fatigue if I decide to write for hours on end without a break.

Re:qwerty (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about 2 years ago | (#41855615)

I can type 50 wpm on my iPad touchscreen.

Re:qwerty (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854817)

Note: The legend part applies to the slowing down of typing speed.

this is correct >> And the funniest thing is that the current QWERTY key arrangement is here due to jamming issues with typewriters.

this is not >> It was designed to slow down the typing speed of old stenographers to resolve the jamming issue of old typewriters when they were typed on too fast.

The previous-to-qwerty arrangement did jam when typing fast. The qwerty-arrangement alleviated this problem and enabled typing faster speed than was previously possible.

Re:qwerty (1, Redundant)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#41854821)

You realize that the article you linked to agrees with the general story if not the specifics around stenographers:

To solve the jamming problem, Sholes and company, who had originally arranged their keyboard in alphabetical order, decided to put the most commonly used letters (or what they thought were the most commonly used letters) as far apart as possible in the machine's innards.

The design was then never changed, even though subsequent typewriter designs made it unnecessary.

Re:qwerty (3, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41854923)

Only if you stop reading before the author tells you that he was corrected by someone who had better information. The article ends like this:

Baloney, say the authors of the article you enclose, S.J. Liebowitz and Stephen Margolis. They point out that (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect; (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY; (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years. Thus it may be fairly said to represent the considered choice of the marketplace. It saddens me to know I helped to perpetuate the myth of Dvorak superiority, but I will sleep better at night knowing I have rectified matters at last.

Re:qwerty (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about 2 years ago | (#41855103)

I still want to see sources for the second one.

Re:qwerty (2)

del_diablo (1747634) | about 2 years ago | (#41855311)

Here is linked source [utdallas.edu] . Search for citation 16 and read onwards. The autor didn't read it properly. The article states: several things:
-QWERTY is a fast keyboard layout, and it has killed quite a few layouts because it is fast
-Dvorak is most likely a tad faster,
-The article that is the "counterpoint" of the article uses "If a typist has learned QWERTY, the cost of changing is likely too high compared to a "10% gain"*1
-The studies counterpoint is at citation 31, and seems a bit flawed, just as the NAVYs test

*1: Not actual numbers, a quote or anything, its a general expression

Re:qwerty (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41855337)

Perhaps if you went to the original post and followed the link [straightdope.com] and then followed the link [utdallas.edu] that the author of that article provided maybe you could discover these things.

Re:qwerty (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#41855283)

I always assumed something like this was the case, but, never really looked into it.

The whole "dvorak superiority" thing always seemed to be based on little to nothing. I mean... I learned the same ABC song as most everyone else.... but the order of letters hardly matters really, its just a memorization tool, and, of course, it helps make sure the list is correct when every student writes the letters in the same order.

Sure letters are used with different frequencies, so in a given language different letters have different frequencies of use... so it makes sense that some orderings for typing may be better than others for that reason.... but... letter frequencies and position within the alphabet are totally unrelated (or else we would start with E)

I mean yes, it may help in slightly decreasing the amount of time it takes to learn to touch type, but, thats a pretty minor benefit. How much of a difference would learning to tie your shoes with a few minutes less effort be, over the course of your life? You do a lot more typing than learning to type and in the end...any layout is just something you will memorize.

I would be shocked if any benefit from the letter order thats not based on (or happens to satisfy) placing frequently used letters in places advantageous to their quick use (as was mentioned... putting frequently used keys farther apapart may increase speed due to encouraging hand alternation)

Re:qwerty (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 2 years ago | (#41855433)

That was why I accepted what was said about qwerty vs Dvorak keyboards. Well, that and the fact that QWERTY is universal for every language that uses the Roman alphabet, while the Dvorak keyboard must be altered for each language (as frequency of use of each letter varies from language to language).

Re:qwerty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855709)

lol... QWERTY is not universal for the roman alphabet. Most countries have their own variations. The French, for example, use AZERTY.

Re:qwerty (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 2 years ago | (#41855997)

Having used a PC at a cybercaffee in France, I can attest to the truth of this statement.

They do not use the qwerty keyboard that I know and love.

