Xah Keyboard Blog 2018-09
writing about keyboard
started to trickle into actually amassing and writing about Keyboard History ⌨.
Keyboard History ⌨
Added tens of photos in past month, and started to get a sense of keyboard evolution since 1960s. Keyboard history is a black whole. Well actually, not really. Math is, a hole.
Actually, working on keyboard makes me feel bad. It's petty. A petty thing. Writing comp lang tutorials is bad enough. A dismal petty fak complexity mostly of social causes due to programer idts faks. Dear god, when am i gonna be a real mathematian? God: neva!
IBM PC Keyboards
history of alt key
The history of the Alt key is a mystery to me still. I bet Marcin Wichary https://twitter.com/mwichary knew the answer.
recently i learned Meta key first appeared on the SAIL keyboard. (hope am correct) I'm not certain the date of SAIL, but must be between 1963 and 1974. SAIL keyboard also has a key labeled ALT. The SAIL became Knight Keyboard and became Space Cadget and other lisp machine keyboards. But in later ones, some of them has Alt Mode instead of Alt. Some also have Alt Lock. But some don't have any type of Alt key, e.g. PN 364000, PN 365407, and Xerox 1109.
it'd be nice if someone can tell us the history.
Also, the Alt on SAIL keyboard is the earliest Alt key i've seen.
The first other apart from lisp line that has Alt i found is: IBM PC model 5150 Keyboard, 1981
now i think the entire modifier business started on lisp machine keyboards, except Shift and Control. The meta alt or super hyper evolved into Mac's Cmd and Option. Alt Graph key may also be evolved from the Alt on lisp machines. The Window key of Microsoft may be inspired from Mac, and Microsoft invented the Menu key (but may be inspired or copy from some Xerox stuff.) Also, keep in mind that the way Alt works in Windows is not the typical modifier. When pressed by itself, it invokes menu, as a leader key of a key sequence. When pressed with other, it call commands, and can also insert chars similar to Alt Graph key. .
todo down the road:
- look at some of the lisp machine manuals. Find out what the “Alt” key or “alt mode” are. Ask old lispers and emacsers.
- check, if the lisp machine's “alt” key is parent of the “alt graph” key idea. Namely, to insert alternate character such as ö.
- find the first non lisp line keyboard that has Alt. e.g. look at IBM's line. e.g. IBM PC model 5150 Keyboard, 1981
- try to find history of Microsoft's Alt key.
- in general, find the original concepts associated with alt and other modifier or special key. is it to insert alt char, or invoke menu? Then, trace out a directed graph of how they became Apple's cmd, opt, Microsoft Windows alt, and menu keys. And the Compose key, and Alt Graph key.
[see Alt Graph Key, Compose Key, Dead Key]
See also: A Curious Look at Emacs's One Thousand Keybindings
IBM Selectric (new page on its own)
Modern Selectric Keycaps
Lisp Machine Keyboards
much update. and the following on their own pages
emacs keyboard history (work in progress)
Control Key and Capslock Key Positions in Old Keyboards (major rewrite)
many of the following, i added a keyboard layout diagram, or their user manuals.
Apple Keyboard History
Apple Keyboard History ⌨
updated. and created the following new pages.
discovered romer g keycaps on amazon
DEC VT100 Terminal (added a keyboard layout diagram)
Guide to Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms (minor updated. Added Romer g liner, logitech RX clicky, and other update)
here's another wireless mechanical keyboard. Looks like they are beginning to appear amazon
now, finally, there's wireless mechanical gaming keyboard.
Touch-Typing in Japan
In Japan, the touch-typing rate even among college students is 15 percent. This rate is much lower than the 85 percent of American college students.
from [Graduate School of Maritime Sciences: Is Typing in Roman Letters the Reason for the Low Proficiency of Japanese Language Typists? By Kobe University. At http://www.kobe-u.ac.jp/en/NEWS/topics/2014_06_13_01.html ]
See also: Japanese Keyboard Layouts
TRON Operating System, TRON Encoding
added to TRON Keyboard
Pirixx is a German company. Seems promising. Before, i thought it's a cheap nameless brand.
See also: Trackball History
Doctor Who Keyboard
Design of Math Symbols Input System (minor update)
Programable Keyboards with Onboard Memory
updated on why programable keyboard
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