Questions tagged [keyboards]

For questions about the maintenance, usage, or history of retro keyboards.

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26 votes
3 answers
4k views

What did Ctrl+NumLock do?

In my answer here I infer that the unusual scancode for the Pause/Break key emulates the user pressing and then releasing CtrlNumLock. Obviously that key combination did something specific, back when ...
3 votes
1 answer
161 views

Were there clones and/or national variants of IBM's 84-key AT keyboard?

The 84-Key IBM AT keyboard (the one with a visibly separated numbers block but without dedicated cursor keys, with ESC and a dedicated SysRq key in the numbers block) seems to be the rarest of the old ...
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4 votes
0 answers
185 views

How can I prevent unwanted key repeat when using PS/2 keyboard with USB adapter?

I'm currently using an IBM Model M keyboard with a PS/2-to-USB active adapter. When I type fast on my main PC, almost any key will get "stuck" and keeps repeating until I press another key. ...
30 votes
3 answers
5k views

Was there a keyboard layout starting with "TBSY"?

Watching an episode of Murder, She Wrote (7x12 "Suspicion of Murder") and, at one point, a character picks up a typewriter and throws it through a window. However, said keyboard has the ...
4 votes
1 answer
355 views

What was the first backlit keyboard and were the shift characters illuminated?

I recently bought a Logitech G915 TKL Keyboard. https://www.logitech.com/assets/65840/g915-lightspeed-wireless-rgb-mechanical-gaming-keyboard-qsg.pdf It's great but a massive disadvantage is that ...
6 votes
2 answers
517 views

CONIN (Console In) in CP/M and "old characters" in character latch

CP/M uses CONIN to read a single character from the keyboard, and it will assert CONST to poll the status register for incoming characters. Let's assume the keyboard controller can buffer one ...
56 votes
4 answers
8k views

Why is Ctrl-V the Paste shortcut?

We now casually use the Ctrl-C to Copy. We also use Ctrl-X to Cut. I understand this choice. We cannot reuse Ctrl-C and the 'X' represents a cross. Crossing something out on a sheet of paper was ...
29 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why was the "Space-cadet keyboard" called that?

Many of us have heard of the so-called "Space-cadet keyboard" from 1978 (famous for including a mind-boggling number of modifier keys including control, meta, hyper, super, shift, top, front,...
36 votes
8 answers
7k views

Did they forget to add the physical layout to the USB keyboard standard?

USB keyboards must have been one of the first devices that could be connected to a USB port. When you are from the US it's possible that you have never faced this problem. But in all other parts of ...
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13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Using a Minitel keyboard with a modern PC

I have a problem for my next project. I want to buy a Minitel (a French terminal, ancestor of PC and Internet). Once I have it, I want to remove the old screen and everything that is inside then put a ...
18 votes
3 answers
2k views

IBM PC Alt + numpad for entering character codes: firmware, BIOS or OS?

Back in the days of MS-DOS, when I needed to type a special character that wasn't part of the keyboard layout, I would press down the left Alt key and type out the character code on the numeric keypad ...
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4 votes
1 answer
227 views

IBM Model M is typing random characters / what cable is this?

I have actually two of these ModelM keyboards, they are a pleasure to use and make a fantastic sound. The other one is from the 90s, takes a small PS2 adapter and works without a problem. This one ...
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39 votes
4 answers
7k views

Why does NumLock exist?

My keyboard has over a hundred keys on it. But there's one labelled NumLock. Pressing it turns the numeric keypad into a duplicate of the dedicated arrow keys just left of it. This doesn't seem useful ...
5 votes
2 answers
433 views

Which keyboard replaced the IBM Model M?

Setting aside the fact that the Model M keyboard is still made by Unicomp, which keyboard did IBM market as the successor to their Model M (aka "Enhanced") keyboard? My understanding is that ...
0 votes
0 answers
100 views

Micro-Term ERGO 301 (C134) Terminal Keyboard compatibility

I dug up my old ERGO 301-C134 Terminal, but in the various house-moves, the keyboard has gone missing. I searched and searched the roof-cavity, but it has probably been lost. Click to embiggen ...
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28 votes
3 answers
4k views

The two types of Return keys on keyboard layouts

Why have these two types of Return keys persisted to this day? A quick look at different keyboards from different keyboard manufacturers from today shows the Shift-style Return seems to have more ...
  • 383
6 votes
3 answers
289 views

WY85 terminal with WY60/ASCII keyboard

Some time ago I've found a working Wyse WY85 terminal, and a keyboard that can (physically) connect to it, marked WY60/ASCII. I was now trying to make the terminal work, but noticed that none of the ...
  • 163
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

Was there ever a microcomputer with a full-size keyboard and a hex numpad?

