我們現在所使用的電腦鍵盤上,從A到Z的英文字母按鍵並不像注音符號是按順序排列的。現在全世界通用的英文電腦鍵盤排列法叫「快蹄鍵盤」(QWERTY,這六個字母就是鍵盤第一列的前六個字母),這種鍵盤的排列方式其實是從過去的打字機鍵盤沿襲下來的。

 

這種排法是延續打字機的設計,主要是為了避免當時打字機按鍵的機械桿在打字時會互相碰撞導致故障而設計的。不過在很多文章中的說法有一個小小的錯誤,這就是QWERTY鍵盤的鍵位設計並不是要“使擊鍵的速度不至太快導致卡住”,而是“在不至卡住的前提下盡量提高打字速度”。實際上這樣設計的根本原因在於機械式打字機的結構,其鉛字槓桿的結構決定了當兩個位置接近的鉛字同時按下的時候就會卡死,但相對的兩個相距較遠的鉛字就不會發生同樣的問題,所以說,設計QWERTY鍵盤的最終目的並不是為了單純的減低打字速度,事實上,QWERTY鍵盤的設計方案恰恰是為了提高打字速度,只不過是“在不會卡死的情況下盡力提高打字速度”。

「套牢」現象
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。

 

資料來源: http://www.daskeyboard.com/blog/?page_id=1329#designtwo

Chapter Two: Design – The Development of the Computer Keyboard

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?

ENIAC and Modern Computer Laptop
1946 ENIAC Computer, compared to Modern Laptop. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

ENIAC

ENIAC (電子數字積分計算機) 出現於 1946,是史上第一台通用型電子計算機。它是專為協助美國軍方計算彈道路徑而建立的電腦。ENIAC 重達 27,000 公斤 (60,000 英磅),體積大到可佔滿整個大房間。為了處理資料,ENIAC 使用約 18,000 個真空管,每個真空管都是一個小電燈泡的大小。這些真空管很容易就會燒壞,因此必須時常更換。
ENIAC 程式設計

UNIVAC Teletype

1950s UNIVAC Computer's Teletype Input Device. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

BINAC Computer with Teletype

1948 BINAC Computer with Women using Teletype Machine. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

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).

Early Computer Punch card

Early Computer Punch card. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum.

Keypunch Reader

1960 Keypunch Reader Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

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.

1940s ENIAC Keypunch Printer and Card Sorter

1940s ENIAC Keypunch Printer and Card Sorter in operation. Image Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

UNIVAC Computer

1960s UNIVAC Computer in Operation. Notice the Teletype Input Device to his left. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

通用自動計算機 ( UNI Versal Automatic Computer ; 簡稱UNIVAC ) ,用於1950年的全美戶口普查,以及用來預測1952年美國總統大選,成為第一部商用電腦。
UNIVAC發表時,媒體的反應平平。《紐約時報》上有一則兩句話的新聞,把這台電腦描繪成「8英呎高的數學天才,偉解決美國人口普查局的問題而設計的」。


 

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.

 

1970s Altiar Computer with Exposed Keyboard

1970s Altiar Computer with Exposed Keyboard Courtesy of the Computer History Museum

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.

1970s IMSAI Computer with front panel key switches

1970s IMSAI Computer with front panel key switches

1970s Altair Home Office Desk Set-Up

1970s Altair Home Office Desk Set-Up. Courtesy of the Computer History Museum.

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.

1984 IBM Model M Keyboard

1984 IBM Model M Keyboard

Keytop Expanders Advertisement

Keytop Expanders Advertisement

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).

Apple-Keyboard-1983-vs-2010

Apple-Keyboard-1983-vs-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.

True Touch Roll-up Keyboard

True Touch Roll-up Keyboard

Mouse and Keyboard Combo

Mouse and Keyboard Combo (The entire keyboard moves on the desk as a mouse)

Mini Wireless Keyboard Device

Mini Wireless Keyboard Device

iPad and iPhone Virtual Keyboards

iPad and iPhone 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.

Laser Keyboard

Laser Keyboard

Altuq Toprak's Flying Saucer keyboard

Altuq Toprak's Flying Saucer keyboard

Jellyfish Chorded Keyboard

Jellyfish Keyboard. Industrial Designer: Erik Campbell. Inventor: Doug Engelbart.

Jellyfish Chorded Keyboard

Jellyfish Keyboard. Industrial Designer: Erik Campbell. Inventor: Doug Engelbart.

Optimus Maximus Keyboard

Optimus Maximus Keyboard

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.

