There’s a design flaw in Apple’s current lineup of Mac keyboards; easily fixed though. Obviously, someone like me has a long history and an intense relationship with keyboards.

The Flaw · Right now, Apple sells two keyboards: larger/wired and smaller/Bluetooth. The larger one includes the useful cluster with arrow keys, page up/down, home/end, “fn”, and the real “delete” key. The “control” key is large, at the lower left, and by some physical-mechanical equivalent of Fitt’s Law, is real easy to get to.

It also includes the entirely-useless numeric keypad. All this occupies quite a bit of real-estate.

The smaller one (really a lot smaller) squeezes tiny arrow keys into a corner, has an ultra-miniature “control” key, gives “fn” the prized bottom-left-corner position, and entirely omits those other useful keys.

There are several design flaws here. First, people who need an extra numeric keypad really need it, but there’s a huge number of us for whom they’re a waste of precious desktop space. Second, the idea that whether or not you need certain keys is related to whether you want to connect with a wire or not seems spurious. Third, the notion that any outboard keyboard should omit page up/down, home/end, delete, and so on, is just wrong.

So, I want keyboards that can be ordered in either USB and Bluetooth, and either with or without the numeric cluster, but always have the first outboard cluster.

In exchange for this valuable advice to Apple, I’ll expect a nice juicy reward in the mail ASAP. Just like they showered me with gold for detecting and diagnosing the previously-broken list-selection code in; well, I had to split the reward with John Gruber.

Is It a Good Keyboard? · The current line-up of Apple keyboards isn’t good, it is (the sizing flaw aside) great. The feel is both sensitive and rock-solid and I think I’m typing faster than any time in the last twenty years or so.

Which means I get to do an old-fart keyboard digression.

History · Geeks love misty-eyed reminiscing about the great keyboards of yore, with a rough consensus that the original IBM PC’s clackety high-travel product has never since been surpassed. I sure liked that, but if my tactile memory is right, the latest Apples may be better.

But that consensus is wrong anyhow, the IBM PC keyboards might not have been surpassed since, but they never had quite the feel of the old IBM Selectric typewriters.

I remember in particular when I was working on my college newspaper; our single most valuable asset was an IBM “Justifying Selectric”; you’d bang text into it and it’d buffer it up, a line at a time; when you got to the end of a line it would justify it, let you approve it, and typeset it, justified in a proportional font, onto the galleys.

It was fantastically expensive, thousands and thousands of dollars; this in the early Seventies. Of course, as well as all that magic it was a general-purpose ultra-high-end typewriter and when I needed to crank some work out and got into the flow I could make that thing produce a steady dull roar, running north of 110 words per minute. Like high-precision silk under the fingertips.

I remember one time when it broke and the IBM tech came by, I hung around because I wanted to see how it worked. When he took the cover off I was flabbergasted; the complexity inside was just mind-bending. There were hundreds (at least) of moving parts, some the apparent thickness of a human hair. How the thing ever worked, and how on earth he could repair it when broken, escapes me. It remains the most visually-complex artifact I have ever seen.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Nat (Jul 22 2008, at 16:37)

<i>Third, the notion that any outboard keyboard should omit page up/down, home/end, delete, and so on, is just wrong.</i>

"Omitted" is a tad hyperbolic. Just like Apple's laptops going back at least four years, page up/down, home, and end are still present on the wireless keyboard, sharing space with the arrow keys in tandem with the fn key.

I have a wireless Apple keyboard at home and a wired one at work, both current gen, and what bothers me more than the lack of the numeric keypad is that the fn key is in different places on each. Makes it difficult to adjust.


From: Hamranhansenhansen (Jul 22 2008, at 16:38)

I use the wireless Bluetooth keyboard and it is perfect for me. I don't miss the cursor keys being bigger because I have a large graphics tablet. The small, thin keyboard sits on my lap with the tablet on the desk it is very efficient. Touchscreens will make the cursor keys even less important.

The main reason you want to get rid of the numeric keypad is to make room for the mouse for right-handed people. Since the mouse (1984) the keypad is bad ergonomics at best.


