40percent Keyboard Layout and Lobotomized Input System

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

There is a particular idiotic trend in 40% keyboard layout design, that aint keyboard layouts but lobomitized input systems. This page tells you the story.

There exist so-called 40% keyboards, meaning, they are 40% of a normal computer keyboard's key count, meaning, they have about only 40 keys on the keyboard. It's popular among the Do It Yourself keyboard nerd community. Classic example is Atreus Keyboard.

Since the keyboard only have 40 keys, you have not-enough-keys problem. English has 26 letters, plus 26 CAPITALS, plus digits 1234567890 plus 31 punctuations [see ASCII Characters] , that's 93 keys. Now you might use Shift to reduce them in half, so, need 48 keys. Plus keys such as Backspace Escape arrows plus Ctrl Alt ❖ Window. Together, minimal number of keys you need is 57.

// calculate the minial number of keys. 2023-02-26

const xletters = 26 * 2;
const xdigits = 10;
const xpunctuations = 31;

const xtotal = xletters + xdigits + xpunctuations;
// 93

// with shift
console.log(Math.floor(xtotal / 2) + 1);
// 47

// backspace, esc, 4 arrows, ctrl, alt, win
console.log(47 + 9);
// 56

Among the 40% keyboards, you need a way to solve the lack-keys problem. Usually, by hold down a modifier key or modifier combination to input some symbols. For example, on Atreus Keyboard you press Fn + n to input 1. Fn + s to input $. Fn + - to input ..

But there began a trend to require key combination for input even just English letters. The T-34 Layout and Hands Down Layout are such examples.

witness this, you need to press c and k together to input q.

t-34 layout Jonas Hietala 2021-12-04 8Sqr
T-34 layout chord keys 2021-12-04 [T-34 Layout Review]

The Mutation of Keyboard Layout to Bad Input System

The mutation of physical keyboard layout design to bad input system happens like this. They began, by trying to improve a normal IBM PC Keyboards , then they realized removing redundant keys till they arrived at 60%, then that's when they went into a rut, and thought cutting down more keys is better. Which, creates the problem of not enough keys, and they think using chord is a solution. This is the start of down hill.

Because they are no longer designing a keyboard, but rather they are designing a input system. [see Design of Keybinding, Key Shortcut, Input-System] But they are too stupid to see that. When you actually look into input systems, you have lots more possibilities, for example, real chording systems with physical key design that is actually suitable for chord. E.g. The piano keyboard or the steno. [see Using Piano to Type Text] [see Michela Chorded Keyboard] [see Stenotype Machine] But the problem with nerd rut is they dunno. So they push onward in a simpleton style, by using a normal computer keyboard and keep cuting down keys and start to use chords. At first, chords for numbers and punctuations, but soon you need to type multiple keys to input a single english letter such as z.

Superior Race of Brain Damage

The result is, fuckup ur hand, and take half a year to learn before u can use a keyboard. But like linux fanatics, time is no matter to them. These young, typically student, have all the time in the world. It's super easy to show real world example of problems of their creations. For example, if u type a lot math

Solve[ a x^2 + b x + c == 0, x ];
{{x -> (-b - Sqrt[b^2 - 4*a*c])/(2*a)}, {x -> (-b + Sqrt[b^2 - 4*a*c])/(2*a)}}

, or if u not vim user, or if u type Chinese [see Chinese Input Methods] , Russian [see Russian Keyboard Layout] , or u not into DIY keyboard... All these, throw out these rut nerd idiot zoomer's creations. Their audience, r people like them. So, this is analogous to the unix/linux types, then among them archlinux gento, then more extreme build ur own linux.

Nerd in a Rut

These people are nerds in a rut. A creation rut, blind to the general purpose or goal of what keyboard layout is, digging a special grave for themselfs. To them, they think are creative. They create things that ONLY he, themselfs can use. No value to the general public. And even among us nerds who build DIY keyboards and use dvorak layout, 90% of us will not find their creation useful.

The computer keyboard keys, are not designed for chord. Look at piano keyboard, and steno. Again like i said, the reason these nerds started to do those neighbor keys chords such as d + f , is because, their simple minded narrow view pushed them into that direction and failed to realize it.

For example, that t34 guy. He has pages of statistics. And he start to use chords for some basic letters such as z. Then, did he, actually look into, given a 40 keys keyboard and english language, what possible chord system is the most efficient? Where is the statistics on this? He got pages of statistics on letters and bigrams, because, that's common knowledge these brainless nerds read about and know them. But anything actually new, such as, a systematic look at all possible 2 letter chords on a 40keys keyboard, and the ergonomic ease of the fingers, they have nothing to say.

40percent Keyboard

Xah Keyboard Guide