I'm aware of some early/super hobbyist microcomputers that came with ONLY a hex numpad (that is, no letters beyond F/no punctuation). I'm also aware of home microcomputers that had the usual decimal ...
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8 votes
1 answer
517 views

Meaning of KP_Begin and VK_CLEAR names of numpad 5

The key "5" at the standard keyboard numpad ("keypad" in XFree86) is named KP_Begin in XFree86 and VK_CLEAR in Windows virtual key space. What are these names originated in? Are ...
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2 votes
0 answers
194 views

Did other Acorn keyboards use two-shot molding?

The BBC Micro hardware specification includes the clause: The legend on the keys will be achieved by two-shot moulding This is a process by which the glyphs are made to run all the way through the ...
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9 votes
2 answers
600 views

Cleaning buckling spring keyboards

How do you clean keyboards with buckling springs? I have mentioned in an earlier question that I've recently bought an IBM keyboard but how do you clean a keyboard with buckling springs? I only know ...
4 votes
1 answer
315 views

Unicomp's IBM model keyboards

I've recently purchased the Spacesaver M Black Buckling Spring USB keyboard (still didn't get it due to shipping delays) and was wondering whether anyone has a real original IBM keyboard. What is so ...
4 votes
1 answer
399 views

Why did the Speak & Spell have an alphabetic keyboard?

Many of us remember the original Speak & Spell from 1978: Image source: Wikipedia One of the interesting things about this early handheld educational game console is the keyboard. It's not normal!...
3 votes
1 answer
737 views

Is this keyboard a clone of IBM Model M?

I have this old Quest keyboard: And I was wondering whether IBM did allow rebranding of their keyboard technology. Physically it seems similar-looking to IBM Model M. Is that a typical el-cheapo ...
3 votes
2 answers
600 views

PS/2 Keyboard not working on Windows 95 and MS-DOS

I received a Packard Bell Multimedia 550 and it came with Windows 95. The problem is that keyboard input was not coming through. Before it attempts to boot into Windows 95, it shows the safemode ...
2 votes
1 answer
751 views

8 pin Mini-DIN to USB converter; where can I buy one?

I have a vintage Sun Microsystems Type 6 keyboard that uses an 8 pin Mini-DIN and I want to use it on a modern computer with at least a USB 2.0 port. I've searched online e-commerce websites but most ...
19 votes
1 answer
2k views

What's the deal with Commodore's RESTORE key?

Most early microcomputers provided either a dedicated key (e.g. Apple ][), keyboard combination (e.g. PC clones), or dedicated hardware button (countless examples) to "Reset" the computer. ...
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5 votes
1 answer
260 views

What is the general term for keyboard overlays that show special commands or hotkeys?

I was reminded of the plastic keyboard overlays that I remember from the 1990s. They showed key combinations, hotkeys, and command keys for certain applications. The most common one was just an ...
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8 votes
1 answer
229 views

Did the keyboard "scancodes" available to Commodore PET software differ between models?

As mentioned on my Were there any standard tricks to fix PET upper/lower case differences? question, I'm trying to figure out what to expect when running software generically labelled as "PET&...
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4 votes
0 answers
243 views

What keyboard protocol do IBM 3151 Terminals speak over RJ45

I've recently acquired an IBM 3151 Terminal without keyboard and I'm not willing to spend any money on an original keyboard. This is why I've tried searching Google for any datasheets of the IBM RJ45 ...
11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why do Sun keyboards use diamond for meta?

The Sun Type 3 keyboard labelled its meta keys "Left" and "Right". The Type 4 changed this to a hollow diamond, or lozenge: ◇. The Type 5 and on uses a solid diamond: ◆. My ...
10 votes
2 answers
860 views

When does an IBM-compatible PC keyboard controller dequeue scancodes?