From: John (Jul 22 2008, at 16:45)

I love my wireless new Apple keyboard because it's exactly the same typing on it as my Macbook. It makes it feel more natural switching back and forth.

I mostly just write regular old English words on it, though, I imagine it sucks for coders/accountants/gamers.


From: Jon Ellis (Jul 22 2008, at 17:04)

I had a summer jobs during university as a 'tape jockey' for a small IBM mainframe install (at a well known uk turkey slaughterer..).

One of my auxiliary tasks was baby-sitting the payroll application which ran on a System/36 mini... that required frequent visits from IBM techs to keep running.

There were a very special breed, more like craftsmen than any other specialists i've met subsequently in the industry.


From: Fazal Majid (Jul 22 2008, at 17:04)

I have two words for you: Matias TactilePro.


From: hawkman (Jul 22 2008, at 17:05)

I honestly don't know anyone who uses home/end keys! The most valuable thing about the wireless keyboard arrangement is probably that it matches all Apple's laptop keyboards, so anyone who uses an Apple portable will instantly feel at home. Personally, it feels awkward every time I use a full size keyboard now - 5 years of hitting keys in particular positions can really make strong habits. I'm not proud of that... You're totally right about the wired/wireless issue though. (Love, a Daring Fireball reader.)


From: Ian Eure (Jul 22 2008, at 17:05)

While I agree that the Fn key is oddly placed on the wireless keyboard, the tiny Control key isn’t a problem - so long as you remap your Caps Lock key to be Control.

It makes it ridiculously easy to hit; it’s nice and big, and on the leftmost edge of the home row. Fitt’s Law at it’s best.


From: Chris Olson (Jul 22 2008, at 17:15)

Like you, I'm a typing aficionado, and I absolutely love the feel of the current line of Apple keyboards. I own a disgusting amount of keyboards, due to my eccentricities, and I'm still waiting for a wireless version of their full sized keyboard. It kills me having to connect a USB keypad because I can't buy a wireless version of their full size keyboard.


From: Zimmie (Jul 22 2008, at 17:38)

Why on earth would you need separate Home/End keys? As mentioned earlier, Apple does them with key chords. They have for at least a decade. That's like asking for a separate key for jump to previous word boundary (Option-Left). It's just unnecessary. Same for forward delete. Fn-Delete works just fine for me the few times I need that function. Most of the time, I just select whatever I want to delete using the arrow keys and navigation chords then delete it. It's much faster for large amounts of text than either backspacing or forward deleting.

I don't know how to do Insert, but I also don't know when I last used that key intentionally.


From: Alex Satrapa (Jul 22 2008, at 17:47)

I find that the numeric keypad is a waste of space. Having the cursor keys in a compact arrangement works just fine for me - the mouse is there for a reason!

Now if only I could get a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (how many words can you squeeze into the name of a keyboard before it becomes an essay) without the numeric keypad, I'd be much happier.


From: Aaron Priven (Jul 22 2008, at 17:54)

The original IBM PC keyboard, and its successor the superior-in-layout IBM PC-AT keyboard, used the numeric keypad in a separate mode (when "Num Lock" was off) -- 8, 2, 4, and 6 were arrow keys and 9, 3, 7, and 1 were PgUp, PgDn, Home, and End. It worked well and I continued to use an original IBM PC-AT keyboard well into the mid-nineties when I moved to Macs. That worked fine and had the advantage of providing a numeric keypad once in a while when it was helpful.

I learned to type on an IBM Executive and it was sweet. No computer keyboard goes "clunk" like a typebar-style electric typewriter.


From: martin (Jul 22 2008, at 18:40)

The best keyboard I ever used was not on an IBM, but on the Zenith Z-100. Subsequent CP/M and DOS boxen from Zenith had inferior keyboards.

The current Apple Bluetooth keyboard is not for everyone, but design-wise, it's a great fit (literally) for pairing with a large Wacom tablet.


From: Michael (Jul 22 2008, at 18:48)

Regarding gaming, I frequent that scene, and I have to say that the new Apple wireless keyboard is quite capable.


