The History And Origins Of Our Pc Computer Keyboards

The History And Origins Of Our Pc Computer Keyboards

The History And Origins Of Our Pc Computer Keyboards
The keyboard is​ among the​ most underappreciated and taken for granted component of​ the​ Personal Computer (PC) that we​ use everyday.
We are all creatures of​ habit .​
We generally use certain keys and not others in​ certain way.
What are the​ origins and history of​ the​ now current accepted PC computer keyboard?
Interestingly enough the​ standard keyboard layout did not originate in​ one fell swoop .​
It developed through three separate IBM keyboard projects and often involved mistakes and pitfalls along its evolutionary path.
Most keyboard setups have their direct origin in​ the​ original IBM keyboard – the​ IBM Enhanced 101 Key Keyboard which IBM set as​ the​ standard in​ the​ year of​ 1987 .​
the​ Enhanced Keyboard was not the​ first but rather IBM’s third keyboard standard for PCs.
What were these previous frameworks of​ IBM keyboard models?
First the​ original IBM PC and XT keyboards had 83 keys .​
There were 10 function keys on​ the​ left side of​ the​ keyboard,​ a​ combined number pad and a​ cursor pad placed on​ the​ right hand side .​
the​ now called Control (Ctrl),​ Left Shift,​ and Alt keys were arranged in​ a​ line next to​ the​ function keys.
The Escape (Esc) as​ we​ know it​ was to​ the​ left of​ the​ numbers in​ the​ top row .​
To the​ right of​ the​ Right Shift Key,​ an​ unshifted asterisk key allowed the​ user to​ type the​ now common *.* without acrobatics .​
Between the​ tiny Left Shift key and the​ Zee key was a​ Backslash / Vertical key .​
The Enter key was narrow and vertically aligned and very easy to​ miss by most early PC users.
The design of​ this original IBM keyboard standard was a​ mixture of​ sensible and absurd keyboard layout decisions so much so that the​ admired components overshadowed the​ less thought out shortcomings and thus here we​ are today.
IBM’s next design was the​ original AT keyboard .​
This was somehow made incompatible with the​ earlier PC/XT design but a​ calculating user could reprogram in​ essence the​ newer keyboard to​ work.
The AT keyboard again had the​ then accepted ten function keys on​ the​ left,​ but exiled the​ Esc and the​ unshifted asterisk to​ the​ number pad .​
The Enter key was L-shaped and the​ Backsplash key,​ which now occupied the​ spot which used to​ be the​ left half of​ the​ Backspace key .​
Was reduced in​ size to​ the​ width of​ a​ single alpha key.
At some point when market forces pushed IBM to​ upgrade the​ venerable AT computer,​ it​ introduced the​ Enhanced model keyboard which was compatible with the​ original AT model,​ but had a​ drastically different layout .​
the​ ESC key and the​ 12 function keys were now along the​ top,​ the​ number pad was moved to​ the​ right .​
And a​ new cursor pad was placed between the​ alpha keys a​ number pad .​
The cursor pad ( which was actually split into two sets of​ keys ) consisted of​ four arrow keys in​ an​ inverted T at​ the​ bottom and a​ separate bank of​ 6 keys at​ the​ top: Ins ( Insert) ,​ Del (Delete) ,​ Home and End,​ and PgUp (Page up_ and PgDn ( Page down) .
What happened is​ that the​ computer users of​ the​ time disastrously started to​ press the​ Delete key when they meant end .​
There was virtually little memory,​ by today’s standards’ hence no advanced features of​ rescue that we​ take for granted today .​
a​ computer user who may have spent hours typing a​ major endeavor such as​ master’s thesis may have seen his hard work disappear into never never land.
It did not take too long for the​ complaints to​ arrive at​ IBM head office to​ rectify the​ situation .​
Leave well enough alone was the​ refrain .​
And the​ Backspace key returned to​ its original double width .​
The backslash key now occupied a​ single row .​
Caps lock migrated to​ the​ old side of​ the​ Ctrl key,​ and twin Ctrl and Alt keys flanked the​ spacebar.
The Del key though remained in​ its now current place although in​ some keyboards it​ is​ now double sized.
Like it​ or​ not this layout has become the​ standard by which we​ live with our computer enhanced lives.
The keyboard is​ among the​ most underappreciated and taken for granted component in​ our every day computer lives .​
We seldom stop to​ think why certain keys are laid out in​ the​ given way .​
Like it​ or​ not we​ owe a​ debt to​ thoughtfulness and thoroughness of​ the​ original IBM PC project engineers.

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