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IEEE Computer Volume 15 Number 8 -- THE OPEN CHANNEL

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131530D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-11
Document File: 9 page(s) / 32K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Charles McCabe: AUTHOR [+3]


THE OPEN CHANNEL * Wipe keyboard slick but not practical ** The model. ** Application. ** Fix 1 ** Fix 2 * References * The secret of Japan's technological superiority

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Charles McCabe

The San Francisco Chronicle

"Any clod can have the hate, but having opinions b an art."

The Open Channel is exactly what the name Impales: a forum for the free exchange of technical Ideas. Try to hold your contributions to one page maximum in the final magazine format (about 1000 words).

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Wipe keyboard slick but not practical

In an article on the wipe typewriter keyboard, Montgomery presents an interestinq new device and some data on its development. ~ He also takes potshots at the design of the Sholes keyboard (the familiar QWERTY board) and discusses alternative key layouts, such as the Dvorak keyboard,2 and alternative designs for the typewriter. The wipe keyboard has been developed from such considerations, and a few years ago Rochester, Bequeert, and Sharp3 presented another such device, the chord keyboard. Some claim that such keyboards and systems are markedly superior to the classical, "badly designed" typewriter. I don't think this claim is valid and will show why.

Despite all claims for the Dvorak keyboard, Kinkead4 shows that only a seven-percent improvement in typing time can be expected from an optimal change of keyboard layout. Kinkead also shows that the same improvement can be obtained with systems that automatically return the carriage, as do many computer text editors. He concluded that the seven-percent improvement from a different keyboard layout is not enough to warrant changing from the Sholes layout; however, some minor changes in the Sholes design (such as no carriage returns for most typing) could be exhemely useful. I have duplicated Kinkead's results in class projects5 and have evidence that typists using text compatible with the Sholes keyboard (for the Dvorak keyboard, those typing random English text) perform better by the exact proportions Kinkead predicted. I can conclude then that Kinkead's theoretical arguments with respect to the Dvorak keyboard are probably right.

Can Kinkead's analytic techniques be applied to proposed devices such as the chord keyboard and the wipe keyboard? I suggest typing time with a wipe keyboard will not be better than that with the Sholes keyboard and may in fact be worse. My supporting analysis relies on a model of human operator behavior...