back to article Keyboard, you're not my type

When I chose to wave goodbye to wage slavery by turning freelance some (cough) 19 years ago, it was during an era in which the principal means of electronic communication between IT journalists was called Cix. Computers were powered by coke burners and required a team of navvies to work the bellows; monetary currency comprised …

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  1. Anthony Chambers
    Thumb Up

    Best keyboard?

    Subjective, of course, but I deliberately bought a bog-standard Unicomp space-saver with the original IBM style buckling-spring mechanisms. Loud and noisy and perfect! Technically the model is not very old (manufactured on Feb 3rd 2011, a day after I ordered it) but I suppose it's an old keyboard still

    1. Dave 62
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Best keyboard?

      ah yes, the IBM keyboard to end all keyboards. Do they still make them?

      I use a lappy day-to-day and the wafer thin scissor keys are ok but I do seem to get more typos than with big tall and clunky keys but that could be due to the flatness of the keys maybe.. or is it the fact they don't go straight down but lean slightly as you type? Easier to hit two keys too. It being in a laptop complete with massive flat bit in front of keyboard doesn't help. I'm sure some will say that's good for you or some such bollocks but it fucks up my typing.

      But then I often have to go and sit in a meeting room to get some respite from my noisily typing colleagues.

      Old coffee stained keyboard because their the best. That faint smell of fresh roast on your fingertips after a hefty session.

      1. firefly

        Re: Best keyboard?

        Unicomp bought all the Model M tooling and kit from IBM and the keyboards they make are pretty much identical to the originals save for things like USB and Windows keys. They even have the thick steel backboard like the original.

        I like the Model M but I'd get crucified if I used one in the office for the racket they make. Cherry have a nice range of keyboards that have fairly quiet mechanical switches.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Best keyboard?

          @firefly: same here. I've got a fair pile of Model M's at home (some in use, the remainder in storage), and a Cherry 3000 at work. Although, given the noise the guys behind me tend to make when discussing whatever matter it is that needs discussing, I expect even a dozen Model M's operated in parallel would go unnoticed.

          1. Tom 38 Silver badge

            Re: Best keyboard?

            If you have a model-m, the problem of people complaining about the noise of your typing is not actually a problem, you can't hear them over the keys. I've been on conference calls where my boss has told me to mute myself, since my typing of notes is louder than the people on the phone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Best keyboard?

      The IBM Model M - and the DAS Professional - with the Cherry Blue switches ( noisy ones ).

      I have both.

      I love HEAVY keyboards that rattle away like machine guns......

      However the IDIOTS at Unicomp - (excuse the stupid American jab) - they still have the habit of sending ONE keyboard overseas at the MOST expensive rate possible.....

      So you pay $80 for the keyboard and $80 in postage, where as other vendors freight them for $20 a piece...

      Hence the repurchase was a DAS, mostly out of spite towards an idiot sales dept at Unicomp with their lazy deadbeat manager.

      Unicomp - too stupid to imaginate (like offer better postage rates or package deals in the first place), and too stupid to listen or take advantage of worthwhile feed back (like take the advice of using better postage rates or package deals - after decades of pricing themselves out of the market on shipping alone).

    3. Mick Sheppard

      Re: Best keyboard?

      The best keyboard I've used was an Apple Adjustable Keyboard that I bought to replace the POS that was the Apple Design Keyboard that was apparently giving me RSI by the character typed.

      This was in a time before the return of Steve, when Apple made beige boxes and not even the salesmen knew the different between the different models, however the keyboard was fantastic. Not least because it forced me to learn to touch type.

  2. HeyMickey
    Facepalm

    Editor gone down the pub already?

    WTF the first two paragraphs are repeated!?!?

    Yes, I know there is a 'corrections' link but it's much more fun to mock the Reg in public...

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Editor gone down the pub already?

      Be reasonable. I only filed my copy about 30 seconds before it was supposed to go live. My fault, not the editor's.

      1. Dave 62
        Pint

        Re: Editor gone down the pub already?

        If you'd been using a proper keyboard with heavy action you'd have got it done much quicker and you wouldn't have double-tapped that (ctrl+)c key!

  3. Richard 31
    Paris Hilton

    Microswitches

    You cannot beat a proper microswitch keyboard. It is worth all the comments from people about how loud you are typing to actually be able to tell when you are pressing the keys properly. And they seem to last forever, My Dell keyboard has been going strong for at least 12 years, which is odd because the company i work for never had any Dell servers or desktops. I will be keeping it when i move to another computer. I expect i will have to buy an adapter for it as noone seems to make new computers with PS/2 connectors anymore.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Microswitches

      Probably because people like me although wasnt supposed to order Dell's when they could order some test ones, its surprising as some of the Dell keyboards are still floating around here.

    2. Nexox Enigma

      Re: Microswitches

      I, too, never owned a Dell, but I spent years combing over surplus computer outlets to acquire a nice stack of their mechanical keyboards for quite cheaply (sadly they seem to be all gone from those sorts of places.) I have had a few die, but they'll do for parts when the rest of my stash needs them.

      My favorite part (other than the keys) is the steel plate stuck in there to add heft - a single keyboard weighs more than a typical laptop.

    3. Fuzz

      Re: Microswitches

      The Dell keyboards were re-badged IBM model Ms

      I got rid of mine because of A. the noise and B the footprint on the desk.

    4. dajames Silver badge

      PS/2?

      I expect i will have to buy an adapter for it as noone seems to make new computers with PS/2 connectors anymore.

      My keyboard is so old that it needs an adaptor to fit my PS/2 KVM switch!

      I's just a cheapo ALPS jobbie, but it amuses me to keep it because it was supplied by Dan Computers, and so has my name silk-screened onto one corner.

  4. Piro

    Hm, you can make your own changes

    In layout, for example. I use mostly custom layout that puts my hands further apart.

    There are also nice ergonomic keyboards available: Maltron, Kinesis.. for the hardcore, the DataHand..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hm, you can make your own changes

      Or good ol' TypeMatrix, with a Dvorak layout (or equivalent, depending on your native language).

      Add a vertical mouse to the mix (eg. Evoluent's) and the RSI goes away in just 2 weeks.

      As far as I am concerned, it was the best investment ever.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Don't count on RSI going away, not when you've properly got it.

        I've got a version of it and I seem to be stuck with it. But a keyboard bent around the middle letters so that your fingers line up with your forearms instead of bending from the wrist can avoid it coming on in the first place. I haven't seen this as a touch-type option in tablet on-screen keyboards and I think that's a pity. I think speech recognition is the future, although by now it should have been the present. And in the meantime, I'm using "Fitaly" on-screen with a stylus, at about half of my former proper typing speed. It's good for what it is, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't count on RSI going away, not when you've properly got it.

          >I haven't seen this as a touch-type option in tablet on-screen keyboards and I think that's a pity.