Re:qwerty (2)

Relayman (1068986) | about 2 years ago | (#41854851)

Actually, your reference says exactly what the OP said: The design put the most common keys away from the middle to reduce jamming. It also goes to say that Dvorak's layout really isn't much more efficient.

Re:qwerty (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41855015)

It says the first sentence of what the OP says, but not the second, which is false: the jamming issue was solved by re-arranging the keys, not by slowing down typists, in fact the arrangement allowed faster typing. So it doesn't say exactly what the OP said.

Re:qwerty (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41855183)

Actually, your reference says exactly what the OP said: The design put the most common keys away from the middle to reduce jamming.

Except that that's not what the OP said, what OP said was that the design put the common keys away from the middle to reduce jamming by slowing down typists. What the reference says is that QWERTY was designed to move keys commonly used keys farther away from each other to reduce jamming by reducing the probability that a typist at any given speed would hit nearby keys in close enough suggestion for their arms to jam.

ObCarAnalogy: The OP's claim is wrong in the same way that it would be wrong to claim that some race cars include negative lift wings to slow down drivers because driving too fast causes cars to lose traction; it correctly identifies the problem that modification addresses, but incorrectly casts the modification as interfering with the operator's goal to solve the problem rather than addressing the effect which causes pursuit of the operator's goal to trigger the problem.

Re:qwerty (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41854885)

And the funniest thing is that the current QWERTY key arrangement is here due to jamming issues with typewriters. It was designed to slow down the typing speed of old stenographers to resolve the jamming issue of old typewriters when they were typed on too fast.

Actually, that's just an urban legend... http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/221/was-the-qwerty-keyboard-purposely-designed-to-slow-typists [straightdope.com]

Your article actually supports the "legend". Perhaps you are just looking for clicks or back links. Or you do not read.

Re:qwerty designed for... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#41854979)

Here all the time I thought Qwerty keyboard layout was designed for computer use of for quick Close, Save Select All, Cut, Copy & Paste commands.

Re:qwerty designed for... (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 years ago | (#41855031)

Well, of course the Cut/Copy/Paste were all chosen as they were BECAUSE it was on a QWERTY....

    Hey, waitaminnit! Say, you almost got me there!

Re:qwerty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855973)

I don't see how your link disproves it. The BS being called is that Dvorak is superior; I'm not advocating it as I never used it.
The reason for Qwerty sticking around is that it is generally OK for typing speed, not the fastest, but by the time a "better" arrangement of keys was introduced, the typing centers were so heavily invested in equipment and training of Qwerty typewriters there was little incentive to re-tool.

Down with QWERTY! (3, Insightful)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about 2 years ago | (#41854635)

Free your hands from the illogical tyranny of Remington's terrible legacy!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard [wikipedia.org]

Re:Down with QWERTY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854707)

I don't know, it looks pretty effing weird. TypeMatrix 2030 USB - DV (US Dvorak English) keyboard [amazon.com]

Re:Down with DVORAK! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854713)

Free your hands from the logical tyranny of Dvorak's horrible legacy!

What we really need is randomly newmerically labeled virtual keyboards that are used in the future!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LCARS [wikipedia.org]

Re:Down with QWERTY! (1, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 2 years ago | (#41854785)

Switched 11 years ago and haven't regretted it once.

Re:Down with QWERTY! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854819)

I understand where QWERTY came from. So how can you call that a DVORAK keyboard? It looks like a "PYFG keyboard to me.

Re:Down with QWERTY! (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41855139)

It came from the keyboard designer's name: August Dvorak [wikipedia.org] .

It's really too bad that Qwerty is lot more catchier than Dvorak. Mr. Qwerty probably suffered a lot of bullying as a child but thanks to his catchy name his design won out in the end and thus his legacy will remain with us for millennia (until we get cybernetic man-machine interfaces).

Re:Down with QWERTY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854829)

See also "Programmer Dvorak Keyboard Layout": http://www.kaufmann.no/roland/dvorak/ [kaufmann.no]

Space cadet keyboard (1)

walshy007 (906710) | about 2 years ago | (#41854647)

To this day I still want a space cadet keyboard.. so hard to find, and so many meta keys.

