Trends in keyboard design: Who started what?

mr_a500

18 Aug 2019, 01:25

vometia wrote:
17 Aug 2019, 12:59
Random comment about spherical vs. cylindrical which is that it may have been at the behest of the typists. I've mentioned on my MX Black Impressions topic that the gf borrowed my keyboard with the SA profile and didn't care for it. The main reason is because she has long nails which would catch on the top edge, something that seems to happen less with cylindricals. I keep my nails short so it doesn't bother me; I'm also clumsier than her so I prefer the more bowl-shaped keys!

Completely anecdotal so it may have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the rationale of the design. But it's good enough to put it on Wikipedia. :D
I didn't consider that. (never having had long nails myself)

I did notice that in movies and TV before the 80's, secretaries often used pencils to dial rotary phones - possibly because their long nails would snag or break.

Findecanor

18 Aug 2019, 02:22

I once had a female bank clerk who touch-typed numbers on a keypad with the tips of her nails. I wonder if that is common.

BTW. This discussion reminds me of the Petticout 5: A computer for women. (Yes, that's Oscar-winner Olivia Colman)

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Muirium
µ

18 Aug 2019, 10:12

Cylindricals as long nail friendly, or rather less straight up hostile, is an idea which feels right. Perhaps actual users, who were so often women, were what IBM and friends had in mind when they stopped weighting spacebars like the things were the safety trigger for a jackhammer, too?

(But won’t someone please think of trigger discipline? Give them a chance and they’ll be double spacing!)

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vometia
irritant

18 Aug 2019, 11:21

:D

Awesome. For a second I thought that was actually legit considering some of the stuff I've seen. Even now companies are still making "for women" stuff, even including medical equipment, which is the same as the stuff for... well, it's never described as "for men", curiously, but the only difference is that the female version is pink. But it was fairly convincingly Judith Hann-era Tomorrow's World.

I once let my nails get "long" (actually not very) but that was a pretty brief experiment due to the oft-mentioned clumsiness, since long nails just enhanced it. Decided once was enough experience for this lifetime.

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depletedvespene

19 Aug 2019, 00:18

AlainSouloumiac wrote:
15 Aug 2019, 09:44
I participated in many ways in keyboard designs.
In an official report to the French Government published in 1983, I recommended to standardize keyboard layouts and study the adoption of a universal keyboard based on Dvorak or Marsan layout. The major purpose of this reform was to diminish users' stress, facilitate the training and diminish the colossal losses related to typing mistakes.
In January 1984, two working groups were established by AFNOR to prepare the new standards. As French Manufacturer were hostile to such changes, I convinced the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Labor to launch a pilot standard plan. Mr. Yves Neuville, was appointed expert to study the real needs of the users. The report made by the expert was rejected by AFNOR because "not compatible with ISO standards". Mr. Neuville and I were sent by the Ministry of Industry to attend the ISO meeting which took place in Berlin in 1985. The Neuville layout was immediately adopted by most keyboard manufacturers and later became the ISO 9995 standard.
Thanks for your comment. If I may ask:

- How much of Neuville's report was codifying extant practices and how much was actual changes, new in the report?
- Were there any ideas that were considered but not added to Neuville's layout?
- With the benefit of hindsight, what changes would you consider to make to that report?

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AJM

19 Aug 2019, 10:13

@vometia:
It took me a surprisingly long time to understand, how it was possible, that modern notebook keyboards became acceptable. One factor was certainly - people with long fingernails.
Now that I know, that you sport properly maintained nails, I can - with good conscience - recommend a keyset with MT3 profile for your new keyboard, if you like it even a bit more retro and sculpted than SA. (You can be sure, that this keyboard would not be monopolized by your partner. :D )

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Muirium
µ

19 Aug 2019, 14:09

As I linked in the news section:
Muirium wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 12:49
Bloomberg has a well illustrated wee article about their keyboard history…

This part at the end is telling, not just of them but in trends across the industry:
Today’s current model reflects a more standard key mechanism and typist-feel to address evolving customer preferences who are accustomed to their home PCs and laptops.
Users want what they’re used to, in their laptops, wherever it goes. Chiclet membranes everywhere! But yes, all too credible.
Better is different, and different is weird.

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vometia
irritant

24 Aug 2019, 13:18

AJM wrote:
19 Aug 2019, 10:13
@vometia:
It took me a surprisingly long time to understand, how it was possible, that modern notebook keyboards became acceptable. One factor was certainly - people with long fingernails.
Now that I know, that you sport properly maintained nails, I can - with good conscience - recommend a keyset with MT3 profile for your new keyboard, if you like it even a bit more retro and sculpted than SA. (You can be sure, that this keyboard would not be monopolized by your partner. :D )
She still likes her ancient Thinkpad R40's keyboard, in spite of its totally flat profile and... er, I dunno what it has in it. Some scissory things. Cherry MYs? Not very durable keycaps though: I mean yeah, she used it a lot, but the legends have worn off half of them and a good number have significant indentations from her typing. And that's in spite of her being a touch-typist, unlike me (I guess we're summed up by our respective instruments too: she plays piano, and plays it well; I play bass, and play it... less well).