          Well, touchscreen keyboards seem to be designed for those people that type with exactly one finger out of ten (usually the right index; the tongue sticking out while they type is optional but a nice additional touch). That takes "touch typing" to a whole new level. :)

    2. dvd

      Re: Hm, you can make your own changes

      Typing this on a Maltron - with the proper Maltron key layout too. Great keyboard.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Gimp

    BBC Master

    Was messing around with my BBC Master the other night and although the keyboard is very clunky and noisy, it's actually very nice to use. Suspect the noise would do your head in if you had to use it all day though (as well as annoy anyone nearby).

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Roby

    I like proper keyboards, with big keys that you can tell when you've pressed them. They last ages and I find them easier (although maybe I'm just used to them). I don't like laptop keyboards or ultra thin keys, and I've often found them to be questionable (sometimes requiring a firm press to get a response).

    I don't beat my keyboards into submission because since I am quite young I never used a typewriter. My fingers fly over the keys pushing them just enough to get a response, but I still like the traditional basic Dell or Logitech black keyboard with large keys where you can really feel you have pushed the key. My dad learnt to type on a typewriter and he murders keyboards and claims he cannot relearn to stop hitting the keys so hard.

    1. Gavin King
      Happy

      Funny your old man would say that; I learnt to type on a typewriter, but the only residue from that, that I notice, is a preference for the keyboard to be at quite a steep angle.

      A do know that my old Imperial 66 typewriter had a couple of pressure settings on the keys: there was a lever that adjusted the tension on the return spring for the keys. It was never as light-touch as something like a laptop keyoard, but it was quite close. The biggest problem seems to be that as you make the spring looser (the keys "softer") the maximum typing speed would go down, as the type didn't come away from the paper quite as fast. This made a trade-off between speed and strength. I almost always went for the soft, since my typing wasn't (as still isn't) very fast at all.

      Still, I must agree that the tactile feedback is essential, especially if transcribing something, It is nice to know from touch that the letters are in fact there. This is something that bothers me about the preponderance of flat laptop-style keypads: they don't seem to have enough travel, and the mechanisms don't have a decided "on-off" point; that is, they almost seem to vary a little as one is typing so that what is a sufficient pressure with one key-press is not for another.

      You know, I think I'm going to dig out the old typewriter and have a play with it now. Lets see if I can upset the neighbours with the racket of flying metal!

  8. Atrophic Cerebrum

    What happened to the Optimus keyboard? http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/maximus/

    I thought this was quite a good idea.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But WAY too expensive.

      http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/04/the-optimus-max/

      No one wants a computer where the keyboard is the most expensive piece of hardware. Besides, there is a question about the longevity of the keys. There is something to be said about simplicity, which is why microswitch keyboards last so long.

      1. Atrophic Cerebrum

        Yes it's definetly too expensive if it's not in mass production. I would have thought it could be a lot cheaper if it was mass produced. Couldn't you also implement a similar idea but instead of using screens in each button you just have a single screen underneath the keys with lenses in each button to project the image, not much different to backlighted keyboards as they are.

  9. Sil

    Mechanical it is

    After years of typing on soft keyboards I treated myself to a mechanical keyboard and boy I don't want to type on everything else. Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!

    1. Wize

      Re: Mechanical it is

      Soft keyboards will never replace physical keyboard for heavy use. To be able to type at a reasonable speed you have to be able to touch the keys, feel their position relative to each other, and your finger's position relative to the middle of the key. You don't get that with a soft keyboard. The most you get is a buzz or a beep telling you that you've hit a key somewhere on its screen. You also run the risk of false presses as your hand moves too close to the surface.

      I still have a phone with a slide out keyboard and still use it when I need to type something bigger than a quick text message.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mechanical it is

        "To be able to type at a reasonable speed you have to be able to touch the keys, feel their position relative to each other, and your finger's position relative to the middle of the key."

        There has been research into flat surfaces which fool the fingertips with the "feeling" of touching a moving solid key. They use various methods eg jets of air; vibrating surfaces. Not sure if any of them are reaching a viable mass production stage.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mechanical it is

      "Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!"

      I have a feeling the Amstrad PPC512 had a mechanical keyboard back in the late 80's! - http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=195

      1. stucs201

        Re: PPC

        I very much doubt the PPC had a proper mechanical keyboard. Although I never used one I suspect they were basically the same as the cheap keyboards used by the desktop equivalents (after all the whole point of buying an Amstrad PC was they were so much cheaper than most of the competition). At least the PPC had all the right keys and in the right places though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mechanical it is

      Kudos to the first company that will integrate mechanical keyboards to notebooks!

      My Sparc based laptop had a mechanical keyboard. I can't remember the brand, but they were eventually bought out by the folks that made Sparcbooks. The downside was that the steel case the machine was in, which meant that using it on my actual lap would result in the flow of blood to my legs being cut off ...

  10. Thomas 4

    The best kind of keyboard

    ...is one you can beat a man to death with and type his obituary on afterwards.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best kind of keyboard

      My Filco Majestouch whole heartedly agrees.

    2. J P

      Re: The best kind of keyboard

      You mean like one of these: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/15/usb_typewriters/

      (That's the second time I've been able to use this link in one of Mr Dabbs' forums in the last 3 months; he clearly has a thing about keyboards...)

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: The best kind of keyboard

        I don't have a thing about keyboards. I'm just short of ideas.

        1. keithpeter
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: The best kind of keyboard

          "I don't have a thing about keyboards. I'm just short of ideas."

          Write about the joys and troubles of working in other people's offices, and from a home office. That's topical. The one about the old guys running a business *around* computers was fun.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best kind of keyboard

      My introduction to computintg was using a teletype (ASR-33 I think .... waves of nostalgia came over me when I saw one at the start of a "look how computing has developed" in the National Media Museum in Bradford last year !) ... a "proper" keyboard which would come off the winner if/when you hit it in a fit of anger about something didn't work as planned! They don't make them like that any more!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The best kind of keyboard

        Yes, but being brought up on ASR-33s is why some of us still bang the keys so hard. I like to be able to get to the end of a line with no characters missing, without having to look at what I'm typing.

        I simply cannot understand people who sacrifice a proper keyboard on a smartphone for a bigger touchscreen. It's definitely fashion over function.

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: The best kind of keyboard

      Beat a man to death, clean it off in a dishwasher and then write his obituary on.

    5. Helldesk Dogsbody
      Thumb Up

      @ Thomas 4 & AC

      The steel plate that acts as a base to my Filco Majectouch TKL also agrees with you. The perfect portable weapon for all occasions :)

      1. keithpeter
        Windows

        Re: @ Thomas 4 & AC

        "The steel plate that acts as a base to my Filco Majectouch TKL also agrees with you. The perfect portable weapon for all occasions :)"

        Available new, UK made, down the road from me, bit expensive. Are they really noisy? Might spring for one as the ten quid no name sponge monster I use at present is getting knackered.