Re:Space cadet keyboard (1)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41854895)

To this day I still want a space cadet keyboard.. so hard to find, and so many meta keys.

A real nerd hacks his own [stevelosh.com] . This one is very mac-oriented, but it shouldn't be too hard to build a new keymap for your Linux box. Windows might be a bit harder.

Re:Space cadet keyboard (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41854983)

Sure, but where are you going to find beige and blue keycaps?

Re:Space cadet keyboard (1)

menno_h (2670089) | about 2 years ago | (#41855277)

Sure, but where are you going to find beige and blue keycaps?

You'll probably have to relabel your keys anyway; might as well paint them.

Re:Space cadet keyboard (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 2 years ago | (#41855421)

It shouldn't be hard at all considering that there is an Arduino library for emulating a keyboard.

Microsoft Natural Keyboard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854665)

This was has been my favorite keyboard of all time. It's simply brilliant. Its only that recently it has been acting up. It's so sad because its the best keyboard in the universe.

You insensitive clod! (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#41854723)

In the universe??? Some of us have tentacles instead of fingers! Your puny keyboard is useless for us!

Besides, the damned thing doesn't even have a Linux key.

Keyboards are rubbish... (5, Funny)

telchine (719345) | about 2 years ago | (#41854667)

...eye prefer two ewes speech recognition in sted

Re:Keyboards are rubbish... (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 2 years ago | (#41854957)

Dear Aunt, Let’s Set So Double The Killer Delete Select All .

Re:Keyboards are rubbish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855209)

Well, at least the Subject is correct.

Re:Keyboards are rubbish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855881)

Agree. But it is hard to wreck a nice beach.

Missing links (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41854691)

No mention of any home computer keyboard. No mention of the PCjr and its infamous chicklet keyboard. No mention of the classic Apple Extended Keyboard. It's as if keyboard history went directly from the Model M to Dell Quietkeys with nothing in between.

Re:Missing links (4, Funny)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41854765)

It's ComputerWorld, did you really expect a *good* article?

Re:Missing links (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about 2 years ago | (#41854903)

But there have been no keyboards since the Model M.

Typed with joy on my Model M keyboard.

crap article is crap (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#41854935)

Indeed. We need to also remember how bad [pcworld.com] things can be when you try to cut corners - Atari 400, Tandy CoCo, the original Commodore Pet, Timex / Sinclair.

Re:crap article is crap (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41855373)

The submitter of that article obviously had never tried an Oric 1 [old-computers.com] or Sharp MZ-80K [old-computers.com] keyboard.
The Oric had really hard "line" keys.
The Sharp had so sharp keys they would cut you.

Re:Missing links (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41855081)

How is the Model M not a home computer keyboard?

They are still the best, since they don't die their period has not passed.

This one I am typing on is likely older than many slashdot posters.

Re:Missing links (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#41855247)

I had a Model M back in the day. It was nice, but it's gone. Right now I'm tying on a das Keyboard. I like it a lot, though I'll be honest--I type faster on Apple's laptop keyboards. Their short travel distance is more advantageous for me than a mechanical switch, it seems, even if the das is more satisfying to type on.

Re:Missing links (1)

dubbreak (623656) | about 2 years ago | (#41855987)

..though I'll be honest--I type faster on Apple's laptop keyboards...

Really? I have both a mech keyboard (same keyswitches as Das) and a macbook and I'm much faster on the mech keyboard. Travel length isn't that much if you are just hitting the keys until they register (i.e. click) rather than bottoming them out (which is kind of the point of a mechanical).

Re:Missing links (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#41855259)

Some of us are still stuck on a Model M.

Connected via a DIN-9 to PS2 to USB series of adapters.... and I have 2 spares in my garage should my original ever die.

There have been some experiments (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#41854857)

The weird split ergo keyboard that many folks either loved or hated comes to mind. I'm happy with my hybrid, a cheap Microsoft "comfort curve" that gives some of the alignment effect of the ergo-board without actually separating the keys.

I also had a really nifty folding accordion keyboard for my Palm Pilot a decade ago. After folding, it was locked up tight in its permanent hard case, and it was safer than the actual Palm (and about the same size.)

And now Microsoft's new integrated smart cover keyboards are a thing.

