Happy Hacking Keyboard
|This article requires photographic illustration|
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|Branding||Happy Hacking Keyboard|
|Layouts||60-key modified US ANSI|
The Happy Hacking Keyboard (styled HHKB) is a family of rubber dome keyboards targeted towards computer hackers as well as UNIX users, with a seminal ultra-compact multi-layer layout. The original 1996 model and the subsequent Lite family use conventional membrane switches, while the Professional range introduced in 2003 moved to high quality Topre electrostatic capacitive switches.
Happy Hacking Keyboard was co-developed by PFU and Dr. Eiiti Wada. Dr. Wada is a Japanese computer pioneer as well as a emeritus professor at University of Tokyo whom suggested a compact/minimal keyboard layout for use on computers in favour of the various other keyboards that were commercially available at the time.
Dr. Wada noticed the changes with each and every release of Sun workstation comes with a keyboard that has subtle changes in the layout along with the lack of standardisation with keyboards in general. Dr. Wada had contacts in PFU and so the journey of HHKB design began with the first technical review.
In the first technical review, Dr. Wada proposed the idea of swapping the Caps Lock key with Ctrl key due to the very natured way of how UNIX treats case-sensitivity. In his paper he indicated and cross referenced for instance that when typing the 'ls' command, it is not similar to 'LS'. The 'ls' command on UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems is equivalent to a directory listing (on DOS/Windows it is similar to the command 'dir'). This change was implemented on a "Alpha keyboard". He later resented the idea of having number pads and arrow keys on the keyboard which further reinforced the idea of a more compact layout that is now only found on HHKB Professional2, HHKB Professional HG as well as early HHKB Professional and Lite variants.
Amongst the Ctrl key being swapped, the idea of having the Esc key is too far away on a normal keyboard which he disliked. As a result of the Ctrl key also being swapped, it seemed harder to hit Del key in addition to the fact with the Sun Type 4 keyboard having the Backspace key above the Yen and bar (¥ |) keys. So a backspace was favoured instead.
TODO: Better translations for reasons with Meta and Function keys.
This then progressed onto another technical review of the keyboard in which Dr. Wada named it the "Aleph keyboard". At this point in time Sun Type 3 and Sun Type 4 had good layouts. The idea of inverted trapezoid (for mainly the alphabetical keys) in staggered formation was better to follow it. The inverted trapezoid layout for alphabetical keys would mean a transition from the JIS layout to ANSI layout whereby the Enter key for instance is shaped differently compared to JIS (JIS being using the same shape as ISO layout for Enter key).
TODO: Some more reasons explained by Dr. Wada but cannot be understood.
At this point in time Dr. Wada wrote a poor piece of article in a magazine however PFU understood what Dr. Wada wanted with his ideal layout. Dr. Wada then focused on working out the dimensions of the keyboard which was 297mm × 105mm which was more or less fit within the dimensions of a A4 paper. Dr. Wada decided to retain the standard key pitch which was 3/4 inches or 19.05mm.
TODO: More translation work needed.
At this point in time Aoyama suggested the location of the Fn key which enabled access to Function and arrow keys.
TODO: Finish the remaining abstraction.
The very first HHKB featured a detachable connector and was available in three different connectors (followed by their applicable part numbers).
|PFU Model Number||Connector||Number of Keys||Layout||Total Weight (without cable)||Release Date||Discontinued Date|
|PD-KB02/S||SUN||60||Modified US ANSI||520g||20-12-1996||27-12-2005|
|PD-KB02/P||PS/2||60||Modified US ANSI||520g||20-12-1996||27-12-2005|
|PD-KB02/M||ADB||60||Modified US ANSI||520g||07-11-1997||27-12-2005|
Happy Hacking Keyboard was launched on the December 20, 1996 with no indications of the price and was discontinued on December 27, 2005 following the announcement to cease production on December 12, 2005. At the time of the launch Happy Hacking Keyboard did not come out with Mac compatibility. This feature was later added on November 7, 1997. The Mac variant (PD-KB02/M) with the ¥29,800 (Japanese Yen) price tag was also discontinued on December 27, 2005. These keyboards were built to comply with Dr. Wada's ideal compact keyboard with some slight variations to the overall design.
Among the ideas that Dr. Wada did not propose for instance was the amount of various connectors available for the keyboard alone.
On January 12, 1999 PFU saw a favourable reception from HHKB owners and applied price cuts of up to 33%. The revised price tag for any of the three Happy Hacking Keyboards was ¥19,800 with any extra connectors priced at ¥3,000 each.