        Tramp icon because at £120 the keyboard is 50% as much as my recycled Xeon base unit

  11. Len Goddard

    Still the best

    I'm typing this on a genuine IBM Model M keyboard (made in 1985 according to the label on the back). The only potential problem is the lack of a "windows" key but I'm running linux so who cares. I suspect the keyboard will outlive me.

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
      Thumb Up

      Re: Still the best

      My Model M [ '87 version] is also going strong - in daily use - now on PS2 connector + cable - all the insulation cracked and fell off the original. Couldn't find anyone selling the right cable+connector into keyboard so had to splice/solder into remnants of old cable. Excellent afternoons 'farting about' with a good result at the end.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Despite this, people insist that the best keyboard they ever used was one they had a long time ago.

    Because the ones they are remembering were usually proper mechanical keyboards and not cheap rubber dome USB shit they bought in Tesco for three fifty.

    Pay at least £75 for a decent mechanical and get the PS/2 version if at all possible. There are plenty around and are usually based on cherry switches which come in different travel / action / sound flavours. The difference is like night and day.

    If you really want to go overboard then get one of the £300 Topre based ones that pretty much fellate you whilst you are typing.

    1. brain_flakes
      WTF?

      PS/2?

      Why on earth would you want the PS/2 version instead of USB? So you can enjoy the "convenience" of not being able to chain it to a hub or using it on anything other than a desktop pc?

      1. Bakunin
        Holmes

        Re: PS/2?

        PS/2 has no limit on simultaneous key presses. However, USB is limited to (I think) six regular keys. Additionally some operating systems / BIOS setups / embedded systems don't support USB keyboards.

        Personally I stick to USB as it's usable on a wider selection of "regular" machines, but I can see why some people might prefer PS/2 . For those odd situations I keep an old PS/2 as well as an IBM AT keyboard at the back of the cupboard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: PS/2?

          One issue, what was the last bit of kit you had a PS/2 port on?

          1. stucs201

            Re: One issue, what was the last bit of kit you had a PS/2 port on?

            Both my home desktop and the docking station for my work laptop have them.

          2. Bakunin
            Holmes

            Re: PS/2?

            "One issue, what was the last bit of kit you had a PS/2 port on?"

            The two Dell boxes I'm sat in front of at work right now, the desktop and server sat at home and the media PC under the TV. With the exception of the media PC they're all under five years old.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: PS/2?

            "what was the last bit of kit you had a PS/2 port on?"

            MSI still make motherboards with PS/2 connectors. Local councils/ NHS trusts tend to want them. Partly to reuse keyboards and mice from the older kit being replaced (a 1000 keyboards and mice are worth a few extra PCs on the order) and in the case of NHS trusts, lots of legacy kit such as card readers and barcode scanners use the PS/2 ports.

            1. pepper

              Re: PS/2?

              my ASUS mobo, bought last may still has a single PS2 port, for both the mouse and keyboard(so you can only hook up one).

            2. dajames Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: PS/2?

              ... NHS trusts tend to want them. Partly to reuse keyboards and mice from the older kit being replaced (a 1000 keyboards and mice are worth a few extra PCs on the order) ...

              More than that if the PS/2 keyboards in question have been splatter-proofed so they can be kept sterile with a quick wipe of disinfectant ... that doesn't come cheap!

              <-- Autoclave icon, because there's no biohazard symbol available!

          4. DaiKiwi
            Thumb Up

            Re: PS/2?

            The 2012-released AM3+ motherboard I bought last month has one.

          5. Simple solution

            Re: PS/2?

            My brand new server with a Supermicro mobo, 2 Xeons and so forth. It proudly sports a PS/2 port.

        2. Simple solution
          Coffee/keyboard

          Re: PS/2?

          Gamer's keyboards solve the simultaneous key press problem by registering themselves more than once with the os. The Black Widow on which I type this text - very, very similar in general clicketyness to the original IBM keyboard - registers itself 3 times with the BIOS and also with Linux. Logitech ones even register themselves 6 times. Problem solved.

    2. Fihart

      ".......the ones they are remembering were usually proper mechanical keyboards and not cheap rubber dome USB shit they bought in Tesco for three fifty."

      I don't just remember proper mechanical keyboard, I still use it daily -- 1990 vintage IBM PS/2, clicktastic and indestructible.

    3. Bodestone

      PS/2

      Really? I can't see how buying a PS/2 keyboard and not being able to plug it in will improve things.

      Even for machines with the sockets I must be missing something what difference that would make.

      1. pepper

        Re: PS/2

        Didnt the USB issue have more to do with ghosting in the keyboard matrix? Proper mechanical keyboards dont have that problem though.

        One thing I do know is that the PS2 version doesnt have a buffer, but is that really a issue with the current USB speeds? Doesnt it more have to do with the hardware itself?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PS/2

        > Even for machines with the sockets I must be missing something what difference that would make

        PS/2 keyboards have two advantages, firstly they are n key rollover meaning that you can press ALL the buttons at once whereas USB only supports 6 simultaneous key presses.

        Secondly PS/2 boards send a hardware interrupt on each key press. By contrast the USB bus is polled, which introduces a (tiny) delay, uses CPU time, doesn't guarantee the order of the key presses or even that they will actually make it through. This is further complicated by 'debounce' delays which render increased polling rates moot.

        If you can use PS/2 then there is no reason to trade down to USB, especially if you are a gamer, but if you don't have it then it's probably not a burning issue.

        1. pepper

          Re: PS/2

          Thank you AC, very enlighting.

          I'm wondering, is the USB limitations hardware or software? It doesnt seems needed given the capabilities of USB.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 19:00

          There are two separate issues.

          1. How many simultaneous keys can the keyboard handle? My laptop keyboard, which uses PS2 internally, supports approximately four key presses, plus modifier keys. e.g. I cannot type "QWERT" without releasing any keys (the "T" is ignored) though I can type "QWERL". The variance is probably a reflection of the matrix the keys are wired to.

          2. How many simultaneous keys can the protocol (PS2 or USB) handle? As you say, PS2 is unlimited (it just sends key up/key down messages). USB sends a packet with eight bits representing the state of the eight modifier keys (shift, ctrl, alt and "gui" on left and right) and six bytes containing the key codes of up to six keys. So you get up to six keys with unlimited modifiers.

          In practice, I've never used a keyboard that could handle unlimited key presses. Older PS2 keyboards tend to beep if you press too many keys. Maybe I've never spent enough money on one.

    4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      The keyboard hasn't evolved because...

