197 votes
Accepted

Why is the 0 next to 9, not next to 1?

Many early typewriter keyboards did not have any key to the left of the "2", since a typist who needed to type the digit below that could use an uppercase "I" [for machines without "shift" keys] or ...
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  • 3,245
69 votes

Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

One major commonly used application that still supports Scroll Lock is Microsoft Excel. This makes sense if you work in spreadsheets all day and are used to navigating with the keyboard arrow keys ...
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62 votes
Accepted

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

Why don't simply improve the standard numerical keyboard by adding the missing characters ? download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups
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  • 7,491
61 votes
Accepted

Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

There are a zillion bits of legacy code out there many of which have appropriated the "junk" keys for application purposes. You've not seen many of them because they are internal, mission-critical ...
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  • 764
60 votes

Why is the 0 next to 9, not next to 1?

supercat and BowlOfRed's answers are right on the track, but I feel like there are some missing info that I can add. Note: Since OP mentions "On almost all keyboard layouts I have ever seen", I ...
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  • 712
31 votes

Why is the 0 next to 9, not next to 1?

It should not be next to the 9 ...but it remains there, much like the inefficient QWERTY keyboard layout itself, because it's a legacy problem (aka people are used to it and there are high switching ...
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  • 40.4k
28 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

You say the keyboard is for hexadecimal input. And that's the reason why your second try doesn't feel right! As @steveverrill also noticed in the comments, the numeric order ABCDEF1234567890 is wrong. ...
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  • 1,641
18 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

So, as I was writing a couple of pretty long comments on the other answer, I felt inclined to present it as an answer as well. Following are a couple of considerations not made by the other major ...
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  • 3,304
16 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

Based on Renaud's idea of extending the standard numeric keypad, but wide instead of tall. Also illustrating that it's OK (even beneficial) to leave space between groups of keys. +--------------------...
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15 votes

Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

To add a bit of history on the reason behind the scroll lock, quoting this article The Scroll Lock key was meant to lock all scrolling techniques, and is a remnant from the original IBM PC keyboard, ...
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  • 43.6k
15 votes

Why is the 0 next to 9, not next to 1?

At least part of the answer must be that it couldn't be placed next to the 1 because... there was usually no 1 (mentioned in this Wikipedia article). The original keyboards were quite simple and did ...
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  • 251
15 votes

Why do we have both backspace and delete keys on most keyboards?

The functionality is not the same. The delete key keeps the cursor position in the same place. Backspace moves the cursor as it deletes. Without both keys, one would need to position the cursor to one ...
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  • 2,813
12 votes
Accepted

Why aren't keyboards' home and top rows aligned nicely?

You may find this thread relevant. In a nutshell, it's a legacy design trait from typewriter days, and there hasn't been much reason to change it. Why are keyboard keys staggered? This is largely ...
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  • 7,611
11 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

Personally I like how the Windows Calculator does it: I understand this does have extra keys that you do not need, but I do like having the letters in alphabetical order to the left of the keys. This ...
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  • 228
10 votes

Why do we have both backspace and delete keys on most keyboards?

First of all they perform slightly different functions. The delete key erases text to the right of the cursor and the backspace key erases text to the left of the cursor. Also the delete key is ...
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9 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

I noticed myself having to actualy search where were the numbers on your last two design. I would definitely choose a design where the numbers are ordered and not mixed with letters. Here is my ...
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  • 501
9 votes

Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

The fact that you have a key that is unused in any modern application (Excel excluded) and has a dedicated hardware indicator light, it is perfect for use with something like Autohotkey. For example, ...
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8 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

For what kind of screen is the interface? You say touch, but that can mean a multitude of things. For example, on a smartphone, a square-ish keyboard may be acceptable, but on a tablet you want the ...
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8 votes

Why are the keys on a keyboard square?

Keyboard design is largely governed by convention for many reasons: The QWERTY layout is what consumers want and expect Typing is so ubiquitous and so driven by muscle memory that the staggered ...
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  • 40.4k
7 votes

iOS lock screen has letters

If you're in the US, why don't you call Apple and ask them. Apple have a dedicated iPhone helpline. The number is 1-800-694-7466 Or if you find it easier to remember, it's 1-800-MY-IPHONE EDIT It ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Wake Up key on keyboard

There were several versions of BIOS (Basic Input Output Systems) that came on motherboards in the 1990s and 2000s that had an option to choose when to resume. These systems usually had an entry named "...
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  • 1,127
6 votes
Accepted

Why were Ctrl-Z and Ctrl-Y chosen as undo/redo shortcuts?

It is likely based on the key position of other commonly used actions (cut, copy, paste) on the keyboard. Likely it all boils down to placement on a QWERTY keyboard. [...] From there, X ...
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5 votes

Show special keyboard view when entering a password on mobile devices?

I believe the straightforward answer to this is a resounding yes. It would be a fantastic solution and one that clearly improves usability. I think that given our knowledge that passwords are often a ...
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  • 32.1k
5 votes
Accepted

Why some programs use alphabetically layouted keyboards?

Because the (expected) primary input device is a normal TV remote control using arrows to select the letter. The QWERTY keyboard layout is excellent for people who have learnt to type and are typing ...
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  • 2,100
5 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

Warning: Unsubstantiated non-expert opinion ahead. You say hexadecimal keyboard in your question, but your users are not actually doing calculations with these numbers, or even really thinking of ...
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  • 779
5 votes
Accepted

Why are the right- and left- quotation marks on iOS's keyboard reversed?

TL;DR: The distribution of the characters responds to the proximity of the upper keys to the finger and the frequency of use of the characters. I think it is because of the way the iOS keyboards ...
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  • 16.7k
4 votes

Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?

Computer companies (Microsoft in particular) strive to be backward compatible. In addition to there being some software that still uses scroll lock (Excel has been mentioned in other responses), there ...
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  • 408
3 votes
Accepted

What's the best way to determine if a character is universally easy to type?

There is no universal answer, because keyboards and other input tools vary so much. There is not a single character that can be assumed to be convenient to type. If we restrict ourselves to the use ...
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3 votes

Layout for on-screen hexadecimal keyboard

A few constraints arise that direct our design: We want the number keys to be in the same order as we're all used to them being in. The keys should be located as close to each other as possible so ...
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