Whatever happened to the laser keyboard? [thinkgeek.com] I'm surprised it didn't take off.

Re:There have been some experiments (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41854965)

I like one Microsoft keyboard - the one where the keypad can be moved from the right side to the left.
That makes it possible to have the keyboard directly in front of you while still not stretching to reach the mouse.

The whole WASD for games was done because of this design flaw with the numeric pad on the right. If it had been on the left, we surely would have used 8456 instead.

I believe there are more gamers and mouse users than those unable to operate a keypad with their left hand, so I think it's time for a switch to left-hand-keypad becoming the default.

Re:There have been some experiments (2)

Nexzus (673421) | about 2 years ago | (#41854999)

You can pry my Microsoft Natural 4K Keyboard from my cold dead, non-carpal hands. I've dragged my current one through 3 jobs now, and I have a spare BNIB.

As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (2)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | about 2 years ago | (#41854865)

As I sit here typing this on a circa 1984 IBM Model M Clicky Keyboard!
The finest keyboard ever made.
I have had this one for >10 years.
None of the keyboard markings have worn off. Heh. Yes, you can still find them around.

They are still made (4, Informative)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#41854973)

A company called Unicomp still makes the Model M. They purchased the original tooling from IBM/Lexmark and make the keyboards in Lexington, Kentucky.

Re:They are still made (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41855097)

I thought they used the later toolings which were not as good. Do you know what model number M they are producing?

Re:They are still made (2)

sokoban (142301) | about 2 years ago | (#41855163)

I'm not sure, but if you can tell me how to tell the difference, I can find out for you. I use one of their Model M keyboards and they are just up the street from me.

Re:They are still made (3, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#41856027)

You do realize that this would make an awesome article for us keyboard nerds.

Especially if you videotaped it.

--
BMO

Re:As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 2 years ago | (#41854977)

I miss my old clicky keyboard. I have been meaning to pick up a modified USB model, but have not gotten around to it. PS2 to USB adapters don't work that well at boot time. We still use them for some of our lab equipment. I agree they are the best keyboards ever made.

Re:As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#41854991)

None of the keyboard markings have worn off. Heh. Yes, you can still find them around.

You're welcome. :) I used to work in an injection molding facility that made key tops, the a's, b's, 1's, 2's, space bars and whatnot. Back in the day, this was a two-part process, the guts of the key (the part that attached to the underlying switch as well as the character itself) were molded in one "shot", then the key itself was molded around that, in a contrasting color, of course. Since the characters were molded into the key, there was nothing to "wear off". The keyboard I'm using at the moment appears to be made that way, but most I own are just screen printed, including a pricier Microsoft piece. That one has blank home keys now.

Re:As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about 2 years ago | (#41855331)

Cool info. My das Keyboard has "laser-etched" keycaps, and I've always wondered how long that will last. I would have bought the blank version, but other people in the family would have freaked out at that. If only they weren't so expensive, I would buy another.

you can still get doubleshot keys (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#41855879)

And there are still new keyboards that use them.

Check out geekhack.org for all things keyboard.

Re:As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (2)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | about 2 years ago | (#41856207)

You probably made the ones for the IBM typewriters, I remember, "Double shot molded".
You see, our forefathers knew what was necessary, they made things to last.
Now, you buy a keyboard and in 6 months the home row keys are worn off.
30 or 40 years ago you'd buy a washer, dryer or refrigerator and in 25 years it was still working.
Now, you're lucky if it lasts 5 years. They know it too, they have MBAs at the factory working on cheapening the parts to make them fail, so you will buy another.
Whereas years ago, they'd *never* have sold you something that would not last. Our whole society is like that. It's sad.

Re:As I sit here typing on a 28 year old keyboard. (1)

jdschulteis (689834) | about 2 years ago | (#41856089)

As I sit here typing this on a circa 1984 IBM Model M Clicky Keyboard!
The finest keyboard ever made. .

What is with you Model M fans? If that's what you like, fine. Personally, I can't decide whether the biggest reason I can't stand them is the tiringly excessive force required to operate the keys or the deafening racket they produce.

Teletype Model 33 (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41854867)

I still have fond memories of this here gadget: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletype_Model_33 [wikipedia.org]

It made a hell of a racket, but the keyboard had this light, crisp touch . . .