      The keyboard hasn't evolved because it reached it's pinnacle with the IBM Model M. Indestructible & effectively immortal (most are over 20 years old and effectively in new condition.) Best key feel of any keyboard I've ever used. Accurate and fast. Heavy enough to beat someone over the head with if you want and then keep typing afterwards. The keys all pop off and it has drain holes, so it can even be run through the dishwasher (I don't do this, though, I pop the keys and scrape out all the cat hair every so often). I had one fall out of a box of keyboards and accidentally ran it over with the forklift. It still worked (...yes, it was damaged.) As AC (March 1, 12:47 GMT) says, people that pine over their old keyboards pine over them because they are not rubber garbage like too many keyboards these days (ESPECIALLY these days, when some vendors now thing everything will be touch screen and the keyboard is a barely needed afterthought.)

      I'm now going to look up the Topre. I don't have that kind of scratch for a keyboard but I'm intrigued.

      1. Len Goddard

        Re: The keyboard hasn't evolved because...

        I never put one in a dishwasher but many years ago I knocked a cup of coffee over one, so I took it to the washroom and ran water through it until it came out clean then just left it on the window to dry out in the sunlight. It was still working fine a year later.

    5. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge
      Joke

      If you really want to go overboard then get one of the £300 Topre based ones that pretty much fellate you whilst you are typing.

      I have to ask. How would that work in the case that one were of the female persuasion?

    6. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Pay at least £75

      don't know where you shop but quality IBM keyboards can be had for £7.20 inc VAT [ http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard_details.asp?PRODUCT=304 ]. Unfortunately these aren't the versions with the wrist rest, which I purchased back in 2000 and not yet have one fail, although I have replaced the systems they've been attached too several times...

      Otherwise I've been buying and using keyboards with lower case keycaps - these are fantastic for children (and adults with poorer eyesight and/or reading problems) as they are taught using lower case letters. But don't expect to get these or any decent quality keyboard in the high st.

      The real irritation is that there are very few good trackballs/mice about. Currently the Kensington Trackball with Scroll Ring seems to be holding up well - although I'm not happy about the quality of materials used and the build quality, so will be impressed if they survive a whole year of use. {Would of preferred a Logitech Trackman Marble updated to include a scroll capability).

    7. DropBear Silver badge

      What is this newfangled PS/2 thing you're talking about...? Mine has a DIN-5 plug, and you better believe I'm not kidding - It's the keyboard I've bought with my first 386 PC. It's the only surviving component of that machine, and nowadays it's plugged in with a DIN/PS2 adapter, but it works just as fine as it did on day one - all it needs is a bit of cleaning now and then. It's not a heavyweight lead-base model, or even a particularly clicky one, but it sure as heck beats any "laptop-type" shallow-travel abomination for me. And please don't even ask me whether it has a windows key...

    8. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      IBM Model M

      People are talking about Mechanical and Model M in the same comments. As a complete fan of the IBM Model M, I was actually disappointed to find when I tried to clean some Tizer or Irn Bru from one of mine (that child of mine will never be fully forgiven) that once you get through the deep hex head screws and plastic welded lugs, what sits under the buckling spring mechanism is still a membrane keyboard, just with the aforementioned spring and plastic rocker sitting on top.

      So no microswitches (in fact, I'm not really sure any keyboard used microswitches), although keyboards from the late 1970's and 1980's had discrete push-to-make release-to-break key switches soldered directly onto PCBs. My Issue 3 BBC micro ended up with more solder on the back of the keyboard PBC than metal track, because the repeated strain on the soldered pins would lift the PCB track from the board, and break it.

      I remember Newbury Data RS232 terminals from my time a University having the same problem. You would often find one with the 'return' key nor working, which everybody avoided, but could still be used with Ctrl-M instead!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I type quite gently.

    Apart from executing commands into a console.

    <tap-tap-tap>commands<tap-tap-tap> <re-read to make sure I'm not doing anything stupid whilst my hand moves over to the enter key> <SLAM!>

  14. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    Heheh

    Got myself a couple of Das Keyboard ultimate last year. Had to RMA one since apparently there was something wrong with it and gave up the ghost half a year later. Well it was swapped and I'm happily typing on the new thing. As for sound. I use one at home and one at work and nobody has yet complained about the noise levels and I do a lot of typing. But it helps people know if I'm in the office since they can hear me type hehe.

  15. Nigel Whitfield.

    Tactile Pro

    I'm a great fan of the Matias Tactile Pro; I have version 3, but the key switches are the same ALPS ones as in the latest (and in some of the classic Mac keyboards). I had the original one too, and wore it out after several years. Not that cheap - £100 - but well worth if if you really do spend a lot of time writing. It says 'For Mac' but it's USB, and works just fine for Windows. For Mac users, though, it's even more useful as all the odd symbols are on the keycaps too, which saves remembering them.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

    As endless tech pundits have pontificated for decades.

    And maybe for mobile devices they are right. I don't get why more phones don't have a serious go at voice recognition, given that speech input/output is supposed to be a core capability.

    But for fast high volume text input a panel filled with dish topped buttons looks the way to for the foreseeable future.

    Of course people might mind less if the qwerty layout was not intentionally stupid, but with no consensus on a better one I guess we're stuck with it. But lets be frank, several of the others can stomp it into the ground for speed.

    Guess I'm still waiting for that direct neural interface tech to read the text straight out of my brain, William Gibson style.

    <sigh>

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

      "I don't get why more phones don't have a serious go at voice recognition, given that speech input/output is supposed to be a core capability."

      For that suggestion, you will be consigned to a special hell where you are eternally stuck on a bus with a load of teenagers speaking text messages into their phones.

      The reason that voice-input isn't in common usage isn't necessarily technical, it's because people don't want it, principally because sitting in front of your computer talking to it makes you look like a massive arse.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Neural interface would possibly suffer from a major problem.

        Picture it. Men are, apparently, thinking about sex every seven seconds. So all that lovely prose written to bosses, clients, parents, friends, lovers (oh, wait), wife, husband, gas board, HMRC ad infinitum will be interspersed with pr0n.

        Apparently.

        ...nd so she moved, in a lithe, almost lazy manner, toward me, lips parted... ^h^h^h^h^h. *

        *Or whatever encoding method that will be adopted for a neural interface. As long as it isn't EBCDIC.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

        "The reason that voice-input isn't in common usage isn't necessarily technical, it's because people don't want it, principally because sitting in front of your computer talking to it makes you look like a massive arse."

        No it's because I don't want to spend 20 minutes "making corrections" to a voice command produced document, that I could have simply typed up in 5 minutes.

        The brain to finger interface, is surprisingly good, fast and easy - with a very high degree of accuracy.

        The voice recognition typing systems - 10 years ago, they were horrible..... Dragon Dictate and Natural Speech...

        and now?

        http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2010/12/22/there-is-free-speech-recognizing-software-built-into-windows-7-that-will-take-dictation/

        How close are we to the Star Trek ideal of conversational computers that never get it wrong?

