Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Strange New Keyboards

"The World's Weirdest Keyboards"
PC World (March 17, 2009)

"In the world of computer keyboards, the commonly held standard for layout and design is based on the 101-key IBM Enhanced AT Keyboard (aka the 'Model M', sometimes known as The World’s Greatest Keyboard). Keyboards following that standard have a QWERTY layout, a flat or slightly inclined rectangular shape, and keys situated (for the most part) where long-time computer users expect them. Nevertheless, even when computer makers try to adhere to that model, things can sometimes go horribly wrong....."

The article is played for laughs. With some justification. The Klingon Language Standard Keyboard, for example, isn't likely to be found in many offices next year.

On the other hand, I'm not as quick to laugh at designers of the Datahand Professional II (pictured). PC World's writer wittily stated:

"I know what you're thinking, but no--the Datahand Professional II is neither a handy appliance designed for quick and easy amputation of your fingertips nor a digital bathroom scale for people with extremely small feet. It's just your average, completely incomprehensible $995 ergonomic data entry device. Move along."

That sounds like what a brilliant man said about a newfangled and (to him) utterly impractical computer interface gadget: " 'There is no evidence that people want to use these things.' " (John C. Dvorak, San Francisco Examiner, 19 February 1984: cited in Wikipedia)

He was talking about the mouse.

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