# 40 percent 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 minimal number of keys. 2023-02-26

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

const xtotal = xletters + xdigits + xpunctuations;
console.log(xtotal);
// 93

// with shift
const xtotal_with_shift = Math.floor(xtotal / 2) + (xtotal % 2);
console.log(xtotal_with_shift);
// 47

// shift, backspace, escape, 4 arrows, ctrl, alt, win
console.log(xtotal_with_shift + 10);
// 57
```

Among the 40% keyboards, you need a way to solve the key-wanting problem. Usually, by hold down a modifier key or modifier combination to input some symbols.

For example, on Atreus Keyboard

• press Fn+n to input `1`
• press Fn+s to input `\$`
• press 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 (2020) are such examples.

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

## 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 (1981) , by removing obsolete keys such as Print Screen, SysRq, ScrLk, Pause, Break Keys, and redundant keys such as the numeric keypad keys, the insert key and Delete Key and right side modifier keys. [see Keyboard Modifier Keys, Short Survey] then they arrived at 60%, then that's when they went into a rut, and thought cutting down more keys is better, because by now they are accustomed to chord keys, WHICH, creates the problem of not enough keys. This is the start of down hill.

They are no longer designing a keyboard layout, but they are designing a half-assed input system. [see Design of Keybinding, Key Shortcut, Input System]

When you actually look into input systems, you have lots more possibilities, for example, Chinese Input Methods, or the auto-correction and smart word-completion in smart phones, where the input goes thru a transmutation brain. Or, real chording systems with physical key design that is actually suitable for chord, such as the piano keyboard input system or the steno. [see Using Piano to Type Text] [see Michela Chorded Keyboard] [see Stenotype Machine]

But the problem with these nerds is that they are in a techno-geeking trance. So they push onward in a simpleton style, by using a normal computer keyboard and keep adding 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. They think this is beautiful.

## Superior Race of Brain Damage

The result is, it take a month to learn before u can use a keyboard. and it gets you Repetitive Strain Injury for holding chord too much.

It's 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 ];`

or if u type Chinese [see Chinese Input Methods] , Russian [see Russian Keyboard Layout] . All these, poke a hole in these nerd's fantasy.

## 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 nobody else 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.

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. 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 can't say.