From: David M. Converse (Jul 22 2008, at 18:58)

I like the slightly older white Apple bluetooth keyboard that came with my G5 iMac. Being wireless is great- I use a Wacom tablet in Photoshop a lot so the kb needs to be easily movable. At the same time, my MacBook sits on the desk as my Internet and utility computer. I don't have any problems shifting back and forth from full-sized wireless kb and tablet (and there switching between mouse and pen) and portable with integrated kb and trackpad. :)


From: Rafael (Jul 22 2008, at 18:59)

Although I agree with you, some points:

Most people buying apple bluetooth keyboards are laptop users (heck most people buying macintoshes are buying laptops, by a small margin I think) and it makes sense for the bluetooth keyboard to mimic the laptop keyboard. I carry around a laptop all day (MB Air, it is a godsend) and have been since I have a Mac (5 years) and although I'm not really much fond of bluetooth keyboards (more batteries to replace and they always die on you when you least suspect it) I ended buying a current generation bluetooth keyboard just to have the same layout as the laptop in my home computer. My workstation has a current gen wired keyboard and i constantly make minor mistakes with it.

In fact ALL the people I know who have a current generation apple bluetooth keyboard pair it with a laptop.

I fly on both keyboards and was really surprised by the feeling of the keys, was skeptical when they first came out (skeptical enough to stock up on a couple of last generation keyboards just in case). The best one are the ones on the Macbook Pro though (before I used thinkpads and those keyboards are great too).


From: nnewbold (Jul 22 2008, at 19:48)

Um...the apple bluetooth keyboard DOES have page-up, page-down, home, end and (proper) delete keys. They're just not marked for some reason.

Just hold down the fn key. Up arrow becomes page-up, down arrow becomes page-down, left arrow becomes home, right arrow becomes end, and delete becomes (proper) delete.


From: macwhiz (Jul 22 2008, at 19:52)

I like the feel of the aluminum keyboard too, with one exception. I don't like the absolutely flat key-tops.

Too often, I find myself hitting the wrong key. There's just something about the flat tops that makes it more difficult to stay aligned on the keyboard. If the keys had even a little bit of scuplting, I'd feel much more comfortable with it.

In terms of the feel of striking a key, it's easily the best laptop keyboard I've ever used, and I prefer laptop keyboards. Firm and quiet, short travel, not much effort required to type but just enough so that brushing your hand over the keys doesn't set them off...

Sculpting or not, the aluminum keyboards are light-years beyond the keyboards being offered up as pack-ins by HP and Dell. The Dell keyboard I have at work is the sloppiest thing I've ever used. You can rest your fingers on the keycaps and wiggle them back and forth almost a quarter inch. It chatters like a nest of rattlesnakes on a magic-fingers vibrating bed when you type. There is no aspect of that keyboard that doesn't scream "cheap."

There's one other way in which the aluminum keyboards could stand improvement. Mac OS X is fundamentally a UNIX operating system. For a UNIX system, Mac keyboards have a ridiculously small and hard-to-target ESC key. Whomever designed the aluminum keyboard obviously didn't have much need to use "vi."


From: VidKid (Jul 22 2008, at 20:09)

Finally, someone who remembers what a real keyboard felt like. The IBM Selectric, The IBM 2741 terminal (a Selectric in a stand with a 110 baud interface), the IBM 3278 keyboard. My fingers quiver with the memory!

Contrary to other comments, there is *no* replacement for these things. The IBM Model M keyboard was the next best, but nothing else comes close.

The Matais Tactile Pro is a poor third place attempt. It's only redeeming feature is that you can put in the dishwasher after spilling a can of soda into it, and it will come out like new (several days (weeks?)) of drying recommended.

I now use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard, and I too wish for a compromise. I don't need the keypad, but I do want those other keys.



From: simon letarte (Jul 22 2008, at 20:14)

The reason I would use a bluetooth keyboard is to compensate for the lack of numeric keypad on my laptop. I work in science so I work with numbers a lot. The keypad allows me to type numbers much faster. I found the new small bluetooth keyboard extremely moronic.


From: matt (Jul 22 2008, at 20:44)

I loved my small apple wireless keyboard until I spilled soda in it. Then it was an $80 paperweight. It was the best keyboard I've ever had: the right size, and the keys did feel great to type on. I use a laptop for work, so the fact that it's similar to the macbook keyboard made it pretty natural to use.


