Control Key and Capslock Key Positions

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Do older keyboards have Ctrl key at the position to the left of A?


IBM 2741 Printing Terminal, 1965

Has capslock on the left of A.

DEC VT52 Terminal, 1975

We have Ctrl CapsLock A in the same row, in that order.

DEC VT100 Terminal, 1978

We have Ctrl CapsLock A in the same row, in that order.

Ann Arbor Ambassador 60 Terminal, 1982

We have Ctrl CapsLock A in the same row, in that order.

Commodore 64, 1982

It has Shift Lock besides A. Its Ctrl key is at the PC keyboard's TAB key position.

Apple IIe, 1983

All Apple II series (started in 1983) have Ctrl besides A.

Apple Macintosh, 1984

All Apple Macintosh series (started in 1984) have CapsLock besides A.

Apple Standard Keyboard M0116, 1987

Ctrl besides A.

Lisp Machine Keyboards, 1980s

All Lisp Machine Keyboards ⌨ have Ctrl on the left of space bar. The CapsLock is somewhere on the lower left corner.

IBM PC Keyboards

The original IBM PC (1981) and IBM PC XT (1983) keyboards (they are the same keyboard) has Ctrl besides A

The IBM PC AT (1984), some of its keyboard has CapsLock besides A, some has Ctrl besides A.

After that, all have CapsLock beside A

After IBM PC AT, after 1984

After IBM AT, vast majority of keyboards are PC compatible keyboard as we know today, and CapsLock is where it is today. There are only a few exceptions: The Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard and Happy Hacking Keyboard and many other Ergonomic Keyboards have their own arrangement (such as moving Ctrl to the thumb position.)


Michael Lockhart [] adds the following:

I used to swap between using Masters at school and playing on my friend's Amiga… both computers had both of these keys on the home row before A, but swapped 😉

This article is inspired by a comment from “noahspurrier”, :

[Does old computer have Control on the left of A, but later Microsoft screwed it?]

This is false. In fact, the first IBM PC's had the Ctrl key to the left of the A. Later on, IBM released the IBM PC/AT with a CapsLock favored keyboard. Other people blame Microsoft because they pushed all those other useless keys on the world.

There is also a bit of a myth that the old mainframe keyboards were consistent in putting the Ctrl key to the left of the A. Actually, the original PC keyboards were the anomaly. Prior to the PC most printing and display terminals had the CapsLock in the position where it is today. This includes classics such as the DEC VT52 and VT100 terminals; IBM data display terminals such as the IBM2741 and IBM5253. Many of IBM's early small computers that predate the IBM PC had a mix of keyboard styles. Many non-PC personal computers of the time had the CapsLock to the left of the A: TRS-80, BBC Micro, Osborne 1, Commodore Vic-20, and Commodore C=64. The Apple II series had the Ctrl key in the proper location to the left of the A key, but sadly, the original Macintosh did not — it was afflicted with the CapsLock (and this was before the IBM PC/AT went to the Enhanced keyboard). The Atari computers had the proper Ctrl key, but their keyboards were horrible membrane things. The BeBox had CapsLock; Next had Ctrl.

[by “noahspurrier”, , from a comment on The Idiocy of the Happy Hacking Keyboard.]