Vintage Ergonomic Keyboards

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This page is a gallery of exotic ergonomic keyboards. They are no longer made. For ones that you can easily buy, see: Ergonomic Keyboards Reviews: How to Chose a Ergonomic Keyboard.

Ergonomixx Mykey

Ergonomixx Mykey
Ergonomixx Mykey. (img src http://geekhack.org/…, , by hoggy)

This is a Ergonomixx Mykey. Hasn't been made for a long time. Can't really comment on how comfortable it is as the switches (MEI) are ghastly - very, very stiff. I'm hoping it's an age related problem, otherwise I can see (feel) why they didn't catch on. I like the idea of the function keys in a circle with the cursor keys in the middle, it seems to be an intuitive way of laying them out.

Underneath, it has 4 legs, so it can be tilted negatively (slopes down away from the user rather than up away from the user).

(from hoggy, , source: http://geekhack.org/…, )

Scythe Ergo Diver keyboard

Discovered this funky one recently.

scythe ergo diver keyboard boxed
“Scythe Ergo Diver keyboard”
scythe ergo diver keyboard
Scythe Ergo Diver keyboard
scythe ergo diver keyboard left
“Scythe Ergo Diver keyboard” left side

Very interesting new design. Notice that the keys for the right hand is vertically aligned, but the left side is somewhat staggered alignment. The keyboard is not symmetric. The ⇧ Shift key have different positions on each side. It doesn't have a Ctrl on the right side.

scythe ergo diver keyboard right
“Scythe Ergo Diver keyboard” right side

I'm not sure this is a good ergonomic keyboard, but i'm absolutely sure it is better than conventional flat keyboards. Interestingly, if you look at the box, it bills itself as a “ergonomic FPS (first person shooter)” and “MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game)” gaming keyboard. I think it's a bit crazy marketing. The most important feature of a gaming keyboard is many extra programable keys. This one has none, nor any other features of gaming keyboards such as LCD display, glowing keys, high-tech appearance.

The Scythe keyboard is around since at least 2003, but seems no longer in production. You may still get it in China or Japan.

Here's a review: 〔Scythe Co.'s Ergo Diver Keyboard By Matt and Brian. @ http://www.slcentral.com/scythe-keyboard-mousepad/

Japan NEC M-Type Keyboards, TRON Keyboard

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

For photos and detail, see: Japan M-Type keyboard, TRON keyboard.

Marquardt Mini-Ergo

marquardt mini ergo keyboard
“Marquardt Mini-Ergo” (1992) http://keyboardporn.com/others/marquardt-mini-ergo/

Northgate Omnikey Evolution Ergonomic Keyboard

Omnikey Evolution ergonomic keyboard 05187
Northgate Omnikey Evolution ergonomic keyboard. White Alps mechanical key switch. (photo by webwit img src)

A review. 〔Northgate keyboard repair By Steve Ferg. @ pythonconquerstheuniverse.wordpress.com…

Chicony KB-7000, Addison KB-7001, PC Reveal KB-7061

Addison Reveal keyboard 9aAPoGo
Addison KB-7001. Dated around mid 1990s. Key-switch used is ALPS. img src

〔➤ Guide to Computer Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms

Addison Reveal keyboard 02889
PC Reveal KB-7061 ergonomic keyboard. (photo by webwit img src)
Addison Reveal keyboard phaedrus2401-d338b5i
PC Reveal KB-7061 ergonomic keyboard. (photo by Phaedrus)

Humble Hacker Keyboard

humble hacker keyboard
“Humble Hacker Keyboard”

If a keyboard's name has the word “hack” in it, then i despise it already. See:

The Humble Hacker Keyboard is not in production yet, if it ever will be. Its homepage is at: humblehacker.com. Some detail about building this keyboard is at http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:6292

Here's some highlight of major problems with this design i see:

Good points:

You might be wondering where did keys like {[, ], {, }} went. Or, where's {\, |}. According to its creator, these are typed by pressing with one of the Fn1 to Fn4 extra modifier keys. I think this is good. The issue with these symbols is that, if you look at a conventional flat keyboard layout, or many International Keyboard Layouts, there are more characters than can fit the 4 × 5 matrix key cluster for each hand. For example:

 12345  67890
 QWERT  YUIOP
 ASDFG  HJKL;
 ZXCVB  NM,./
The 2 key clusters as 4 × 5 matrix for each hand. (shown using QWERTY layout)

It has 40 spots to map characters. Multiply by 2 for ⇧ Shift variation, you get a total of 80 spots to map characters. But written texts need more than 80 characters. For example, the ASCII (for English) has 95 printable chars. More is needed for European languages. For example: «¿¡¢£¥®© ÀÁÂÃÄÅÆ Ç ÈÉÊË ÌÍÎÏ ÐÑ ÒÓÔÕÖ ØÙÚÛÜÝÞß àáâãäåæç èéêë ìíîï ðñòóôõö øùúûüýþÿ». So, you need to add more keys to your keyboard for them.

The way conventional keyboards solved this problem is by adding 7 extra keys for the pinkies to the US standard PC keyboard:

`  12345  67890  -=
   qwert  yuiop  []\
   asdfg  hjkl;  '
   zxcvb  nm,./
Conventional layout in matrix format

Keyboards in Europe have more keys, typically one extra to the left of Z, and 2 extra to the right of ;. 〔➤ International Keyboard Layouts〕 Note that 2 extra keys to the right of ; is ridiculous. In such a keyboard, you have to extend your pinky far to the right to press the frequently used Enter ↵ key. (or, move your whole hand.)

Another solution for solving the extra characters is to use a modifier combination. The modifier to enter extra characters is usually known as AltGr key.

If you create extra physical keys for them, such as the {[, ], =, |} on conventional keyboard, they are far away from home row and pressed by pinky. Or, you need to place them in middle of keyboard, or at the bottom of space key. None of these are ideal.

If you use modifier key (AltGraph) as a solution, then the problem is that you now have to press a key combination for typing these characters, but your fingers don't have to fly about.

From my personal experience of extensive key mapping and macros and the need to type Math Symbols and Unicode Characters , i think the AltGraph solution is actually more ergonomic. It's faster to type and more comfortable. The drawback is it's a bit more complex and takes some time to memorize the key locations. A keyboard with special symbols printed in front of each key would solve that, but the extra printing makes it more costy to build.

Thanks to fangzhzh for showing me the Scythe keyboard. Thanks for boskom for reminding me the Humble Hacker keyboard.

PLUM keyboard

plum keyboard
“PLUM keyboard”

For more, see:

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