It is impossible to believe, but is in fact true that the concept and design of the modern day keyboard can be traced back to the mechanical typewriter. Over the years the technology used for keyboard has advanced in a great ways. These days you get ergonomic keyboards that are very different from the traditional flat and rectangular keyboards with square keys. Some keyboards today, can be folded, rolled or lighted up. Keyboards now have features, which enable you to program the key’s commands and shortcuts according to your will. However, no matter how advanced a keyboard is the working principle of all them is same; all keyboards use switches and circuits to transform keystrokes into computer understandable signals.

Overview on Keys

Typically keyboard acts as an input device and can be used to write documents, use key-shortcuts, play games and be able to do variety of tasks. Besides the normal keys there are some featured keys designed for specific functions and operating system. The design of a keyboard depends on the manufacturer and the device for which they are made whether desktop or laptop. The shape and size of keys varies from keyboard to keyboard. The number keys on a keyboard may vary from 80 to 110 keys, including typing keys, function keys, numeric keys and control keys. The pattern used for arranging the typing keys followed is the QWERTY. There is another layout that is also widely used -Dvorak layout. According to some people the Dvorak keyboard has reduced their finger fatigue and increased their typing speed. Some of the other keyboard layouts are ABCDE, XPERT, QWERTZ and AZERTY. One of the recent additions to keyboard is the numeric keypad. The numeric keypad has been introduced as a result of increased use of numeric typing and helps in speedy data entry. IBM was the first company to add control keys and function keys to the keyboard. Applications and specific operating functions can be assigned to the function keys and control of cursor and screen can be done by control keys. In recent years, Microsoft has added some Windows OS dedicated functional keys to the keyboard. A special keyboard has been designed for Linux users and features Linux specific hot keys.

Take a Look Inside the Keyboard

A keyboard can be considered as a mini-computer; it has a processor and a circuit that can carry information. A portion of the circuit known as key matrix, remains underneath the keys. The circuit is broken just below the key. When you press a key the corresponding circuit is completed and very little current passes to the receiver through the circuit. When the processor observes that a circuit is closed then it matches the circuit’s location on key matrix with the character map, which is saved in ROM. When you press a key, the mechanical action produces little vibrations called as bounce, which are filtered by the processor. If you press and hold a key for long, then the processor is able to detect it and judge it as repeated pressing of a key.

As more and more advanced keyboards are invented every year, scientists feel that the chances of replacing keyboard with any other new technology are very rare.