From: Ryan B (Jul 22 2008, at 21:04)

In my opinion, the hierarchy of keyboards is as follows:

1) Macally Icekey

2) Powerbook G4

3) MacBook Pro

4) New Apple Keyboards


∞) Anything that uses rubber domes

Maybe it's my acclimation to the Icekey (which I use at home), but I find that the new Apple keyboards (which I use at work) often fail to register my keypresses. As a result, I tend to overcorrect and use too much force, which is not only bad ergonomics but kills the feel of the keyboard.

As for the numeric keypad, I think I use it enough to justify its existence on my keyboard. I would be sad if its absence were to become the norm.


From: Justin Watt (Jul 22 2008, at 21:27)

Ack! A lot of comments. Computer folks are passionate about keyboards.

I developed an early love affair with the size and tactile response of ThinkPads, so my keyboard of choice is the ThinkPad Travel UltraNav USB Keyboard:


From: John Harrison (Jul 22 2008, at 21:28)

I've searched high and low for the perfect keyboard. As of right now it does not exist. The <i>perfect</i> keyboard would have IBM Model M buckling spring keys, have everything but the numeric keypad, have Apple keycaps, and be bluetooth. Such a beast does not exist. You can get an old Model M without the keypad but it won't have the Command key and it requires an adapter just to be USB.

The Apple bluetooth keyboard is OK. I've been using one for about six months now. I love how small it is and the key action isn't bad. Bluetooth means that there is one less thing to unplug when I run off with the laptop. I have \ mapped to forward delete and I use it ALL THE TIME. I find myself missing Home, PgUp, PgDwn, and End less frequently that I used to, but I would pay big bucks for a keyboard that meets my needs.

There is also no perfect bluetooth mouse. The Mighty Mouse is crap. Why are all the good mice cursed with dongles?


From: Ward (Jul 22 2008, at 21:44)

I first started typing with a Selectric and IBM 3270 keyboards, and agree that the latest generation Apple keyboards are the best in years. I have a MacBook at home and a wired keyboard at the office, and they both "feel" much faster. Even though I no longer do much number crunching, not having the numeric keypad was a deal killer for the office keyboard. I'm whiz with home/end, fn-delete and all the other small keyboard chords, but having to type numbers on the top row (or, god forbid, using the calculator) kills me. Force of habit? Definitely. Its the same reason I put the phone on the left - my left hand "knows" that the numbers go top down, while my right hand "knows" that keypad (and calculator) numbers go bottom up. When I put the phone on the right, I always misdial, and when I don't have a numeric keypad, it slows me down immensely.


From: Paul Ferguson (Jul 22 2008, at 23:15)

You're right on the mark about the Apple keyboards. The key action and low profile are superb, and I also believe I'm typing faster than I ever have. I really love this keyboard. Its only flaw is that it's just like almost every other keyboard out there.

It is very frustrating that Apple has shown no serious innovation in the overall design of their keyboards. Pretty much every piece of hardware or software from Apple blazes new grounds in terms of innovation and usability, and with few exceptions (round mouse, anyone?), they exceed their goals.

I am frankly puzzled by the dogged adherence to bad keyboard layout, ignoring the ever expanding body of ergonomics knowledge. Hell, even Microsoft has shown more innovation in keyboard design than Apple. If I could get the Microsoft Natural keyboard with the Apple key actions, I'd be so happy I might finally pick up the phone during NPR pledge breaks...


From: Jones (Jul 23 2008, at 00:43)

I would rather prefer a bluetooth keyboard with numeric keypad but without the big arrow keys. Just like in the days of the Powermac G3 and Bondi blue iMacs.


From: David S. (Jul 23 2008, at 01:59)

I don't think Apple were really thinking of the BT keyboard for desktop/laptop use. It seems to have been designed for use on the lap in a living room, controlling a multimedia setup via a Mac Mini, Apple TV or somesuch with a big 'ol widescreen TV for a display. The keys they've shrunk or gotten rid of are the ones you wouldn't need much if at all in that setup.