There is a not-unheard-of technique in DOS software to detect certain keypresses (like Ctrl+Break) by intercepting the keyboard interrupt (IRQ 1) and reading the scancode directly from the keyboard ...
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10 votes
2 answers
700 views

Extending C128D Keyboard cable

I need to make a 25 pin Sub-D extension cable for my C128D keyboard. I think it may be as easy as connecting male pins from one side to corresponding female pins on the other side, but need ...
9 votes
2 answers
679 views

Origin of Ctrl-Alt-Delete key combination to reset

The Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination to reset is known to me to work on older PC/MS-DOS PCs, some versions of Atari TOS, on runlevel 3 / multiuser.tager Linuxes (it can be disabled). The older of ...
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1 vote
1 answer
184 views

Amstrad CPC 6128 - Key cap spring missing

Of course the unthinkable happened and I lost one cap key spring while cleaning the keyboard. I am still searching but assuming all things went south, what would be the best solution to replace them? ...
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are older Shift keys shaped the way they are?

On today's keyboards, the two Shift keys are somewhat elongated horizontally, but otherwise look much the same as any other key on the keyboard. However, in times past it was not altogether unusual ...
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4 votes
1 answer
289 views

What is the easieset way to replace some missing key-caps for the AT&T 6300 keyboard?

I have an what appears to be an AT&T 6300 Computer. It seems to work fine, but I am missing the F5, #7 and numpad + key caps on the keyboard. What is the easiest way to find a replacement for ...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k views

How ZX Spectrum avoided key ghosting

Was ZX spectrum better at handling than later PCs-keyboards without having diodes in its key matrix? I encountered this comment on ycombinator but I fail to understand it. Couldn't be Speccy method ...
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Was there an input device capable of entering all Algol 60 symbols with correct appearance?

This question was inspired by recent discussion on early keyboards and character sets, and mention in passing about how the COBOL designers were concerned about not using "non-existent" ...
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42 votes
5 answers
10k views

Why do keyboards have an asterisk key?

While we're all accustomed to using * as the multiplication symbol (not to mention other esoteric meanings in programming, command-lines, etc.) it is of course not actually the everyday standard ...
  • 3,806
24 votes
5 answers
6k views

Why is there only one PS/2 port on my computer?

I have an old computer from around 1995. It's from a computer brand that I've never heard of called Samanna Compu-Solutions. I am unsure of the model. The problem is, I only have one PS/2 port to work ...
7 votes
3 answers
519 views

When and Which (PC) Keyboards Introduced Browser and/or Multimedia Keys to Windows

Background: Multimedia/Internet keys are additional function keys on PC keyboards that either invoke specific applications like browser, e-mail, media player, etc. or invoked certain function for ...
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8 votes
6 answers
9k views

Why do keyboards with a NumPad repeat the numbers?

This question is related to this one. I realise not all keyboards have the NumPad, but why do those who do have a NumPad have two sets of keys for numbers ( the numbers above the letters and below the ...
  • 5,385
18 votes
8 answers
5k views

Were there any parallel port keyboards?

I was reading this QA ( Why is the clock frequency of the PS/2 keyboard protocol so high? ) and read in the replies that a high frequency was chosen (at least in-part) to reduce the latency between a ...
  • 623
144 votes
6 answers
20k views

Why is the keyboard and cellphone / telephone numbers in a different order?

Cellphone / Telephone have the seven bottom-left and the one top-left. While the keyboard has the seven top-left and the one bottom-left How did this come to be? Is there an interesting computing ...
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36 votes
5 answers
11k views

Why is the clock frequency of the PS/2 keyboard protocol so high?

The PS/2 keyboard protocol allows the keyboard to generate a clock rate between 10 kHz and 16.7 kHz. At 11 bits per scancode, 10 kHz is a massive 909 scancodes per second. World-record holder Barbara ...
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4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Z80 PIO Keyboard [closed]

I am working on designing a Z80 computer and I would like to use a PS/2 Keyboard for input. I would like to use a PIO to communicate with it, but I am having trouble finding any documentation online ...
1 vote
1 answer
115 views

Part number / model for IBM PC 350 keyboard

what was the part number or model of the original keyboard shipped with IBM PC 350? Trying to restore the full set.
3 votes
1 answer
103 views

What is _KBSE (Keyboard Sense) signal in CDTV and what is it used for

I just managed to unmod CDTV keyboard (swapped wires for CD32) with community's help, but the original wire was gone, so I'm left without _KBSE signal connected. It seems the system doesn't mind. What ...
3 votes
1 answer
362 views

How to unmod CDTV keyboard

I have a CDTV keyboard that someone modded to work with CD32. There are no bridges or extra components on the board, however pinout was changed at the board - wire connector and I'm not sure how to ...