Never heard of MT3 and I'm curious. It may be potentially too much even for me but obviously I need to find out!

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Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 16:41

Matteo’s own design, based on IBM beamspring caps. They are hard to find, and a cruel suggestion!

Image

Also unavailable in English, for you human ruffians.

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vometia
irritant

24 Aug 2019, 19:25

Oh yeah, I saw the elvish thing when I was looking them up.

If they must insist on being made of unobtainium, I guess at least I can slightly console myself with having used proper beam-spring keyboards when they were still in active use. Even though I had no idea at the time of how special they were (green-screen twinax terminal connected to something horrible) as I had no appreciation of keyboards or... well, anything much, they were still very obviously wonderful to type on.

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AJM

24 Aug 2019, 20:52

Concerning availability: There is a group buy running for a MT3 set just now (in a slightly garish colour scheme): https://drop.com/buy/drop-zambumon-mt3- ... keycap-set
(If you were really interested in the profile, but wouldn't want to commit to a group buy just yet, I could lend you a 60% set compiled of left-overs, although they wouldn't have perfect UK legends - more an ISO US with a wisp of UK.)

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Muirium
µ

24 Aug 2019, 22:39

You mean the white and yellow set, behind the registration wall they pop up? From what I can see, it’s not too garish and might work well with a white case. Though I’m not mad about the font.

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AJM

24 Aug 2019, 22:53

Sorry, I forgot (after registrating), that there is a registration wall.
This link might be better then: https://zambumon.com/portfolio/mt3-serika/

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 06:29

Damn you both! I've had to do a pre-order. :D Impulsive, me? I guess I'm still sore that my 19" rackmount cab turned up broken and I can't console myself with more shoes as they're already spilling out the wardrobe and I've already been snarked at for making the bed look like Pratchett's luggage with its millions of feet, so keyboards bits seems to be filling in my "in need to buy something!" retail therapy. No I'm not especially rich, but being agoraphobic I don't "waste" money on pubs or holidays!

Edit: oh, yeah, the point wasn't just that it was the key profile in question but that I actually really like the colour scheme too, and actually quite like the font. It does seem reminiscent of the beam-springs but as I've said before, my memory is not 100% reliable so it may be more of a case of "looks right". But it is centred, reasonably big and not some aberration involving italics and/or serifs.

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Muirium
µ

25 Aug 2019, 09:47

How much was it?

I just had a look at AJM’s Zambumon link, and it’s quite a pretty set indeed. I’m still not in love with the typeface, though it’s tasteful in its way. I just prefer larger legends which better fill the keys, and a stern, austere, assertive look in fonts in general. The alphas are pretty nice, it’s the mods which put me off doing like you and ordering before I think about it! Text mods are tricky. Besides the (icon!] arrows, they all look a bit too small to me. But yeah, it’s a nice set. I understand your haste!

Image

By the way, IBM’s original was much more hokey.

Image

But I’ll defend icon mods forever.

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 10:22

It worked out to USD$145 in total including postage (base set, modifiers, UK ISO kit, arrow keys and black spacebars) with a US$10 discount, though as I forgot to use my credit card my bank will sting me with a bad currency rate and a foreign transaction fee. And then I'll also get hit with import VAT, which they don't always get right and the post office's handling fees which at about £8-13.50 IIRC for rubber-stamping the documents and theoretically loaning you some money for a day or two is a rate that would make a loan shark blush. So once everyone's had their cut I'm probably looking at £160. Ouch.

The beam-spring I was used to using appears to have been courtesy of the 5251 twinax terminal, the thing that looked a bit like a DEC VT100 on (a lot) of steroids and was ludicrously heavy. It certainly needed a solid desk to take its weight and the clunker still made it shake! I'm still not 100% sure what it connected to, possibly something like an IBM System/36 running RPG-based applications I think. Dull as dishwater but actually quite good at its job, unlike the HP monstrosity they replaced it with. Anyway, the layout was different to that thing (I'm guessing that's off a 3278?) and was basically the same as an XT.

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Muirium
µ

25 Aug 2019, 10:39

Yeah, I just searched DT for 3278 and found Halsaint’s pic. The version you used is the ancestor (and the blame!) for the PC / XT layout Model F to come. Needless to explain, I prefer the 3278. They all used the same typeface though.

When does that group buy ship? I’m in America again come October. I’m guessing it’s all later than Halloween though. Which might make for an epic wait in customs as well as fees. Those swines will be buried with the new workload from suddenly foreign Europe.