And hell, it gave you a hard copy history of what you had done, and paper tape, on the side. Good for making confetti for High School Pep Rallies.

Swype has ... "Swyped" me away! (3, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41854929)

The biggest reason I have not returned to the iPhone is the lack of a swipe style keyboard. After adapting to it, I refuse to go back to pecking words out with my thumbs, so no iPhones until I can get swype. It has several advantages:
- Word entry without looking
- one-handed text entry (single thumb swipes out a word in the same time two could tap it, while being held in the same hand.)

Swype's implementation isn't flawless though. They haven't figured out it is about word shape. The biggest problem is the limited character set. On a phone in landscape, or anything bigger than a phone you should have a keyboard on one side and an alternate (numberic pad) on the other. Since we don't need to hit specific keys anymore, we can reduce the overall area dedicated to displaying the keyboard and just show one for reference (aiming) and determine the word by the shape traced out. Have a button for enlarging it for the odd word that isn't in the dictionary and you're done.

Once swype (or any other keyboard (swift key?) realizes that, we'll have the best touch keyboard we can have without a fill-size button board.

Re:Swype has ... "Swyped" me away! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855055)

I have Shapewriter, it doesn't seem to be on the app store anymore, but Path Input looks similar.

Re:Swype has ... "Swyped" me away! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855169)

You clearly haven't tried the MacBook Wheel [theonion.com] .

Keyboard evolution stopped with the Model M! (4, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about 2 years ago | (#41854933)

The true evolution of the computer keyboard stopped with the mighty, never-equaled, IBM Model M. Every "innovation" since then has been a poor compromise in comparison.

Re:Keyboard evolution stopped with the Model M! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855505)

Amen. I don't want to come off as a shill, so I won't name any brands, but I've got two keyboards (home and work) with mechanical switches similar to the Model M, and I can't stand when I have to use an inferior keyboard. There are a few companies out there producing great quality keyboards; typically they're going to cost $100-$200, but that's money very well spent.

Re:Keyboard evolution stopped with the Model M! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | about 2 years ago | (#41855925)

Yep. MX Black switches all the way and plenty of different manufacturers making keyboards with them. I went with a gaming company one as it was cheaper than my friend's Das. The biggest benefit to me is less fatigue. I don't have to bottom the keys out for them to register. Of course I find I'm also a bit faster on a mech.

Only downside is my office is beside the bedroom. I have to keep a dome keyboard on hand in case the wife is trying to sleep.

Re:Keyboard evolution stopped with the Model M! (1)

dubbreak (623656) | about 2 years ago | (#41856101)

Oops, meant blue not black.

Re:Keyboard evolution stopped with the Model M! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41855935)

I disagree. My old Model M had a short, coiled cord. My Logitech keyboard has no cord. I'd say that's quite an improvement, especially since I use the TV for a monitor and sit across the room from the computer.

mod UP (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41854947)

What we need is a "thought" interface... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 2 years ago | (#41854949)

where you can simply think what you want to "type" and the computer does it.

Heck, at least it'd spell the end of RSI. Some keyboard designs are better than others in this regard, but none actually prevent it entirely

Re:What we need is a "thought" interface... (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41854997)

You really really don't want that. I mean, can you think of how many lawsuits might result from ... Hey, look, that blond chick has really hot legs ... interjected thoughts ... I really need to go take a leak right now ... that happen in normal human thought patterns.

Re:What we need is a "thought" interface... (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41855195)

Advantage: Porn pop-up click-through rate increased by 800%



Disadvantage: Porn pop-up click-through rate increased by 800%

Touchscreen will never replace the keyboard (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#41854951)

only thing that will completely replace the keyboard and make it obsolete is direct brain-wave scanning.

Try Swype! (2)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 2 years ago | (#41855025)

I can enter text in Swype faster with one thumb than I can type (of course, I never learned to type and have to look at the keys while I peck away with 3 or four fingers).

They totally failed to mention modern mechanicals. (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 2 years ago | (#41855033)

Everything I have seen indicates that the newer Model M knockoffs-- aside from Unicomp, the ones using Cherry, Alps , or TopRe keyswitches.are gaining popularity more then jst a cult following. They did mention them but only briefly.

