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Re: Keyboards

Alan Bawden wrote:

>There are some good pictures of the Space Cadet and Knight keyboards here:
>  http://world.std.com/~jdostale/kbd/
Cool.  I wonder who wrote the commentary; probably not jdostale, my
former housemate, since she never actually used these keyboards as far
as I know.

The commentary neglects one of the interesting facts: the
Space Cadet keyboard had parentheses on non-shifted keys, to make
them easier to type!

It also fails to mention the big keys labelled with a square, a circle, and
a triangle.  Jim Cherry, designer of hardware and CAD tools at Symbolics,
famously named these "blockhead", "roundhead",
and "pinhead".  Zippy the Pinhead was the unofficial internal Symbolics
"mascot".  I don't remember these keys ever being used for anything,
other than user-defined custom bindings, although it's been a long time
and I could be wrong...

In my opinion, the Knight keyboard had the very best keys ever.  They
were Hall-effect keys that felt just great.  The Space Cadet was slightly
worse, and subsequent keyboards were worse and worse.  We had no
control over this; we had to buy the keys from a key company, and the
best they had was worse every year.  We only got to design the keycaps.

We made our own
monitor electronics, our own laser-printer electronics, we wrote
the microcode, we wrote the operating system, and so on, but making
our own keys was, finally, below the level of abstraction that demarked
our build/buy line. We were really, really crazy, but we were not
really, really, really, really crazy.