As to those silly old fashioned pg up/down/home/end keys, in 20+ years of using Macs I've never used them let alone needed them (oh for my old Mac Plus keyboard that didn't bother with them at all). Total waste of space that only demented PC users could ever love.

Every Apple laptop user knows (or soon learns) that fn-delete gives you forward delete, why do you need a special key for it? I use the numeric keypad on my USB aluminium keyboard quite a bit and I really hate that on the latest MacBooks they've removed the embedded one they used to have on the laptop keyboards that operated in conjunction with fn/numlock key. It took a bit of getting used to but now I would hate to not have it available.


From: Marten Veldthuis (Jul 23 2008, at 03:49)

With regard to the new Apple keyboards versus an old IBM one. I'm currently trying out the aluminum keyboard, coming from an old IBM Model M (set capslock to Command), and while it does feel nice, it's a hell of a difference, and it takes some getting used. I'm still trying it out, but I keep missing keys (the c in .com being a frequent one) and if that doesn't stop soon, I recon I'll be switching back.


From: Ian Page-Echols (Jul 23 2008, at 04:15)

My current favorite keyboard is the keyboard built in to the Radio Shack TRS-80.

I still haven't tried out the new Apple Bluetooth keyboards, but it sounds like I have to give one a try. Anyone have the Macally Icekey and the Apple Bluetooth keyboard and have a comparison? I didn't think I would like the Icekey either, but here I am still using it.


From: MikeP (Jul 23 2008, at 04:28)

If you like the Model Ms, you might like the Unicomp, you can get them from <a href=">here</a>, which will redirect to a Yahoo store. I have one at work, and while it's not *quite* an M, it's pretty close. I got a Customizer 104. And yes, they come in USB.

Unfortunately, I don't think they make a model Just Like That except without the numeric keypad. Too bad, I'm with Tim: if I could chop off my home iMac's Al keyboard just past the arrow keys, I'd be happy. I'd buy a Unicomp for home, but my desk is too small to really accommodate one very well, especially since my cat likes jumping up on my desk.


From: Richard Emerson (Jul 23 2008, at 06:40)

Keyboard nerds (of which I'm one) generally agree that the best keyboard ever made was the IBM Model M Mini "Spacesaver" design, which was a Model M (buckling-spring) but without the numeric keypad. These are no longer made and are coveted jealously by those fortunate enough to own one. They almost never appear on eBay, and when they do they fetch ridiculous prices regardless of age or condition.

A company called Unicomp took over the last true buckling-spring factory from IBM. For some bizarre reason they don't make a "Spacesaver" layout, but they do make brand-new full size Model M equivalent keyboards.

A Japanese company called Diatec makes a "Tenkeyless" keyboard in their "Majestouch" range, but they were swamped by the demand and it is currently out of stock everywhere. It's not buckling-spring but uses decent keyswitches from Cherry.

Anyway none of these are Mac keyboards but it just goes to show that a suprising number of people want to lose the numeric keypad without changing the rest of the layout -- but almost no manufacturers are producing keyboards for this requirement. I wonder why not? They could charge through the nose for them...

By the way, for full-on keyboard nerdery (including Mac stuff) you might like to visit this forum:


From: William Jackson (Jul 23 2008, at 06:44)

Your college newspaper's web site appears to be having problems. At this writing, suffering from a PHP parse error.


From: Tom Karlo (Jul 23 2008, at 07:17)

I think you're making the mistake of "designing for yourself" on the issue regarding the home/end, delete/insert keys. I'm certainly sympathetic to the thought myself, but I don't think I've ever seen a "typical" user employ those keys much. Net-net they probably cause more confusion than utility for anyone below about the 75th percentile of user skill, and most folks above that are either going to buy the full size keyboard or use the fn chords to get the same effect.

That said, I use the Apple wireless keyboard and I love it (even relative to the keyboard built into my Macbook.) I think the shorter stroke depth is a huge improvement over the old style IBM keyboards nerds tend to be so excited about. I remember the old "clicky" keyboards quite well. The new Apple designs feel more solid, type faster and are significantly quieter as well -- that last point should not be undervalued.


From: Tinker (Jul 23 2008, at 07:22)

Nobody likes the old Apple ADB keyboard? I still think it was great, but don't miss it as such...

