NEC M-System keyboards History

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

In 1983, NEC 日本電気 came out with a new keyboard and new Japanese input system, called M-system (M式), designed by Dr. Masasuke Morita at NEC.

M-system is 2 things:

  1. A physical keyboard design that has 4 or more thumb keys, and symmeric (typically have dedicated sections for left hand and hand).
  2. A efficient Japanese input system. It's a romanji input system. (you type English Letter then convert to kata (Japanese alphabet)) The English letter arrangement is optimized for kana.

Over the years, there are several M-system keyboard designs. Here's a list of them.

japanese ergonomic keyboards
[写真で見る歴史的なコンピュータ~「情報技術のエポック展」レポート【訂正版】 By Impress Corporation. At http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/article/20010313/ipsj.htm , accessed on 2013-01-21 ]
NEC NWP 98 p5bjf
NEC NWP 98

Reference

2020-05-06 Thanks to NimShiko [https://medium.com/@elderiomeersky] for correction.

Xah Keyboard Guide