Move the CONTROL key back to where it was! (2)

mc6809e (214243) | about 2 years ago | (#41855045)

Having the CTRL on the bottom row is next to useless. And how many people use the capslocks key?

Putting CTRL back to where it was would make keyboard shortcuts easier to use.

Re:Move the CONTROL key back to where it was! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41855137)

You can make that change yourself. I do on every computer I use. I map CAPS-Lock to crtl and crtl to capslock on linux on OSX I use caps-lock for crtl and crtl for command. I also use a Model M that weighs more than my Air.

Re:Move the CONTROL key back to where it was! (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 2 years ago | (#41855529)

Some Matias keyboards place Ctrl on the home row where Caps Lock usually is, and the Caps & Num Locks down between the right Alt & Ctrl. There are also utilities available to remap Caps Lock to Ctrl, but I’m not sure they work on all keyboards I’m thinking of the old ones where Caps Lock is an actual mechanical toggle that remains semi-depressed when activated, like on a typewriter. Haven’t seen that feature in quite a while, come to think of it.

Premise is false. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855053)

I prefer "yelling at SIRI" to typing when using my ipad when typing prose like this. If I had similar functionality on my PC I would use it. It saves a ton of wear and tear on the hands. The biggest "drawback" is I find I need to speak with practiced diction rather than my usual drawl. Even with the mistakes I still find it faster and less tiresome.

Re:Premise is false. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#41855923)

I prefer "yelling at SIRI" to typing when using my ipad when typing prose like this. If I had similar functionality on my PC I would use it. It saves a ton of wear and tear on the hands. The biggest "drawback" is I find I need to speak with practiced diction rather than my usual drawl. Even with the mistakes I still find it faster and less tiresome.

Hrrumph. When I make a mistake, I want it to be my mistake. Not some random dribble trumped up by the misbegotten spawn of an Apple Newton.

Good article on how keyboards got flatter. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41855105)

It's a useful article on keyboard mechanisms, and it's a good discussion of the tradeoffs between thin keyboards and ergonomics. The history is weak.

There's no mention of key rollover, or "can you push a key before releasing the previous key"? Modern keyboards report a key down and key up event for each key, so rollover can be unlimited. Early keyboards struggled with this. The Selectric, and Teletype machines, were mechanically interlocked against multiple key-presses. Some early keyboards wouldn't handle two keys down at the same time at all.

The feedback issue was a big one. Some keyboards clicked, some had a "clicker" inside to create the illusion that they clicked, and some beeped, an annoyance which has returned with some touch screens.

It's amusing that iPad-like devices have reverted to a 3-row keyboard with multiple shifts. That's where Teletype machines were a century ago. The keyboard layout of an iPad [daringfireball.net] is very similar to that of a 1930s Teletype. [wikimedia.org]

Re:Good article on how keyboards got flatter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855589)

There's no mention of key rollover, or "can you push a key before releasing the previous key"? Modern keyboards report a key down and key up event for each key, so rollover can be unlimited.

Actually, USB keyboards only support at most 6-key rollover. I'm not sure why that is, and I'd love for someone to prove me wrong. My keyboard supports n-key rollover if it's connected via PS/2, but honestly I can't imagine any situation where 6-key rollover wouldn't be sufficient. I also paid a lot of money for my keyboard. The same limitation applies to all other high-end keyboards I've researched; n-key rollover is only fully supported on PS/2.

Most keyboards are actually much more limited, including a lot of those marketed as "gaming keyboards." Typically it's not bad enough that you'll notice in normal usage, but I've certainly been burned in FPSes and MMOs by bad keyboards with insufficient rollover; try crouching, moving forward, strafing left, viewing the scoreboard, and switching a weapon all at the same time, for example.

Re:Good article on how keyboards got flatter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855803)

Maybe they went 3 rows to save screen real-estate?

I don't know about you, but if my soft keyboard pops up and fills the entire screen so I can't see what I'm typing.. It's not that useful.

Old Farts and Model M's (3, Insightful)

xanthos (73578) | about 2 years ago | (#41855141)

When ever a keyboard article come along you get a bunch of old farts pining away about their venerable old Model M keyboards.

