Japan M-Type keyboard, TRON keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

The Japanese are truely the pioneer of keyboard design. All these are symmetric.


NEC Keyboard based on a then new Japanese language input system, called M-system or M-type.

NEC M-shiki keyboard NEC PC98 1992
«M-system keyboard with compromised layout for NEC PC98 from 1992. It has Alps yellows and very heavy grey on top left key. —hasu 2013-02-22» image source

Note that the M-system layout for English, has all vowels {E, U, I, A, O} for left hand. This is similar to Dvorak Keyboard Layout.

M-system is designed by Dr. Masasuke Morita at NEC in the early 1980s.

japanese ergonomic keyboards
«元日本電気特別顧問森田正典氏が考案したM型キーボード('83年~)。左に母音、右に子音を配置しキー配置の覚えやすさと、左右交互打鍵と複数文字列を単打鍵で入力できる複合キーにより、高速な日本語入力を実現したという。文豪などに搭載されたほか、PC-8801/9801用、Windows用が発売された» 〔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. @ http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/article/20010313/ipsj.htm
NEC keyboard pk-kb015 2 pk-kb015 NEC keyboard
«M-system keyboards designed by Masasuke Morita in 1983.» (thx to hasu, )

TRON Keyboard of Japan

TRON keyboard OKI front
TRON keyboard. image source 2560×1709

This is the keyboard for Japan's TRON Project. Not sure if this model is still being made.

TRON Keyboard Unit TK1 001 KeysUp-s1520x831
TRON Keyboard Unit TK1 001. image source 950×520 1520×831 1900×1039

Note the English letters printed in front of keys. It is the Dvorak Keyboard Layout.

The key's physical layout is a bit strange. On the left side, note the large gap between A and O. Same thing for the right hand on N and S. If you are typing English on this keyboard, that might be a problem.

A modern (2007) version of the TRON keyboard is the μTRON Keyboard.

utron keyboard
“μTRON Keyboard”. image source

See: μTRON Keyboard from Japan

A year 2014 version of the TRON keyboard is the Esrille New Keyboard.

Esrille keyboard M-system keyboard 2014-10-21
Esrille keyboard and M-system keyboard 〔source Shiki Okasaka

#新キーボード , NISSEとM式キーボード。

 日本語入力のため配列としてときどき紹介しているM式用のNEC製の純正のキーボード「楽々キーボード」とNISSEを並べて写真を撮ってみました。楽々キーボードは1995年にPC-9801用に作られたもののようです[1] 〔http://kbd.rzw.jp/alps/nec_pc-9801-98-s02/〕 。標準品としては、このモデルの後1998年に作られた「エルゴフィットキーボード」[2] 〔http://www.nec.co.jp/press/ja/9809/2401.html〕 が最後のM式キーボードになるようです。『1年間で2万台の販売を見込んでおります』とありますので、今でも実際に使われているものがありそうですね。

 M式は試作品の段階ではNISSEのように扇型のデザインで作られていた[3] 〔https://plus.google.com/+ShikiOkasaka/posts/HykmMyZMXnK〕 ものが、その『試作品に基づき,工業製品としての見地から改良を図っ』て、エルゴノミック要素は比較的強く残したまま格子状のデザインのPC-8801-KI[4] 〔http://www7.ocn.ne.jp/~hisao/image/8801KI.htm〕 として最初に製品化されて、徐々に写真のようなエルゴノミック要素の少ないものに落ち着いていったようです。TRONキーボードもオリジナルのエルゴノミック要素満載のものは標準品としては1991年のTK-1のみで収束していて、現在はエルゴノミック要素の少なくなったμTRONキーボードの方が販売されていたりするのと流れとしては似ている感じだったのかもしれません。

 NISSEは、『一個でも一万個でもなく「二〇〇個」を作る技術を』という奥山清行さんの著書[5] 〔http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/asin/4569809529/〕 に影響を受けて作ってきていることを以前書いたのですが、収束してしまったM式キーボードの最後の製品が『1年間で2万台の販売を見込んで』いたというのを見ると『「二〇〇個」を作る技術を』という言葉の意味が改めて伝わってくるようにも思います。


I tried to take a photo side by side NISSE as “Easy Keyboard” keyboard of genuine NEC-made M-type for which you are introduced from time to time as an array for Japanese input. Easy is like those made in PC-9801 for the 1995 keyboard [1] 〔http://kbd.rzw.jp/alps/nec_pc-9801-98-s02/〕 . As a standard, it was made in 1998 after this model “Ergo Fit Keyboard” [2] 〔http://www.nec.co.jp/press/ja/9809/2401.html〕 seems to be M-type keyboard last. We are right to be “we expect to sell 20,000 units in one year”, those that are actually used even now It seems there.

At the stage of prototype had been made in the design of the fan-shaped as NISSE [3] 〔https://plus.google.com/+ShikiOkasaka/posts/HykmMyZMXnK〕 things, “Based on the prototype, it is working to improve from the point of view as industrial products” Te, M expression The comparison ergonomic elements it is the product initially, it seems went to calm with less ergonomic elements such as photo gradually as [4] 〔http://www7.ocn.ne.jp/~hisao/image/8801KI.htm〕 PC-8801-KI design of grid-like leaving strongly subject. As a stream those of ergonomic elements packed original have converged only TK-1 in 1991 as a standard also TRON keyboard, towards the μTRON keyboard that became less of ergonomic elements and to them being sold now It does not may have been felt are similar.

NISSE Although I wrote earlier that it has been made to the influence book of Ken Okuyama's called “the art of making” two hundred individuals “without also one million units even one” [5] 〔http://www.amazon.co.jp/exec/obidos/asin/4569809529/〕 , meaning of the word “the art of making” two hundred individual “” is again Looking “expects to sell 20,000 units in one year” from that was a product of the end of the M-type keyboard you have already converged I think it also comes to.

See: Esrille New Keyboard

Some references about the TRON keyboard design:

Sukerutoron ST-2000 TRON Keyboard

Japan Sukerutoron ST-2000 TRON Keyboard

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