在1932, 華盛頓洲立大學廸福教授 創立一個打字機的鍵盤，把字母以用者的頻率來排列。廸福最頭的一行用五個常用的韻母和聲母來排列。: AOEUIDHTNS. 韻母在一面、聲母在另一邊。一個打字的旋律由此而生，單手也可改變該旋律。廸福鍵盤看來很好. 然而， 一個鍵盤是需要有更好的作用。沒有使用者想花時間和精神再熟習一個新鍵盤。只有少數的電腦軟件和special-order daisy wheels 是可用來把現代的打字機或文字處理器轉化為廸福鍵盤，但是這個產品的需求是相當小。最終我們還發現專業的打字員使用 QWERTY 鍵盤能在一分鐘打100 個字元；文字處理器更能加快打字速度。由此可見，廸福所述其鍵盤的好處，也變得沒有太大的影響。
從鍵盤的事例可見設計存在著一定的局限。現在 Qwerty 鍵盤已經歷過百年的時間，被人類廣泛利用到字典機、電腦等地方。一個不乎合使用效益的設計卻成為鍵盤的標準。這就是典型「套牢」現象。
While typewriters were widely used throughout the 1950s to the 1970s, computers were starting to emerge as a consumer friendly product, beginning the age of the computer keyboard as a primary input device. To understand the development of the computer keyboard, its important to understand the development and evolution of the computer. In 1946, the first computer, ENIAC was constructed and teletype was used to input data. As you can see below, the ENIAC computer took up an entire room, hundreds of times larger than the modern computer laptop. What was teletype and how is it different from from modern computer keyboard input?
Teletype and ENIAC computers used cards (similar in shape to index cards) that were inserted into the Teletype while a series of holes called keypunches would be punched into the cards according to which keys were pressed on the teletype machine. After the cards were keypunched by the computer, they were brought over to a card-reader that would analyze the deck of cards as data (tangible memory).
In 1948 the BINAC computer used a different input/output method, with an electromagnetically controlled teletype to input data and print results. The BINAC is what paved the way for the shape of computers and computer keyboards to come, though it would still take a few more decades to move away from the teletype/punchcard computers. Another punchcard computer popular at the time, was the UNIVAC I, produced in 1951 is also pictured below.
In 1964, Bell Labs and M.I.T. created the MULTICS computer, a time-sharing, multi-user system with VDT, a video display terminal. Text was instantly visible on the screen as it was typed, which made communicating commands, programs, and controls to computers more efficient than previous teletype methods of input. By the late 1970s all computers used VDT and electric keyboards. It was simply the most straight-forward and user-friendly method of interacting with computers (no stack of cards to punch holes in and keep organized).
The first keyboards that were sold in the 1970s were all built from scratch, piece by piece, and were heavy as they were fully mechanical. Since so much time and effort was needed to create these keyboards, and since the target market was primarily computer programmers and engineers, they were built for function and not for visual aesthetics. This meant there wasn’t a keyboard cover or cabinet, making the keyboard more or less exposed.
There were also keyboards that were built into personal computers at the time. In the mid-1970s Imsai and Altair created the first small PCs for consumer use, generally referred to as the S100 computer systems. These machines were built piece by piece, and provided the bare essentials. There were no hard drives or floppy discs on these first machines, so there was no way to save data on them. The keyboard was located on the front panel of the computer, as a set of key switches. If users wanted a standard keyboard, IBM sold a converted electric typewriter, but as supplies were limited and the product wasn’t in high demand many users had to convert their own electric typewriters if they wanted an easier to use keyboard to enter programming code. Additionally, a second keyboard had to be connected for data entry. It wasn’t provided with purchase, requiring that users had to build their own.
In the late 1970s Apple, Radio Shack and Commodore all had the foresight to see the large market in computer keyboards, and started manufacturing keyboards for their computers, paving the way for the modern assumption that all computers come with a keyboard, and that keyboards are the primary, standard input device. Below is a 1970s Radio Shack commercial for the TRS-80.
In 1984, IBM released their first PC, which came equipped with the Model M keyboard. This computer keyboard was wildly successful because it was so easy to use, users didn’t have to convert their typewriters or provide their own build of keyboard to use as an input device for their computers. The Model M was a mechanical keyboard, and used the highest quality construction, giving typists the satisfaction of tactile feedback, acute accuracy and comfort. The only draw backs on this keyboard was that the “Shift” and “Enter” keys were reportedly too small for the majority of user’s preferences. Because of this, IBM made and sold “Keytop Expanders” which fit over the shift and enter key-switches to expand the keys. All of the keyboards at this time were limited in that they were only offered in two colors: beige and grey, until the late 1980s when black was introduced as an option.
In the 1990s membrane switches began to replace the mechanical key switch, as it was quieter, weighed less, and suited the needs of the new laptop generation. This was also an advantage for the manufactures because membrane keyboards were much cheaper to produce. Unfortunately the quality of the keyboard significantly dropped as these superficial keyboard aesthetics dominated (slimmer, quieter, lighter weight, easier to be mobile with). The technology and mechanics of these keyboards will be detailed in future chapters, and mechanical keyboard information can be found here: on our Mechanical Keyboard Guide. Here’s a photo showing the dramatic difference between early Apple mechanical keyboards (1983), and decades later the modern non-mechanical Apple keyboards (2010).
Other changes in keyboard design, whether or not improving upon function, have included the folding keyboard, the water-proof (and washable) keyboard, the keyboard that also functions as a mouse, thumb-sized keyboards (for mobile devices and travel) and virtual touch-screen keyboards.
Over the years there have been several other designs that verge on science fiction- like the laser keyboard, the flying saucer keyboard, the jellyfish keyboard, and the fully-programable, lcd-key display Optimus Maximus Keyboard. Its mind-bending to see the evolution of keyboards in terms of where they started as teletype machines and typewriters- to where they’ve evolved into all the options we have quite literally at our fingertips.
Keyboards come in all shapes, sizes, and colors these days, though it’s important to remember that without the original, simple, powerhouse mechanical keyboards of IBM we wouldn’t be where we are today. With all of the design innovations being manufactured, there is no surprise that many creative keyboard aficionados have started to emerge with their own inventive modifications to improve the typing experience and aesthetic. Richard “Doc” Nagy has taken his creativity, and craftsmanship to the next level in keyboard design and has built some very interesting and inventive keyboard mods that seem to have traveled back in time, with a paradoxically futuristic edge. From steam punk and art deco themed keyboards, to keyboards with scrabble tiles for keys, Doc’s modified mechanical keyboards are true works of art (and fully functional). Visit Doc’s site, Datamancer.net for his complete gallery.
一種名為「GUIDe」(Gaze-enhanced User Interface Design)的研究計畫將眼球追蹤技術推廣至一般大眾。它開發的「EyePoint」軟體允許使用者將雙手放置在特殊的鍵盤上用以輸入，這種鍵盤的主要輸入裝置類似滑鼠。