        Well, we’re getting there. It turns out that after a decade of buyouts, mergers and embezzlement scandals, there is only one major speech-recognition company left: Nuance Communications. It sells the only commercial dictation software for Windows, for Macintosh and for iPhone. Its technology drives the voice-command systems in cars from Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes and cell phones from Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Verizon and T-Mobile. It powers voice-activated toys, GPS units and cash machines, and it answers the phone at AT&T, Bank of America, CVS and many others.

        Every year Nuance releases another new version of its consumer dictation programs, such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Usually it doesn’t add many new features. Instead it devotes most of its resources to a single goal: improving accuracy….

        Ende Quote:

        Yes the phone and bank voice recognition system is certainly so commendable to the point I refuse to use it, and I don't hold any more enthusiasm for the typing programs either......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

      "Of course people might mind less if the qwerty layout was not intentionally stupid, but with no consensus on a better one I guess we're stuck with it."

      The terminal room in the European Economic Community offices had to cater for layout variants for the major country members. There were sometimes queues for the terminals. So when you sat down you didn't know if you were getting a QWERTY, QWERTZ, or AZERTY layout. They didn't provide a language specific one for Danish. In Scandinavian offices my most common typo was between the letters o,0,ö or o,0,∅- as they are all close to each other on the keyboards.

      Talking with my Israeli godson on ICQ was interesting as he accidentally switched from Hebrew to English fonts and back again - and the displayed text automatically switched from left-to-right to right-to-left. One day I must ask him if he has to type numbers in the order of their least significant digits first.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

      voice recognition + public transport = everybody thinks you are a dick. And the people who talk in the "quiet" carriages, well, they are dicks.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

      "And maybe for mobile devices they are right. I don't get why more phones don't have a serious go at voice recognition, given that speech input/output is supposed to be a core capability."

      Yes I am prone to violent compulsions at pure badly implemented and outright stupidity - and yes I have had the wave of Voice Dictation systems that flowed down the pipe and seemed to have disappeared......

      Forever retraining the fucking programs to recognise speech...

      It ended up being just easier to ignore them and not use the dictate to text functions....

      Sure things may have improved.... BUT

      Telstra in Australia (a royal Fuck YOU) use voice recognition in the directory assistance.... at least while your prepared to be stupid enough to engage with it.......

      "Please name the person or company you are after."

      "Over the hill chemists"

      "I am having trouble understanding you. Did you mean "I am over the hill"? or "Are you on the pill"?"

      ARggggggggggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

      And it just gets fucking worse from there.

      IF I actually have to call that shit hole of ineptitude (Telstra's directory assistance), I use a hands free phone, put it on the desk, I stay silent for the minute or so for the system to bypass all the automated bullshit, and wait till I can talk to a real person.

      So unless the voice recognition systems really become consistently accurate and very sensitive to the nuances of human variations and subtleties - and run at 99.999% accuracy, the brain finger interface will be the final filtering and input system for some time to come.

      Of course people tend to resent running at 99.999% accuracy also as well.

      "Repeat after me children, "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. etc"

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "The keyboard will be obsolete in 10 years"

      Of course people might mind less if the qwerty layout was not intentionally stupid

      Myth (if there's anything here other than unsubstantiated opinion). The QWERTY layout was designed quite intelligently, to meet an important engineering requirement: splitting the most common English digraphs between the two sides of the keyboard, to minimize lever collisions.

      But lets be frank, several of the others can stomp it into the ground for speed.

      Yes, let's be frank. Please cite even one reputable study showing any other key arrangement permits a significantly faster typing speed for a majority of typists.

      See for example [1], which cites many of the challenges to Dvorak's own self-serving study. Also note that while the author is a fan of the Dvorak arrangement and believes it reduces his RSI, his own (anecdotal) experience showed only a modest speed improvement with the Dvorak (from 80 NWPM to 90; that might save you an hour if you're transcribing an entire novel or something, but few people type enough for that to make a difference). And that delta could be explained by numerous factors besides the layout.

      Other studies show advantages for the Dvorak of between 2 and 6 percent.[2] Hardly "stomp[ing] it into the ground".

      As for voice recognition: it's been available on PCs for at least two decades, and some people do report having used it successfully to dictate when they were unable to use a keyboard due to injuries, for example. There are plenty of reasons why it's never become popular, as others have pointed out in this thread.

      Personally, I have never found any need for anything more efficient than the keyboard for text input - not for writing code, or writing prose of whatever genre. (And I've written a lot of both.) Of course I do touch-type, having learned it, like Alistair, in my schoolboy days. And on a proper mechanical typewriter too.

      [1] http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/jcb/Dvorak/

      [2] http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/2975/does-the-dvorak-keyboard-increase-typing-speed

  17. AndrueC Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    The worst keyboard I ever used was an 80s era Olivetti. The first few millimetres of travel were lovely and cushioned. Then you hit the end stop. It was really quite peculiar. Clearly they had springs (it was a decent 'business class' product) but just didn't have enough travel.

    The best I ever used was a Compaq keyboard of the same era. Even though I tended to hammer the keys those were so light that even I ended up floating my fingers across them.

  18. Leona A
    Happy

    back then when keyboards where good!

    Yep back then when you could hear and feel the keyboard 'click' on a chunky and quality keyboard.

    I am a touch typist, and very short sighted (almost blind), thankfully (or not depends on your point of view) I don't have the same problem with random characters appearing in my sentences though (would make for interesting coding!).

    Thankfully the computer here at work has a good feel, but as for the laptop, its an awful keyboard, I am constantly making mistakes on it, in fact I plug the PC's keyboard into it to use it, I HATE that laptop's keyboard with a passion, no feedback, no feel, no click, its dreadful!

    Now at home, I have a 10+ year old 'Cheery' keyboard, it was white once upon a time, but as you might imagine its a bit grubby now, gives loads of feedback, clicks, very comfortable to use, never misses a click, but my partner, in her wisdom, tried to give me a very thoughtful valentines gift, by replacing it with a pink one, while I loved the colour, oh gosh how could I tell her it was awful, just like the laptop one, no feedback, keys in the wrong places, thankfully it was faulty! so I have my Cheery back till a replacement arrives, but she is determined to get rid of my old keyboard, over my dead body will that ever happen!

    Modern Keyboards are cr@p and that is that! They do not make them like they used it.

    1. Helldesk Dogsbody
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: back then when keyboards where good!

      Cherry still make some good mechanical keyboards, Filco are excellent, Das have a great reputation as do Leopold but I've not used either of those myself. Unicomp still make the classic Model M style clicky-clacky keyboard if you can get hold of them and they are exactly as they used to be made.

      Mechanical keyboards are on the rise, they've become the latest and greatest for gaming and will be back in to mainstream computing soon enough. For now they're a little pricey compared to the regular ones but a worthwhile investment if you spend all day using one.

      From what you're saying it sounds like you could do with giving something like a Filco Majestouch with blue switches a go as they have both a tactile bump and audible click when they activate. Then if you really want pink you can order a pink keycap set for it (WASD keyboards do them at around $50, they'll fit any standard Cherry switches).

