Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Sun Microsystems keyboard is one of the worst. The following shows the one that is the keyboard for Sun Ultra 5 computer (year 1998).

Sun Microsystem's Keyboard
Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard

This keyboard i used around 2000. (photo taken during that time) The key feel is mushy. It's using rubber dome switch.

[see Guide to Keyboard Key Switch Mechanisms]

Xah Lee Netopia office
My Office, 2001, at Netopia.
Sun Microsystem's Keyboard
Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard

Some interesting aspects:

I hardly ever use this keyboard or sit in front of this computer. So i don't know what these keys actually do. Not sure the Copy, Paste, etc keys actually work out of box in Solaris. I don't think most of these special keys do anything useful by default. The desktop on unixes at the time (CDE) is quite unusable.

DECwindows-openvms-v7.3-1
DECwindows openvms v7.3 1. (Year ~1998)
X11 on Solaris. [image source ]

This is CDE. This is how i remember X11, ~1999. Mac OS of the time, or even Windows, is ten times better.

[see The Unix Pestilence]

Most of the time, i just telnet/ssh from the PC running Windows NT, using a generic cheap PC keyboard. This Ultra5 is used as a server, it is one of the test bed for releasing our ecommerce software.

Sun keyboard
Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard. Note, the ⌫ Backspace is above Return key, and key ` is above it.

Meta Key

The key marked with a diamond (U+25C6: BLACK DIAMOND) is the Meta key, a key inherited from Lisp Machine's keyboards and today mostly known for its use in Emacs. Sun's documentation call this key Meta. This key is similar in purpose to the Command key ⌘ command on Apple computer's keyboards, or the Windows key ❖ Window on PC keyboards.

See also:

Compose Key, Alt Graph Key

sun keyboard ret
The Meta, ⎄ Compose, Alt Graph keys

Note the Compose key and Alt Graph keys. They are both used to input special characters such as é ä ç ¿ £ ¥ ©.

[see Alt Graph Key, Compose Key, Dead Key]

sun keyboard mid
Mid section close-up
sun keyboard top
Top indicator LEDS
sun keyboard right
Note it has keys for {sound level, screen brightness, power}.

The sound key and screen brightness keys seem funny to me, because i'm not sure these keys work out of the box on a typical unix workstation in the 1990s. Not sure if these machines typically have sound capabilities at all (For example, a sound card).

Sun Microsystems Type 7 Keyboard

Sun Microsystems type 6 keyboard d5e03
Sun Microsystems type 7 keyboard [image source imgur]

Hacker Lore Keyboards

  1. IBM Selectric
  2. History of Emacs and vi Keys
  3. Apple Keyboard History ⌨
  4. Space-Cadet Keyboard
  5. ADM-3A Terminal
  6. DEC VT100 Terminal
  7. IBM Model M keyboard
  8. Sun Microsystems Type 6 Keyboard
  9. Control Key and Capslock Key Positions in Old Keyboards
  10. The Idiocy of Happy Hacking Keyboard
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