The Evolution of Computer Keyboards

By Jason Fitzpatrick on November 8th, 2012

While the basic shape of keyboards has remained largely unchanged over the last thirty years, the guts have undergone several transformations. Read on to explore the history of the computer keyboard.

ComputerWorld delves into the history of the modern keyboard, including the heavy influence IBM’s extensive keyboard research on early keyboards:

As far as direct influences on the modern computer keyboard, IBM’s Selectric typewriter was one of the biggest. IBM released the first model of its iconic electromechanical typewriter in 1961, a time when being able to type fast and accurately was a highly sought-after skill.

Dag Spicer, senior curator at the Computer History Museum, notes that as the Selectric models rose to prominence, admins grew to love the feel of the keyboard because of IBM’s dogged focus on making the ergonomics comfortable. “IBM’s probably done more than anyone to find [keyboard] ergonomics that work for everyone,” Spicer says. So when the PC hit the scene a decade or two later, the Selectric was largely viewed as the baseline to design keyboards for those newfangled computers you could put in your office or home.

Hit up the link below to continue reading about how the Selectric influenced keyboards throughout the 1980s and what replaced the crisp clacking of early IBM-styled models.

The Past is Prototype: The Evolution of Computer Keyboards [ComputerWorld]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/8/12
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