      I bought a Filco for home and then had to buy another for the office as there was no way I was prepared to use what they referred to as a keyboard after that. £200 in toal for both but well worth it as a year down the line they're both as good as when I bought them.

      Keyboard icon as it sounds like you owe yourself a new one!

  19. Miffo

    Don't those awful Microsoft keyboards with the gap down the middle count as a re-design? Apparently the big gap makes them a lot better. There's 2 guys at work who still have them - my touch typing on them doesn't work as I must use the wrong finger for some of the borderline buttons.

    1. Mark #255

      re: split keyboards

      I had one of those, and it was very good (the idea is that you don't need to bend at the wrists). Unfortunately it was killed by a glass of orange squash :-(

      According to real touch-typists I know (I only play one in Youtube dramas) the split was in the wrong place - I think the B was on the wrong side.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: re: split keyboards

        That was it. Those Microsoft bendy keyboards were brilliant. Because you kept your wrists at the natural angle - so there was much less strain on them.

        Unfortunately, the B was not in the place that I learnt to type. It should be typed by the right index finger, not the left. I suppose if I'd bought one, I'd have learned to change my typing style. After all, when I worked in Belgium, I soon learned to cope with an Azerty (yuck!) and the fact that my KB didn't have a £ and was too old to have a € (ALT+0128 if you're interested).

        I must say I'm much more of a glider on the keys than I used to be. I learnt at primary school, on an old Imperial manual typewriter. There was over an inch of travel in the keys - and my poor, tiny, 11-year-old, little fingers really struggled to get any ink on paper at all with those A's and P's... I had to really slam them down. I'm still a bit clickety-clackety when typing at full speed, or banging in something short like a command or web address. But I found that playing the piano got me to be a bit more delicate, once I'd moved from manual typewriter to computer.

  20. Abot13

    second hand

    I bought a bunch of old HP and IBM PC's a decade ago. for 10 each. They were all complete with mouse and keyboard. I tossed the systems and the mice. But now I do have a lifetime supply of My favorite keyboards. same feel as the ALPS based keyboards, but at about a tenth of the price, these things last and can be found second hand almost everywhere.

    but that might be the reason that everybody had to switch to crap keyboards that break down on saturdayevening one day after warrranty ends.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. TeeCee Gold badge

    Big 'n heavy?

    You'll be liking the one on the old IBM 5251 terminal then. Fully capable of derailing freight trains if left in the wrong place and so thick that if you wanted to use one as a door wedge you'd need to buy a medieval castle first. Built into a heavy steel casing, it looked a bit like a Commodore VIC-20 upgraded to survive nuclear warfare.

    The thickness meant it was impossible to rest your hands on the desk while using it, so you didn't so much type on it as play it, like a maestro at a concert grand piano. Unfortunately, the only note it played was <CLACK>. One being typed on sounded like a Maxim gun and a roomful in use sounded like a squadron of Sopwith Camels and a circus of Fokker DIIIs in a dogfight. AFAIK the only keyboard ever made which offered deafness as a side effect in addition to RSI.

    Bloody horrible, but utterly indestructible.

    1. Ryan 7
      Thumb Up

      Re: Big 'n heavy?

      That was a masterpiece. Best thing I've read this year.

    2. jonathan rowe
      Thumb Up

      5250 terminals

      Nice article thanks.

      We had one (decision data?) which had 2 rows of function keys: F1-F12 & F13-F24, need to hit F23? - no prob - we don't need no stinkin shift key.

      But curiously, page up/page down was by using shift-up and shift-down arrow. By far a more popular key press than any of the upstart newly promoted function keys.

      What the green screen god giveth, the green screen god taketh away.

      Oh, yes and one word for decent keyboards... cherry.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Big 'n heavy?

      The 5250 series keyboards also featured a bunch of keys that had no function, other than to lock the terminal with the "invalid key" indicator (which was cleared by hitting the keyboard-reset key). I always found that delightfully perverse.

      Oh, and built-in hexadecimal character entry ("Hex" key) and keyboard macros (record and play keys). Made the 3270s seem downright intuitive.

      I was sorry to get rid of our old twinax 5250 units. Yes, they were a horrible waste of space, since we could just run TN5250 emulators under Windows or UNIX; but you knew you were a serious computer operator when you were banging on that 5250.

  23. Velv Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    N S F W

    Can't beat the G Point Mouse:

    Just google g+point+mouse+images

  24. Frankee Llonnygog

    i dont konw what all the d=fss is about

    i an type equakky wwll on amy keybsoer anf make =hedkriy any mistajkes

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: i dont konw what all the d=fss is about

      Did you type the same way when you created your @TheRegister account?

      Well, I thought it was funny at the time.

  25. B-D

    I use a Krups Dominator myself... Company policy.

    There is a youtube video of a chap modifying his keyboard to provide analogue W A S and D keys for gaming, I won't link to it as there is slight vulgarity in it, but a search for "XBOX Controller Mods: Analog WASD Gaming Keyboard " will bring up the goods.

  26. Psyx
    Thumb Up

    Frankly, everything since the ZX81 has been an improvement... right until I first tried typing on a fondleslab.

  27. thesykes

    It may not have been that good, but, my favourite keyboard was on my first computer. I was still at school and the schools computers comprised a BBC B, Apple IIe, a couple of Sharp MZ-80Ks and a scattering of Spectrums.

    None of them could match the keyboard on my TI-99/4a.

    Perfect size keyboard for my hands at the time.

  28. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Windows

    The best keyboard they ever used was one they had a long time ago

    That'd be the ZX Spectrum rubber keyboard then and sad to say it probably does beat some keyboards I've used lately.

    (Has that Bluetooth keyboard by Elite that I remember reading about come out yet? I'd check the website but some killjoy's put their address in the damn proxy.)

    1. Psyx

      Re: The best keyboard they ever used was one they had a long time ago

      "That'd be the ZX Spectrum rubber keyboard then and sad to say it probably does beat some keyboards I've used lately."

      I was never a fan of sweat-drenched keys myself. Or having to use fifteen types of shift-mode to write anything.

  29. The Axe
    Thumb Up

    Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard

    That's the best keyboard. Yep, the ones with a gap down the middle with the two halves at a slight angle. I bought two (one home, one for work) in 2001. Other than an annual disassembly to clear out the food, hair, skin and bugs, I abuse them on a daily basis and they are still going strong. The key legends haven't been worn away, though the left shift is just starting to. And no RSI.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard

      The B key is on the wrong side. I kept banging my finger into empty space, because there was no key there. Once you've learnt to touch type, it's bloody hard to unlearn. But I agree they were nice keyboards. Although they were also bloody enormous!

