I hate the keyboard

Twelve F-keys, arrows with an inverted T - it seems that the computer keyboard always looked like that. At least this layout has been with us for more than 30 years. It would seem, why change what works well? But the longer you realize how many seemingly such a simple thing would be controversial, uncomfortable and annoying little things.

When the IBM PC began to be developed in 1980, the keyboard was not even specifically designed for it - it was decided to take the IBM Datamaster ready for use from the all-in-one monoblock, which was being developed in parallel. Although the performance of this keyboard was at the highest level, the layout caused a flurry of criticism. After several iterations in 1986, Model M came out, becoming the standard for many years. Some of the solutions used in this keyboard - the arrows of the inverted T, the PgUp / PgDown keys, the division of the F-keys into groups of 4 pieces - turned out to be very successful and were copied by everyone: the same Apple soon released its Apple Extended Keyboard. But from past attempts to come up with a keyboard, many rudiments remained, and some places were made to get rid of. And more than 30 years have to live with them.

Digital block

It seems that IBM did not want to keep a digital block on its keyboard (and by the way, the keyboard in TKL format was produced in parallel with the full-size one). They kind of say to us: rejoice that at least there is a duplicate Enter. Want to type brackets? Signs "more-less-equal"? Other math symbols? Even just to remove an incorrectly entered character, you have to move your hand to the main unit. But for some reason they left the NumLock key right above the number 7 - so that if I missed when typing, the cursor went somewhere unknown and had to curse to turn on NumLock and go back to its original place.

Disbalance hands

As long as you simply type the text, the right hand works a little more than the left: a little more keys are in its charge, including Backspace and Enter. But you should start editing the text - and while the left hand rarely leaves the starting position, the right hand constantly has to rush from the alphanumeric keyboard to the arrows, the number pad and the mouse. It is clear that IBM in 1986 did not think that someone would use the mouse. Despite the fact that for a couple of years as a Macintosh, and for the PC itself, the first version of Windows has already been released, albeit not very successful. Maybe all the same it was worth placing the cursor keys under the left hand? And pull them closer to the main keyboard.

Four little useful buttons

Four functions that can occasionally be useful: suspension of the program (which almost never works), replacement mode (it can be useful when editing text, but few people know how to use it, but how unpleasant it is to press it accidentally!), PrintScreen ( can be very useful in a year) and ScrollLock (very few are used, in the same console you can scroll through the window, just hold down the Ctrl key!) - you got a whole separate button, and the latter - also the power indicator! It seems that the keyboard was too much space, and I had to take something with it. Couldn’t it have been possible to come up with more useful functions for extra keys: for example, “cut-copy-paste”, “undo-redo”? "New-open-save-close", finally. And these, for compatibility, could be stuffed into the Shift-layer, as they did with the “SysRQ” button.

Speaking of modes

Among the claims that were expressed to the first version of the IBM PC keyboard was a complaint that the keyboard has different input modes, and it is unclear which of them is turned on and which is not. In IBM PC AT, the problem was solved in the forehead: completely changing the exchange protocol with the keyboard, and at the same time hanging several side functions on the keyboard controller, added three LED indicators. The solution is not the most successful: firstly, not everyone looks at the keyboard when working, and the switch can be overlooked because of a miss on a key or for some other reason. And secondly: what interfered with these modes, at least in the Model M, to refuse at all? Well, still Caps Lock, it was at least something useful in the era of text screens. But for the other two, few would have grieved.

Nobody knows how to use F-keys

This is not a question of the keyboard layout, but of the development culture. If you ask in one voice why these keys are needed, all in one voice will say that they do not have a predetermined purpose. But then it turns out that F1, F3, F5 and Alt + F4 still have. But not always. And how to find out when? And what are the others doing? To delve into help, if there is any? In the shortcut settings? Or at random? But what prevents to do as in the good old DOS programs: a small line, where the purpose of each of them would be displayed. They could then partially replace the context menu, offering a dozen of the most relevant in the context of operations. Or make it possible to assign an action to a function key, or even a macro, in a couple of clicks - yes, it can be more difficult to implement,

Finally - localization problems

Understandably, there are more letters in Russian than in English, and there is much less space for punctuation on the keyboard. More precisely, it doesn’t remain at all; you can enter only a period, a hyphen, an equals sign and a backslash without the modifier key. Not only must a comma be entered via Shift, we were deprived of the apostrophe, the “more” and “less” signs on the Russian layout. And also, when you have to use wiki-markup and markdown, infuriates the absence of many symbols. But instead they gave us the symbol of the number. And by the way, the question is: why is the ISO layout very common in our country, but by default they never put a comma and / or apostrophe on this extra key?

And all this could be tolerated if there was a convenient way to switch layouts. It is desirable that one key, and that it worked in any system equally. Moreover, the key is there, but you can configure CapsLock to switch layouts without any “but” in Linux.

It is a pity that the keyboard is given so little attention. Will it still change, or will it remain so until we all switch to voice input, neural interfaces, or something like that? Or maybe you know a custom layout that will soon take over the world? Then post in the comments.

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