I know. I am an old fart and I have one. I love it but unfortunately it ruined me. I am totally unable to use a laptop keyboard.

They all suck. suck suck suck. The keys are in the wrong place, they don't feel right, and I keep hitting the effing touchpad with my thumbs and suddenly I am typing a porn url in the browser bar.

Now get off my lawn!

Re:Old Farts and Model M's (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41855229)

I agree, the keyboard I am typing on is likely older than some of the posters in this thread.

Model M or nothing!

Re:Old Farts and Model M's (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855499)

Lifting up Model M to look at label on bottom... 01APR89

Re:Old Farts and Model M's (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#41856113)

07-17-90

Re:Old Farts and Model M's (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41855547)

When ever a keyboard article come along you get a bunch of old farts pining away about their venerable old Model M keyboards.

Laptop keyboards today remind me of the old IBM 029 Card Punch http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keypunch#IBM_029_Card_Punch [wikipedia.org] . That keyboard had a very short action that just didn't feel right to me. Although, I have been able to adapt to laptop keyboards. My ThinkPad W520 is ok.

Now get off my lawn!

You young pre-punch-card-kids and your lawns . . .

It ain't the keys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41855153)

... it's their arrangement. A QWERTY keyboard was not designed to be ergonomic, it was designed to solve a very specific engineering problem: the most efficient layout to keep a typewriter's hammers from hitting each other.

The days when typewriters had hammers are far behind us. The QWERTY keyboard... less so.

More than happy (0)

A bsd fool (2667567) | about 2 years ago | (#41855399)

Very satisfied with current keyboard technology, more or less. The toughest thing for me is hunting for the perfect combination of qualities / technologies in a particular keyboard. As a developer I'm pretty picky about my keyboard, moreso than any other aspect of the machine, and there are requirements that just seem hard to fill these days.

1. Wired. No charging or battery changing for me. Tried it once, never again.
2. Full "104 key" layout -- full numeric keypad, separate navigation key area, etc. No giant enter key, no tiny backspace key.
3. No buckling spring nonsense. Noise-induced insanity levels in the office went down >9000% the day we dumped all those model-Ms in the trash.
4. No replacing of standard keys with "proprietary" keys.
5. No MS "natural" split type nonsense.


Those are the requirements. If I can get a few extra multimedia keys (specifically vol up/down and mute), that's a bonus. I've been throught a lot of them, and most seem to fall down in one or two categories. The last one I had and used for a long time was some backlit logitech thing. Great feel, but the "Fn" button and not-quite-standard numeric keypad layout killed it. Tried and returned a variety of "the bestest keyboard evarz!@" including Das Keyboard, Steel Series, and so on.

The two long-time favorites were an old Sun keyboard from a pizzabox (the feel was just perfect), and an even older Keytronics 122key which didn't have the best feel, but the programmable nature and button-swapping features were outstanding.

Today I'm pretty settled on my Lenovo SK-8815. Feel is just right, not too loud, all the keys and all in the right place. I bought a MS "Digital Media Keyboard 3000" (seriously, who names these things) the same day that looks good, but haven't tried it or even opened the package yet as the Lenovo has me very satisfied.

IBM Model M and Logitech LIK (1)

TigerPlish (174064) | about 2 years ago | (#41856145)

The two best keyboards i've had. I've put my M into storage because the LIK gives me just as much feedback minus the noise, and isn't some membrane abomination -- it's a scissors action. Key dip is halfway between an M and a laptop keyboard. The feedback is amazing. No ambiguity at all -- you either hit it, or you didn't.

That it's sleek and backlit and looks like it belongs in this century are bonus points. I don't think, however, that it'll live nearly as long in daily use as a model M, however, my LIKs are used heavily daily and here they are, three years later, no issues. Who knows, maybe they will last 15+ years.

I like the LIK so much I bought two, one for for work one for home.

Qwerty - Dvorak Argument / Gay Marriage Argument (0)

srobert (4099) | about 2 years ago | (#41856165)

The argument between the dvorak and qwerty advocates sounds like an argument over gay marriage. Look no one wants to force you to use dvorak, they just want you to have the option, ok?

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