The Alchemist Keyboard Courtesy of Doc at Datamancer

The Alchemist Keyboard Detail Courtesy of Doc at Datamancer

The Ergo Keyboard Courtesy of Doc at Datamancer

The Streamline Keyboard Courtesy of Doc at Datamancer

The Scrabble Keyboard Courtesy of Doc at Datamancer

 
人腦控制未來電腦 滑鼠鍵盤或成歷史

多點觸控(Multi-touch)

這種技術讓使用者可以利用簡單的手勢,輸入複雜的指令。眾所周知的例子是用兩指捏iPhone手機的螢幕,就能將畫面拉近;或用兩指碰擦螢幕,就能瀏覽網頁。

一般電腦如果具有這種多點觸控技術,可以加快指令的輸入速度,畢竟多根手指勝過一個滑鼠游標。

但有兩個問題亟待克服。第一、使用者如果長時間觸碰螢幕,會感覺不舒服;第二、當使用者觸碰螢幕時,會擋住自己的視線。

有一種稱為「10/GUI」的觸控墊可以解決上述問題。當使用者將手放在這種觸控墊上時,電腦螢幕會顯示10個透明的小圓圈,代表使用者的10根手指頭。當使用者按壓並移動某些數量的指頭時,可以開啟選單、移動視窗或下其它指令。


(「10/GUI」說明影片)

手勢感應(Gesture sensing)

近年來,日本任天堂的Wii遊戲機使這種技術炙手可熱,很多遊戲開發廠商紛紛仿效。這種技術能使動作在三維空間呈現。

位於洛杉磯的歐布龍公司(Oblong Industries)開發出一種名為「g-speak」的作業環境。使用者戴上特殊手套,站在固定於牆上的大型螢幕和桌上監視器前面,透過一系列類似交通警察和手槍射擊的手勢,可以將螢幕上的圖像和資料移動到另一個螢幕上。

該公司首席策略長瑞夏爾(Christian Rishel)表示,這種介面使人們可以快速篩選大量資料。早期使用這種昂貴介面的機構包括軍事和石油公司,但他認為在5至10年內,所有公司都會採用這種技術的某種形式。

瑞夏爾認為,這種技術使人腦與電腦的互動超越二維電腦螢幕,讓花用在電腦的時間更有效率、有更高的報酬率、而且更像體育活動。


(「g-speak」示範影片)

聲音辨識(Voice recognition)

聲音辨識的概念已經衍生了幾十年,在市面上也有相當多的軟體出售。這些產品大多是用以取代傳統打字的聲音輸入法,速度上快了大約三倍。

龍公司(Dragon)已經開發出可以讓使用者百分之百控制電腦的聲控法,使無法操作傳統鍵盤的殘障人士也能使用電腦。

舉例來說,當使用者說「瀏覽網站」時,就能開啟瀏覽器,讓使用者選擇網頁連結。該公司總經理指出,這種語言介面相當彈性,而且幾乎無所不能,它的能力完全超越滑鼠之類的傳統裝置。


(聲音輸入法示範影片)

眼球追蹤(Eye-tracking)

所謂眼球追蹤技術,是利用高解析度的照相機和看不見的紅外線光源,偵測使用者眼視何處。

這種技術已被證實對科學上和廣告上的研究有所幫助。但在日常生活的電腦應用上,眼球追蹤技術大多用以協助殘障者,而且目前價格昂貴。

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。

當使用者雙眼注視螢幕的某個點時,那個部分就會放大,使用者可以按壓鍵盤,讓程式繼續執行。

曾經主導這項研究計畫的庫馬爾(Manu Kumar)說,與傳統滑鼠相比,使用「EyePoint」技術比較不會造成手腕肌肉扭傷,但這種「注視再點擊」的方法有稍微高一點的錯誤率。

庫馬爾相信這種技術可以發展至完全取代滑鼠,但成本仍是推廣這種技術的最大障礙。


(眼球追蹤示範影片)

人機介面(Brain-computer interfaces)

這種「腦袋一想,電腦就去做」的方法是人腦控制電腦的終極手段,它將腦電波翻譯成指令,在電腦螢幕或機器裝置上運作。

如同聲音辨識一樣,人機介面這種方法也能幫助身心障礙者使用電腦。

但這種方法的主要問題是,若要從大腦獲得清晰的訊息,必須在體內植入電極,這容易造成感染、身體排斥或傷疤等問題。

然而,其它非植入式的偵測腦波方式,例如在頭皮上戴著裝有電極的頭套,最近有顯著的發展。

最近,古格科技公司(Guger Technologies)推出一種名為「Intendix」的裝置,讓使用者利用腦波控制電腦拼字,可協助病患與他人溝通。「Intendix」在使用時,螢幕上的虛擬鍵盤會閃爍數字和字母,當你希望哪個變亮,這種裝置在接收到腦波的訊息後,就會選擇該數字或字母。

對於健康的人來說,這種拼字速度太慢。而這種裝置的另一個缺點是成本不低。


(「Intendix」示範影片)
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