      1. trialanderr0r
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard

        I've been using these for years. They're great for removing strain from your wrists (albeit by passing it right on to your shoulders). Unfortunately the build quality is getting worse and worse over the years. Crappy radio and poorly responsive keys on my latest one (after about a year or two they get so filthy I tend to get a new one). My latest one has a dodgy "control" key - which doesn't always respond. You can imagine the fun that is...

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard

      Rather subjective, I'd say. I loathe the things myself.

      I've used a huge variety of keyboards: mechanical and electric typewriter; the old 8-bitters including membrane and chiclet styles; the original IBM M; various terminals (VT-100, 3270, 5250, some hard-copy terminal I can't remember the name of, etc); keyboards from Sun, HP, and IBM UNIX workstations; a variety of Apple machines from the II (not bad) through various generations of Macs (ugh); more laptops than I can count or remember; and so on. Oh, and the tiny QWERTY keyboard on my slider phone. I've even been forced, by terrorists, to use virtual keyboards on touchscreens once or twice. The only ones I really can't stand are the touchscreens and the "ergonomic" keyboards.

      I admit, though, that I have never encountered any product claiming to be ergonomic that I found in any way an improvement over its non-ergonomic version. No doubt that stuff works for many users, but thus far I've disliked all of it.

  30. Adam Hartfield
    Mushroom

    Another

    IBM Model M fanatic here... I have the main one I use from an RS/6000 and one in my file cabinet to serve as backup should this one ever die. This one was made on April 12, 1988.

    I figure the noise keeps the meek and timid at bay. Bonus!

    1. Ryan 7

      "should this one ever die"

      It won't. When you're dead it will be Still Alive.

      — Typed on my IBM Model M

      1. Gazareth

        Re: "should this one ever die"

        Agreed. My Model M is older than I am!

  31. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    VT100

    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the original DEC VT100 keyboard. Massive key travel, but in case that wasn't enough to let you know when you'd pressed a key, there was audio feedback in the shape of a loud CLACK. The CLACK wasn't mechanical noise, it was artificially generated because it was believed at the time that people couldn't type without audio feedback.

    There was also a row of red lights above the keys that appeared to have no purpose. You could turn them on and off with ANSI-like escape sequences. I only ever saw this feature in use once, by a programmer who flashed them while his program displayed user-antagonistic error messages like "Are you an idiot?" and "You have eyes?".

    1. Pookietoo
      Linux

      Re: VT100

      I remember them (or a slightly later version - VT220?) and they were very nice keyboards. I narrowly avoided fetching some home when a skip full appeared behind the computer centre, but I was strong and managed to resist the temptation.

  32. B-D

    One of the weirdest keyboards I've ever used came with the Sanyo MBC-550, like the IBM of its time it had a solid metal backplate, a distinct amount of travel and a clack that could madden even the most even tempered.

    That was where the similarity ended though, the bloody thing was non standard, so when the cable broke I travelled to my local computer junk shop (remember them?, now the are called WEEE disposal centres) and picked up a replacement DIN cable, hacked the keyboard side connector onto the new cable and it was good to go for many more years.

    That was the only keyboard I've ever used that had a PC reset button on the side.

    Wicked times.

  33. sorry, what?
    Pint

    There are other choices

    http://www.maltron.com/keyboard-info/single-hand-keyboards.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorded_keyboard

    Never tried the single hand keyboards myself, but had some fun with a Chorded one back in the mid 80's.

  34. Pookietoo

    I have one of those IBM clicky clacky keyboards

    Thought I should see why people think they're so great. Not for me. A Microsoft Arc keyboard arrived in the post today, which is weird as anything - so thin and light, nice compact layout. Using it now for the first time, and it's definitely going to take some getting used to, but interesting.

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I have one of those IBM clicky clacky keyboards

      If you have one and don't like it, either gift it to a relative who does, or ebay it for beer money :)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    A Cherry for me

    I've been a computer nut for quite some time now, it started back in the days when I was a kid with a C64 and eventually worked my way up with a 286 which later became a Compaq 486 and eventually I got the PC I have now.

    I've had several, unnamed, keyboards during those days but eventually came across a Cherry 6000M. The funny thing is that I don't know where I got it, but I do know is that this keyboard turned out to be virtual indestructible! You see; during those times (we're talking the 80's here) I smoked. And I also smoked behind the PC; always had an ashtray sitting near my PC because of that. And a lot of that ash (and other junk) ended up in my keyboard. Because you see; I also used to eat breakfast behind the PC or sometimes even lunch.

    This keyboard eventually failed me. Approx. 20 years later, at the time of writing only 2 years ago. I cleaned it up, even found ash in there while I quite smoking approx. 25 years ago, but to no avail. It responded a bit better, but several keys failed more than often, thus making typing extremely annoying.

    SO I started looking for replacements but the problem was that a lot of keyboards are quite bulky. I also liked the click sounds I got while typing (I type blindfold, and decently fast too) and not too many keyboards have that. I tried some of the keyboards still lying around the house but none felt that good as my good ole Cherry :-(

    AND then I discovered the German Cherry website (link to Cherry.de). Imagine my surprise; they don't 'merely' sell keyboards, they sell mice and more advanced keyboards as well (stuff with a cardreader in 'm, as you can sometimes see being used in banks and such).

    Because I didn't see my keyboard there I simply wrote them an e-mail telling them that I was looking for that particular keyboard and if they could advice me which one would best suit my needs. "Oh, but we can make that model for you. It will take time but for E 110,- (approx.) it can be done".

    I paid and I waited, for 1.5 - 2 months or so. I recall writing them an e-mail because the whole thing went a little bit vague and at one time I was worried that I spend a lot of money on nothing. Needless worries as it turned out because eventually my keyboard arrived. Slightly larger than the one I had (this one has a larger edge at the top which now also features the 'Cherry' logo) but the touch and response is exactly what I came to love and respect so much.

    A very expensive keyboard, sure, but if you spend as much time behind the keyboard & screen as I do where a good keyboard has become an essential part then believe me; its money well spent. Especially if this critter manages to last for yet another 25 years :-)

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PS/2 keyboards.

    "PS/2? Why on earth would you want the PS/2 version instead of USB? So you can enjoy the "convenience" of not being able to chain it to a hub or using it on anything other than a desktop pc?."

    You don't play many FPS games where you are supposed to:

    -strafe

    -turn

    -reticle aim

    -fire

    -duck for cover

    -jump

    -reload

    sometimes all at once, do you?

    Of all the actions above, at least 5 of them can and must be done simultaneously and concurrently. Try that on USB and suffer a *BEEP* that comes neither from Windows nor from the game, but from the motherboard speaker, complaining that the motherboard BIOS is having a USB-port induced seizure.

