Browse Prior Art Database

Input Keyboard

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000075287D
Original Publication Date: 1971-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-24
Document File: 6 page(s) / 108K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Stuckert, PE: AUTHOR

Abstract

The input keyboard is intended as a replacement for the conventional keyboards, i.e., the type used extensively in typewriters, computer terminals, key punches, etc. Such conventional keyboard is shown in Fig. 1.

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Input Keyboard

The input keyboard is intended as a replacement for the conventional keyboards, i.e., the type used extensively in typewriters, computer terminals, key punches, etc. Such conventional keyboard is shown in Fig. 1.

The keyboard shown in Fig. 1, has changed little since its development in the 1870's. Many "keyboard reforms" have been proposed in the intervening century, usually along one of the following lines:

1) Character Reassignment-This is an obvious approach. The assignment of characters to the keys of the conventional keyboard is essentially random from a human factors viewpoint.

2) Increase in the Number of Keys-Two factors are operative here:

(a) Since the 1870's, there has been a trend toward larger character sets.

(b) Concurrently, there has been a continuous search for higher operator speeds.

3) Coding-Numerous chord keyboards have been proposed wherein simultaneous key depressions signal characters, high frequency character sequences, and/or high frequency words.

All of the above-proposed "keyboard reforms" have failed because the improvement realized or promised was insufficient to overcome inertia, justify the cost of machine conversion, justify the cost of operator training or retraining, and/or justify the cost of additional keys.

The concepts of the keyboard described herein are based on the man- machine interface that exists at the ten surfaces where the fingers touch a mechanical or electromechanical device, and the overall objective is the design of an interface which maximizes the throughput per unit cost. Concomitantly, there emerge the facts that a designer of a keyboard has no design options relative to the shape of human hands, but has total control of the device.

As shown in Fig. 1, lines indicate the motions of the digits required in a conventional keyboard. Fig. 2 shows typical paths traced by the digit tips when such tips rest lightly on a horizontal surface with the hands in a natural relaxed position relative to the forearms and when the digits are moved from the extended, but not stretched position, to the tips-together position. It is readily apparent that the paths implicit in the x-y matrix (in oblique Cartesian coordinates) of Fig. 1 do not take into consideration the natural prehensile paths shown in Fig. 2.

The characteristics of an ideal keyboard would be:

1) Large character set, i.e., of the order of 125 characters as a minimum.

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2) Minimum operator motion-In decreasing order of importance, the head, body, upper arms, forearms, hands, and digits.

3) Natural Motions-All required operator motions should be as natural as possible.

Characteristics 1 and 2, immediately above, are contradictory if the design of the keyboard permits only one or two characters per responsive region, a responsive region being a conventional key or a region that is responsive to pressure, touch, or mere proximity. Accordingly, characteristic 4 follows:

4) Coding is required.

For the reasons g...