The current wired Apple kb is by far the best keyboard I've had the pleasure of using. Being left-handed, I kind of feel that (for once) I'm at an advantage, being able to have one hand on a nice symmetrical mouse while having access to the numeric keys and most other short-cuts, with my right hand. Great for doing video editing and general pixelpushing.

"Just hold down the fn key. Up arrow becomes page-up, down arrow becomes page-down, left arrow becomes home, right arrow becomes end, and delete becomes (proper) delete."

Great tip, thanks...


From: Richard Emerson (Jul 23 2008, at 07:52)

Just to add a point about using 'Fn' to get PgUp, PgDn etc out of the arrow keys: I don't think any developer who writes significant amounts of code would accept that. For developer use, the separate PgUp, PgDn etc cluster makes a *huge* difference -- in much the same way that the numeric keypad makes a difference for people who type in numbers all day.


From: Elaine (Jul 23 2008, at 08:30)

"First, people who need an extra numeric keypad really need it, but there’s a huge number of us for whom they’re a waste of precious desktop space."

Exactly! I figured out at some point years ago that the numpad was contributing to my RSI issues, since it puts the mouse way the hell out there on the right. I end up twisting my wrist fairly drastically.

For a while at my last job, I had a tiny keyboard with no numpad, which was the mockery of all our IT staff, but I loved it.

Like an earlier commenter, I just wish that the Microsoft "Natural" keyboards came sans numpad. I really like those keyboards; the natural style layout really works with my typing style. I mostly cram out text, markup & the occasional PHP code.

I'm also a huge user of Home/End/Page Up+Down/Delete keys, the first 4 mostly for web surfing, oddly enough. I'd figured out the trick for Home, but the rest are new to me. Will have to put them on a Post-It next to my Macbook at home.

As for ye olde first typewriter, in high school (1988-1992), was my grandfather's old typewriter. Probably circa 1930, so old that IIRC I had to re-ink the ribbon by hand or something. I must've ended up with quite powerful arms: "wham!" and "crunch!" to get the keys all the way down. It was always very exciting for really important papers...and my college be able to use Mom's typewriter, which was a late 70s model IIRC. You could type on it without it being a physical struggle. :)

My other grandfather, when I went to visit him, had a "word processor" style typewriter, where you could type a few lines, see them on a tiny screen, and then have them type out on paper. I loved using that thing.


From: Matt (Jul 23 2008, at 08:43)

I use the numeric keypad all the time, and wish the 17" MacBook Pro's extra size was taken advantage of and included one (with the main keyboard still centered, of course).


From: John_B (Jul 23 2008, at 09:44)

I have a blackbook (Nov. 2007 rev.) that I use in clamshell mode at home, in addition to using as a laptop. The one thing I realized *after* buying the full-sized Apple aluminum USB keyboard was that the smaller Bluetooth keyboard is identical to the keyboard on my Macbook, down to the shortcut/function keys for Expose, volume up/down, etc.

I agree with nnewbold, the adjustment for Home/End/PgUp/PgDown and forward delete were pretty easy to make, except that having access to the keys on the full sized keyboard with the fn key located on almost the complete opposite side of the keyboard means I have to think about those keys, which tends to slow down my typing.

I "solved" the problem by buying the Bluetooth keyboard for home use and repurposing the full sized USB keyboard to my Windows :( box at work.


From: DS Morse (Jul 23 2008, at 10:08)

I agree with most of what your saying. however I'd rather remove the number keys along the top of the board then live without my 10 key pad. Its the only way I can type numbers without looking at the keyboard.

Also really annoying about the keyboard, function keys should default to their fvalue. If you want to use the other printed icons you should have to turn on/off fn lock. With the mac this isn't so bad, because you can set it in OS-X, but when in bootcamp its VERY VERY annoying to step through code.


From: Dan Knight (Jul 23 2008, at 10:46)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Apple's current keyboards. It inspired me to do some research, make some suggestions, and post an article pointing to keys we no longer need, keys that are dangerously placed, and keys that could be added to make keyboards more useful for today's computer user.



From: Arnaud (Jul 23 2008, at 13:12)

One thing that seems to have been missed it the usefulness of the numeric keypad for non-qwerty (or non north-american) keyboard.