    Plus, if the opponents are in the next room and being a bunch of w*kers, nothing prevents you from removing the keyboard of said PS/2 port, beat the living crap out of them, yell at them to play f*king FAIR, and come back to the game. USB affairs work here too, but PS/2 keybs tend to be old dinossaurs (the M) and be heavier than your average netbook. I dropped one of these on a desk (by accident), it cut a chip of the edge OF THE DESK right off.

    And yes, I use a USB keyboard too, surprinsingly the PS3 is a very comfortable Internet device with a keyboard on the off-hours. I keep one keyboard just for this purpose. Hint: it is also a PS/2 keyboard with an adapter for USB just to throw people off.

    Seriously now, an user managed to botch all of his USB ports, once. Luckily we had PS/2 keyboards in spare. Turns out his machine deserved the scrap heap anyway, but it was a salvageable backup business.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flexowiters and Teletypes

    I started on papertape Flexowriters and Teletypes in the 1960s. The latter were particularly clunky - and the 100bps (75bps?) ones punished any fast typing with a jarring locked key. I probably still hit some keys harder than I should. Does Control-G ring a bell?

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Flexowiters and Teletypes

      Upvote just for the humour in that :-)

      And I'd imagine the locked key could do some SERIOUS damage to a finger, especially back in the days when most people had learned to type on real typewriters

  38. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    ASR 33

    The keyboard on the teletype ASR 33 must rate highly amongst the "Worst keyboards of all time list" . Forget RSI - it was more like torn ligaments from the force needed to operate the keys. It was so bad that I much preferred the membrane keyboard on the ZX-81 or the dead flesh keyboard of the Spectrum.

  39. Homer 1
    Linux

    My first keyboard...

    Was the truly awful membrane thingy on a ZX80. Although the machine itself was a lot of fun. The ZX81 was the same. The Speccy was a marginal improvement (at least the keys has some travel), but sweaty little fingers and rubber keys don't mix. Getting a (comparatively) *real* keyboard, like the one on my first Amiga, was a revelation.

    After that it was all bog-standard PC keyboards, typically of the buckling-spring variety, except the DECStations at uni, which were mechanical switch types, IIRC.

    I'm quite happy with today's keyboards, to be honest, except for the fact that the lettering wears too easily ... and the fact that they all come with at least one redundant key designed for a certain operating system I don't use (but I found the cure for that).

    https://www.thinkpenguin.com/gnu-linux/tux-super-key-keyboard-sticker

  40. Mr Templedene

    Another Model M user here, recovered mine from a skip 14 years ago, originally manufactured in 1992 so not as old as some of you others.

    Lovely keyboard and I do seem to make less typos on it, I guess those early years programming on one hard coded the layout into me.

  41. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Unhappy

    For me

    the memotech mtx keyboard and still is the biz

    Proper keys, mounted on a 1mm steel plate inside an aluminium chassis

    Not only could you beat someone to death with it, but also creat mag 5.5 earthquakes if you dropped the thing on the floor

    Now.. if someone could come up with a way of wiring a PS2 or USB plug on it , I'd be using it now

  42. moiety
    Thumb Up

    "It was more gossipy than the ladies’ loo at the Leeds Warehouse during its 1980s heyday.

    I'm sure you agree that things have changed considerably since then."

    My sarcasm-meter just imploded.

  43. Bad Beaver
    Coffee/keyboard

    Writing this on an Apple Extended II from 1995

    So in my book, the best keyboards are the big heavy ones from long ago that STILL LAST today. I thought about replacing the one in the office with the new quiet Tactile Pro as a nice gesture to my cos – but then again those things are bloody expensive and I am sure they are not as well made as the AEII.

    All the cheap rubber stuff is simply not cutting it and the laptop-like models deserve a special place in hell (even the ones in laptops. My last lappy with a really decent keyboard was the PowerBook G3 Wallstreet) as they let me produce endless errors and feel flat out wrong.

  44. Darryl

    What about the original tiny Macintosh keyboards?

    You know - the ones that didn't have any more keys than a standard typewriter. The springs on those had some interesting harmonics, every key having its own slightly different tone. Sounded like some sort of strange SF opera when a lightning-fast typist got a hold of one.

  45. Seanmon

    Yep.

    The single reason why I'm not a fan of teeny weeny laptops/netbooks/ultrabooks. I want a decent keyboard dammit! Same as the author, I learned to touch type at school, only to find that was a bit useless when you spent most of your time doing <TR><TD>#variable#</TD>... {history.back(-1)} ...etc

  46. Horn

    Keyboard Love

    All hail the Northgate Omnikey Ultra. Firm "clack" with each press, not obtrusive but states its business. Needs a little force, likes it. Still working twenty-two years later (one deep cleaning this year).

  47. Archetypist
    Megaphone

    Modren keyboard

    My recommendation: http://www.typematrix.com/ compact, ergonomic, esp. for large hands, adaptable to different languages and to the Dvorak system (needs far less motion than the QWERTY--like only 23% as much), replaceable skins. light weight, awesome. I'm ordering my 3rd one.

  48. Paul Anderson
    FAIL

    Worst Invention ?

    I have to say I think the keyboard might be the worst invention in history to have gained traction and become ubiquitous. Right from the very start they have been seriously flawed, failing to prevent those typewriter hammers from locking together, having poor layout and causing the left hand to be used more than the right. Fast forward to now and what have you got ? 10 fingers and about 100 keys (hello ?!), terrible layouts, etc. I hate laptop keyboards most of all. Can't manufacturers decide somewhere sensible to put the likes of '\' once and for all. I actually prefer tablet on-screen keyboards - at least you are forced to adapt from the start and aren't caught out by the placement of the odd character.

    If only speech recognition could live up to its promise.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Re: Worst Invention ?

      I agree...I bought an inexpensive Logitech USB keyboard for my company ThinkPad L430...because the control key is in the wrong place. The K360's feet allow it to sit over the laptop keyboard and still let me use the touch pad (if necessary.)

  49. Mike Shepherd

    "I'm sure you agree that things have changed considerably since then"

    No.

  50. channel extended
    Big Brother

    Tiny Keyboards in the air.

    The best keyboard I have ever used is an old AT&T I stole over tweny years ago. The adapter chain does stick out a bit. I type almost 10,000 keystrokes/hour (data entry will NEVER die!).

  51. Not That Andrew

    IMHO the best keyboard for under £30 was the Cherry Cymotion Expert. Similar feel to and almost as durable as professional keyboards costing double the price. A great pity Cherry stopped making them.

  52. welshie

    I have to touch type

    ...because the symbols on this laptop keyboard have worn out through many weeks of use, and the cheap plastic keys are already pitted and gouged. The symbols seem to be as flimsy as transfers in an Airfix kit.

    Can't beat the old buckling spring IBM Model M for sturdy build quality. These days, people are unwilling to spend money on proper build quality, especially when a laptop that the proprietary keyboard design it attaches to becomes obsolete in a few years, yet the old model M goes on, 23 years on. Dell clicky keyboards, circa 1999 were okay.

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