Anakey

25 Aug 2019, 11:02

keysets and keyboards are normally sent by drop by air so they normally get to the uk and through customs quicker then if they were sent by sea. The cost is the same but at least it is payment online rather then waiting for a slip at the door from RM for 2 days before they finally deliver

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 11:31

The layout seemed to make more sense on a large IBM system but just seemed insane on the PC. Even at the time it looked weird. Never used a 3278; would've been nice paired with a System/370 running VM which was actually a pretty decent interactive system, especially compared to bloody TSO.

Didn't check when it'll ship: I figured it was best to leave it as one of those things that arrives when it arrives.

The RM/PF thing can be sped up marginally by pestering them on Twitter for a reference number to pay online, since obviously it would be too easy if you could simply input the tracking number (which they change once it arrives in the UK anyway to throw you off the scent) but they're so inefficient they can't do so until it's arrived at the local delivery office because... reasons. I'm sure that, much like the banks, they're actually becoming less efficient as technology becomes more widespread. See also stuff like signed-for delivery which used to track the letter or parcel at every stage (like basically all other postal services seem to do as standard) but now they'll only inform you if it arrived. Still, at least they're better than DHL who are pretty much guaranteed to destroy anything they handle.

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AJM

25 Aug 2019, 11:52

@vometia:
Apart from the shoes - I can totally relate to your buying motives. :)
(Estimated ship date is Feb 10, 2020 btw.)

This is also my first proper group buy, I'm partaking and I don't want to make you anxious, but I've read, that the safest payment method is indeed a credit card. It apparently has something to do with the fact that the prices can get lower - the more people order a specific kit. And this "refund" can confuse other payment systems, which can result in orders being cancelled.
And should you change your mind and want to add or remove a certain kit to your order, they recommend to cancel the whole old order and make a new one.

Concerning 5251 terminal: I already had the keyboard and later also bought the monitor as a sort of decoration for it. I hope I will finish cleaning it in 2 weeks. And yes, "ludicrously heavy" is about right. :shock:

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 12:51

Slightly longer wait than I'd expected, though far from the longest! Though it may be worth me cancelling and resubmitting assuming I don't just end up having to pay a bunch of bank charges anyway... hopefully the transaction will simply be cancelled with no further faffing about. But, y'know, banks.

In hindsight, I guess I'm lucky to have used the 5251 if not so lucky to have moved it (fortunately not by myself, I'm pretty sure that would've killed me). At the time I was jealous of the much more space-age swivelly terminals the other office had; but since we were spares (student job at a local factory) we got the older and more indestructible stuff! I'm not sure which model they were, looked a lot like a 3178 with the big heavy base-unit with the distinctive red switch, but as the system was twinax and they're coax I suspect it's unlikely. Whatever they were, if they were just a twinax version of the same thing it looks like they didn't have beam-spring keyboards.

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AJM

25 Aug 2019, 13:12

Since you mentioned 5251 and XT-style keyboard layout, I would have thought you mean this one:
5251.jpg
5251.jpg (249.16 KiB) Viewed 532 times

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 14:40

Yeah, that's the creature! My back hurts just looking at.

The swivelly things in the other office looked like this, but must've been some twinax equivalent. I guess that'll be a Model F keyboard, it's too little for a beam-spring.

Image

Edit: actually, if I bothered to look at the other pictures I'd see this particular keyboard is a Model M.

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AJM

25 Aug 2019, 16:22

The 3178 should definitely be a model F. I would think IBM got confused with their stickers in this case.

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 17:34

I thought it was a bit early as I'd just sort of randomly assumed it appeared with the PS/2 or thereabouts, but maybe this thing was its origin? Anyway, as much as I love the buckling-spring keyboards, even more than 30 years later I can still remember the awesomeness of typing on a beam-spring.

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 18:08

Ah, think I've identified the swivellicious terminal: it seems to be a 5291-2, which also seems to imply the famous "Bigfoot" keyboard.

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AJM

25 Aug 2019, 19:44

Nice! I have a soft spot for the "Bigfoot". It's such an elegant keyboard, although its USP - the low height - is somewhat lost, if its extremely long feet are extended. And using these feet, seems to have been the norm as I have seen in this promotional video for the System/36 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cUeMyrdD8M).

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vometia
irritant

25 Aug 2019, 20:24

They are quite impressively long legs. Certainly longer than mine.

But it's not a beam-spring, and the 5251's keyboard has a certain charm in that it looks a bit like a VIC-20. Albeit one with 3" of armour plating.

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vometia
irritant

27 Aug 2019, 17:19

Trends and beam-springs. Happily it seems this beam-spring layout didn't catch on. I'm not going to say "I'm sure there was some logic behind it" because it's clearly absurd.

Image

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depletedvespene

27 Aug 2019, 17:26

vometia wrote:
27 Aug 2019, 17:19
Trends and beam-springs. Happily it seems this beam-spring layout didn't catch on. I'm not going to say "I'm sure there was some logic behind it" because it's clearly absurd.

Image
Well, this IS a "data entry" layout, which has its own set of rules. I've seen it in other keyboards as well, not just in beamsprings.

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