On a french azerty keyboard it is a pain to have to hit shift+number to get the number and the numeric keypad can be quite useful.


From: Jerome (Jul 23 2008, at 14:06)

A Bluetooth numeric keypad would be a great for coders/accountants/gamers. Give laptop users the option to get back the missing part of their keyboard.


From: Robert Loomans (Jul 23 2008, at 19:00)

I like the wireless keyboard *as*is*.

The reason being that it is identical in layout to the keyboard on my MacBook Pro. So at home I use the laptop keyboard, at work the wireless keyboard and everything is in the same place.



From: David (Jul 24 2008, at 04:57)

I agree with a couple of earlier commenters about the Microsoft Natural Keyboard. I have been tempted to try this mod to remove the numeric keys:


From: Gene T (Jul 24 2008, at 05:48)

I think many users, even longtime developers, don't realize there are so many options/keyboard mfr's besides Apple, logitech, microsoft, Kensington. See here also

The worst keyboard ever, the Apple iMac KB that preceded the current generation (white keys in clear plastic tray). Guaranteed RSI. As bad a product realization as, say, Vista and IE 6!


From: Steve L (Jul 24 2008, at 07:58)

I guess few things inspire programmers to comment more than (i) editor wars; and (ii) keyboards.

I feel like I wouldn't be fulfilling some part of my moral obligations if I fail to suggest people to at least try the Kinesis Advantage line of keyboards:

Since I've been using them, the pain I've had in my left wrist after long jamming sessions is no longer there ... and they key action is great, too.

Expensive? Yeah! But definitely worth it.



From: rektide (Jul 24 2008, at 14:51)

You used to be able to buy an IBM USB numeric keypad for $11. It also had two usb ports built in. I bought 5 a while back and use them as remote interfaces for my music player, but they're also vindication for riping the numeric keypads off every keyboard made henceforth.


From: Chris Ryland (Jul 24 2008, at 20:43)

Bah, all you young'uns talking about Selectrics being the ultimate keyboards!

The ultimate keyboard is still the old MIT AI Lab "Tom Knight" Microswitch keyboard: .

I loved those things with a passion, and they've never been surpassed. Even the Symbolics Lisp Machine keyboards (still made by Microswitch) were never as good as the old TK boards.


From: Steve (Jul 25 2008, at 12:42)

Apple Extended Keyboard I (+ Griffin iMate) FTW! That is the cheapest and easiest Mac solution for me, great tactile keyboard with Mac layout.

Besides that, I also really like the new Apple Aluminum keyboard. I also loved the G4 PowerBook keyboards, too bad my MBP keyboard is not quite the same- why did they make it mushier?


From: Martin (Jul 26 2008, at 12:29)

I really liked the old Sun keyboard (e.g the one that came with the Ultra-1). It was a beautiful thing, perfect response, silent. Simply good engineering.

Compare that to the worthless piece of ... plastic that ship with Sun workstations today. "Someone" needs to tell someone at Sun that keyboards are important to geeks.

However, the new Apple keyboard is IMHO on par with the old Sun one.


From: Thijs (Jul 27 2008, at 01:53)

The numpad isn't entirely useless. The "/" and "*" are placed next to each other, so you can easily place multiline-comments in your code with this key combination


From: John H (Jul 27 2008, at 11:05)

I too am surprised Apple hasn't tried to do more with keyboard ergonomics. I use a pair of Cherry Ergo Pro keyboards that are now over 15 years old (the Kinesis Maxim is a very similar design). The key action isn't much to write home about, but the split and tilted layout is unbeatable for me. And I regularly use the PgUp, PgDn, Home, End, Insert and Delete keys too.


From: w (Aug 03 2008, at 17:43)

I realize this is a Mac and IBM love in, but I've a vote for the best keyboard I've every used which isn't from either camp.

It was the LK201 keyboard originally for the DEC VT-220 terminal. It was small enough to fit on the edge of a desk filled with manuals and papers, or even in a lap (though a bit long for that), and had more than sufficient keys so that key chording wasn't really required. Key travel was just about right key size and key cap shape were too. Nice keyboard...



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