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Bringing Manual Input into the 20th Century: Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131476D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 10 page(s) / 39K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Edward B. Montgomery: AUTHOR [+3]


University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1982 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

Bringing Manual Input into the 20th Century:

Edward B. Montgomery,

University of Texas Health Science Center at Dallas

Nostalgia may very well have a place in today's world. But does it include the use o f a 19th century keyboard with a modern computer?

A century ago, the typewriter was a remarkable invention and use of the machines spread rapidly. Unfortunately, so did an ever- increasing awareness of their limitations. By the beginning of the 20th century, serious scientific studies were launched in an attempt to overcome these machine-induced restraints -- studies that included the exploration of different typewriting teaching techniques, methods of improving the mechanism, and, obviously, ways of rearranging the characters of the alphabet on the keyboard as a means of increasing the user's speed.

The keyboard is a major method of information entry for typewriters, for the computer, and for many other applications. As the use of computers has grown, so has a renewed consideration of the limitations of the keyboard, it being the most limiting piece of equipment in the manto- machine interface.

Over the years there have been many efforts to rearrange keyboards as a means of improving both speed and ease of use. In my opinion, the best of these was the

keyboard invented by August Dvorak in the mid- 1 930's. ~ However, once touch-typing is learned on our standard hundred-year-old keyboard, resistance to learning a better way seems insurmountable. For this and other reasons, the Dvorak keyboard has not been widely accepted, even though its use would result in a significant increase in typing speed.

We are currently on the threshold of major extensions to the field of computer-assisted instruction. As telecommunications grows and the use of computers becomes Commonplace, the time is rapidly approaching when 200 million or more alphanumeric keyboards will be needed in the United States alone. It is quite likely that many (perhaps even a majority) of the most important uses of computers in the next 10 to 30 years will involve nonnumerical applications. Even with the advent of voice recognition and other modes of input, it is definitely time to reexamine the fundamentals of manual input methods and begin the search for totally new concepts that will bring the keyboard into the 20th, or even the 21st century.

Some background on keyboards

The keyboard in use today was invented in the 1860's by Christopher Latham Sholes as part of his patented typewriter. It is his final arrangement of keys that is now our standard -- a...