Chord keyboard

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A microwriter from 1980

A chord keyboard is a keyboard that can be operated simply by moving the fingers and without hand movements and often with just one hand. To achieve full keyboard functionality, you may have to press several - up to five - keys at the same time, so that the characters are represented as chords, as it were on a piano. The keyboard has a particularly large number of modifier keys for this purpose.

These keyboards are used when normal keyboards would be impractical (for example, if the inputs have to be made while standing, walking or lying down ( bed restraint )). For ease of use, the chords are set according to knowledge from coding theory and psychology , so that simple chords can be used for common characters.

The disadvantage is the comparatively higher training effort, whereby normal character rates can be achieved after the learning phase has been completed. Chord keyboards for stenographers are among the fastest and most precise input devices for texts, but this typically requires three years of intensive training for the user.

One-hand keyboard by Douglas Engelbart (approx. 1960–1970)


The inventor of the computer mouse , Douglas C. Engelbart , designed a chord keyboard in the 1960s as a new keyboard concept at the time. Its keyboard consists of only five unlabeled keys and can be operated with one hand, whereby several keys have to be pressed at the same time for most characters. Their advantage is that the fingers rest on the keys. His investigations showed that the operation of such a keyboard can be learned faster than that of a conventional keyboard. In combination with the mouse, the user would have an input device for each hand.

See also


  1. Sabra Chartrand: Patents; A keyboard fits in the palm of the hand to make computing mobile, but it doesn't speak Qwerty ( English ) New York Times . August 12, 2002. Retrieved September 19, 2009.
  2. Keyset. Doug Engelbart Institute, accessed January 23, 2015 .

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