PFU Systems (previously known as PFU America and with site previously registered as pfuca.com) showcased the Happy Hacking Keyboard at three exhibitions in 1998:
- USENIX'98 product exhibition on June 15-16, 1998 in Marriott Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana
- 1998 Atlanta Linux Showcase Conference and Exhibition on Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24, 1998 in Atlanta Apparel Mart, Atlanta, Georgia
- LISA '98 Exhibition on December 9-10, 1998 in Marriott Copley Place Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
PFU Systems also priced the Happy Hacking Keyboard at $189 initially with a choice of one of three cables available. Additional cables were priced at $30 each and none of these included the Californian sales tax. Later on, the keyboard was discounted to $139
Further information about Happy Hacking Keyboard such as the keyboard design and actuation force, etc. was made available on the old PFU America web site in English:
- Key layout
- High Quality Key Structure
- How to connect
- Comparison of keyboard sizes
- FAQ & Useful tips
- DIP switch settings
A Linux Journal (formerly known as Linux Gazette) review was made available briefly discussing Happy Hacking Keyboard compatibility with Linux. It first appeared on Issue 35, December 1998 and was acknowledged on PFU America's website.
On May 28, 1999 PFU Systems provided 20 free Happy Hacking Keyboards to graduate students between January 1 and June 30, 1999 in the US. Graduate students completing their degree during the same time period were also eligible.
On December 10, 2006 PFU Systems declared Happy Hacking Keyboard as End-Of-Life.
PFU America released a whole bunch of accessories at one time for Happy Hacking Keyboard and subsequently Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite.
From then onwards came the introduction of Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite on October 13, 1999 aimed at reducing the cost of owning a compact and unique keyboard. Subsequently on March 21, 2001 Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 was introduced and the series expanded on October 8, 2001, October 12, 2002 and June 10, 2004 respectively. Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional was introduced on April 24, 2003 and the series expanded on February 14, 2005, March 24, 2006, November 10, 2008 and June 15, 2011 respectively.
The Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite series were rated around 10-20 million actuations minimum (Lite was 20 million actuations, Lite 2 is 10 million actuations) whereas the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional series were rated around 30 million actuations minimum.
- HHKB Lite range of rubber dome over membrane keyboards aimed at reducing the cost of owning Happy Hacking Keyboard.
- HHKB Professional range of capacitive keyboards featuring Topre switches aimed at professionals and enthusiasts alike.
- wide.ad.jp - Dr. Wada's homepage
- PFU website - What's New: Programmer's small keyboard "Happy Hacking Keyboard" launch (Japanese only)
- PFU website - What's New: 2005 News (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Compatible with Macintosh became more easy to use, personal computers and workstations for compact keyboard "Happy Hacking Keyboard" (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Compact keyboard for workstation become more affordable (Japanese only)
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - News & Events Index
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - USENIX REPORT
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - News & Events Index
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - Linux Showcase Report
- (Wayback machine) ale.org - 1998 Atlanta Linux Showcase
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - News & Events Index
- Linux Journal - Happy Hacking Keyboard
- (Wayback Machine) pfuca.com - Happy Hacking Order Form
- (Wayback machine) Linux Gazette - Happy Hacking Keyboard product review
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - FREE KEYBOARDS FOR GRADS !
- (Wayback machine) pfusystems.com - HHKB specs
- (Wayback machine) pfuca.com - Accessories Index
- PFU website - What's New: Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite (Japanese only)
- PFU website - What's New: Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 (Japanese only)
- PFU website - What's New: Add new models to Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite2 series expansion (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 no kana engraved model (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: Happy Hacking Professional (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: Happy Hacking Professional "INK" (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: HHKB Pro 2 (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: HHKB Professional JP (Japanese only)
- PFU website - Press release: HHKB Professional Type-S (Japanese only)
- Wikipedia - Happy Hacking Keyboard
- wide.ad.jp - Dr. Eiiti Wada's design - Small and personal keyboard in HTML format (Google translated to English)
- rikunabi.com - Interview with Dr. Eiiti Wada (Google translated to English)
- PFU web site - Aiming at the ideal keyboard (prequel) (Google translated to English)
- PFU web site - Aiming at the ideal keyboard (Part two) (Google translated to English)
- Japanese Computer Pioneers - Profile of Dr. Eiiti Wada
- Mechanical Keyboard HQ - Review of Happy Hacking Professional 2
- PFU website - HHKB Lite 2 product page
The following information is available only in Japanese
- PFU web site - http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/hhkeyboard/dr_wada.html
- wide.ad.jp - Dr. Eiiti Wada's homepage
- wide.ad.jp - Small and personal keyboard (Dr. Eiiti Wada's design) in PDF format
- rikunabi.com - Interview with Dr. Eiiti Wada
- PFU web site - Please pay attention to your keyboard layout - Technical review, HTML format
- Facebook - PFU HHKB webpage
- PFU web site - プログラマ向け小型キーボード 「Happy Hacking Keyboard」発売開始