Racal-Norsk KPS-10 Lisp Prototype Keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: .

The Racal-Norsk KPS-10 Keyboard, is build around 1984. It's a prototype only, that never went to production. It was intented for a new Lisp Machine.

[see Lisp Machine Keyboards]

Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 1
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 1

In 1984–85 a UK firm, Racal-Norsk, a joint subsidiary of Racal and Norsk Data, attempted to repurpose Norsk Data's ND-500 supermini as a microcoded Lisp machine, running CADR software: the Knowledge Processing System (KPS).

Racal-Norsk was a UK company, a symbiosis of British Racal Electronics and Norwegian Norsk Data. The objective was to make a multi-user Lisp Machine. I got the prototype from someone who was working with Symbolics system at the time and was press-ganged into working at Racal-Norsk in lisp software.

They built a Lisp Machine based on the Norsk Data multi-port processor (ND-570 and ND-550) and MIT ZetaLisp (circa 1984/5).

Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 3
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 3
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 2
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 2

The keyboard is probably the only one of its kind. One of the people who was working at the company at the time was Richard Stallman. Peter Richards was involved in the design of the keycaps. The objective was to make the ultimate lisp I/O experience, but this was the first and last prototype.

At the very time that the first Lisp image came up, Racal and Norsk pulled the plug on the company and fired everyone. The project was moth-balled and presumably sleeps in some dungeon to this day. It could have been something significant, and a ~20 man team worked away for 2 years to create a formal specification of MIT Zetalisp (for many the grand-daddy of Lisps). Racal-Norsk bought the worldwide rights to MIT Zetalisp outside the USA.

Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 7
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 7
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 4
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 4. Note the Caps Lock key and its LED. And the usual lisp machine keys Alt MODE Rubout Hyper Super Meta
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 5
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 5

The yellow nature isn't the tradional yellowed plastic from sunlight, it's the nature of the prototype material.

Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 6
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 6
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 8
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 8. Bottom.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 14
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard and optimal mouse.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 15
Optical mouse. The pad below is reflective surface, made of metal and sort of glass coating. You need the pad for the mouse to work.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 11
back of mouse. Seems to be made by Mouse Systems.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 9
Optical mouse.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 10
Optical mouse.
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 12
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 12
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 13
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 13
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 16
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 16
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 17
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 17
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 18
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 18
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 19
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 19
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 20
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 20
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 21
Racal-Norsk KPS-10 keyboard 21. Keycap and key switch mechanism.

All photos by webwit, at https://deskthority.net/keyboards-f2/the-lisp-keyboards-t98.html Used with permission.

All quoted text are written by webwit, at https://deskthority.net/keyboards-f2/the-lisp-keyboards-t98.html

Lisp Machine

  1. Lisp Machine Keyboards
  2. SAIL Keyboard
  3. Knight Keyboard
  4. Lisp Machine LMI-CADR keyboard
  5. Space-Cadet Keyboard
  6. Symbolics Keyboard PN 364000
  7. Symbolics keyboard PN 365407
  8. Racal-Norsk KPS-10 Lisp Prototype Keyboard
  9. History of Emacs and vi Keys
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