186

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 lowercase "l" [for machines with them] for the purpose. Typewriter keyboards which used a shift key for uppercase did generally include a "0", however, since ...


80

This is largely a case of path dependency. Originally keyboards had to have a staggered layout to fit the mechanical linkages between the keys and the levers. After that, it was what industry was tooled up to make, and what people were used to. And there hasn't been a big enough change to typing to get most people to change over to a matrix (non staggered)...


63

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 more efficiently than the mouse. They still use it. In fact, when you google excel scroll lock, the first thing on the list is Turn off Scroll Lock - Office ...


62

Why don't simply improve the standard numerical keyboard by adding the missing characters ? download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


57

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 programs for which the cost of re-writing and re-training are huge. To the best of my knowledge you can still put a floppy into a modern windows machine, run the ...


57

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 assume OP is talking about QWERTY layout, which "is the most common modern-day keyboard layout for Latin script." Let's take a look at the history of keyboard ...


44

Well, you are, obviously, talking about the section of the keyboard whose main function is to write letters for words and sentences, because on the right side of the keyboard, both signs can be used without the shift key. Going back to your question, the difference is related to the different uses that the dash symbol has on normal writing and the lack of ...


29

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 costs). This wikipedia entry and This book excerpt provides some interesting background on the QWERTY keyboard issue and history. Reasons 0 is one of the most ...


28

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. So if you want to go with a 4x4 layout, you should choose one of these: download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups


20

My guess is that it's a skeumorphic carryover from mechanical typewriters. Note how the rows are shifted differing amounts, they are not all uniformly shifted from the rows above and below by half a key's width. This might have been done to allow all the mechanical levers connected to the keys to have their own plane to move up and down in and not collide ...


18

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 designs and mockups implementing these considerations: Mobile virtual keyboards shapes Notice the shape keyboards take on mobile devices on the mockups drawn ...


16

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. +--------------------------------------------------+ | | +--------------------------------------------------+ +-------+-------+----...


15

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 not have a separate key for either 0 or 1 (as they could be rendered with O and l). The 0 key appears to have become popular on layouts before the 1 key was. ...


15

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 end before starting deletion.


13

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, though it is not used by most modern-day software. In the original design, Scroll Lock was intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. When the ...


12

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 a case of path dependency. Originally keyboards had to have a staggered layout to fit the mechanical linkages between the keys and the levers. After ...


11

The early typewriters were actually setup differently: the Remington no 2 had an entirely different layout: The earliest typewriter with the + on shift-= that I could find was the IBM Model A from 1949 (and maybe the 01 from 1939, but I cannot find a keyboard layout for that). by that time, the first programmable computers were around, which were programmed ...


11

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 also does not change the expected behavior for a keypad.


10

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 capable of deleting icons, files, and folders. Pressing backspace when a file or other object is highlighted does nothing. But the real reason why we have two keys ...


9

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 attempt: Here is another one, inspired by the default Windows calculator. +-----------------------------------------------+ | ...


8

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 width of the keyboard more than the height. For a wide keyboard, I like steveverrill's idea (not enough points to upvote...), but I would tweak it a little bit ...


8

Much of UX is about expectations and recognizing patterns. Anyone who is used to QWERTY will be much faster in finding a specific character in that layout than in an ABC layout because you don't really have to actively think about it. Especially in satnavs, you want to be able to use the keyboard quickly and efficiently, and for a huge part of your user base ...


8

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, you can remap it so that the Scroll Lock key acts as a modifier to set your keyboard to use a different set of characters. This thread has a script that gives ...


8

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 layout is easiest to use for most users The hexagonal layout isn't a bad idea. But there are some real drawbacks: Flesh out your design more. What would the space ...


6

There are two separate concerns here: (1) why the keys were shifted originally, and (2) why they remain shifted nowadays. The computer keyboard as we know it today came from mechanical typewriters, because at the time the first computers were developed many people were already trained in typing on those machines, so using the old design helped with ...


6

On the numeric area of the keyboard, plus does not need a shift key, and neither does / or *. In fact, it often is quite a big key there. So, when focused on entering numeric data, you have all the relevant keys readily available. When focused on entering text, the + symbol is not as important as the - symbol, as the - symbol is also used in running text as ...


6

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 seems I'm just too funny for words, so here's a more direct and unfunny answer: Some people may use a letter mapping of the numbers. They might do this ...


6

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 "Resume From S3", and allowed you to select from several options, such as "any key," "power key," or "wake key." However, in all cases, there were other ...


5

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 on a QWERTY keyboard. For most other situations it's a bit rubbish. When you are selecting a character one at a time understanding the order and position of ...


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