PDA

View Full Version : IBM PC's 83-Key Keyboard : Why so European



Great Hierophant
April 29th, 2012, 01:12 PM
I have wondered why the IBM PC and XT 83-keyboard is so "European" influenced when it comes to key sizes and placements. I know that the keyboard layout was taken directly from the IBM 5322 System/32 Datamaster. But did the "european layout" originate with IBM or did IBM follow a pre-existing design?

Some of the answer is here : http://www.krsaborio.net/ibm/research/1990/09.htm


There were two other concerns with the original keyboard: the placement of the Left Shift and Enter keys, and the lack of indicators for Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Scroll Lock. The keys ended up as they did because we wanted to support the international keyboard, which has several additional keys. We improved the layout with the IBM AT keyboard. That keyboard also had the indicator lights for the shift states.

That quotation suggests that IBM tried to set a universal standard in the beginning. The 83-key French, German, Italian, Spanish and U.K. keyboards are identical to the U.S. keyboard in terms of # of keys and their physical sizes and placement, and when US users complained, IBM switched to a more shift & enter key friendly layout with the original AT keyboard. But the international layout for the AT keyboards are also identical, in terms of # of keys and physical size and placement, to the US keyboard. Only on the 101/102 keyboards do the designs physically diverge. Presumably European users weren't comfortable with the AT design, so they got a vertical enter key and an extra key next to the left shift key. And so the design split continues to the present day.

My suggestion is that IBM came up with this design, which may have influenced later keyboard's such as the Apple IIe's/Macintosh, the Amigas and ST, the first of which in turn could have influenced the Model M.

JohnElliott
April 30th, 2012, 11:02 AM
The 83-key French, German, Italian, Spanish and U.K. keyboards are identical to the U.S. keyboard in terms of # of keys and their physical sizes and placement, and when US users complained, IBM switched to a more shift & enter key friendly layout with the original AT keyboard. But the international layout for the AT keyboards are also identical, in terms of # of keys and physical size and placement, to the US keyboard. Only on the 101/102 keyboards do the designs physically diverge.

The 3270PC keyboard (http://www.seasip.info/VintagePC/ibm_6110344.html) comes between the XT and AT keyboards -- that has a layout that's pretty much the same as the European Model M. But both it and the 84-key AT keyboard look as if they've been designed with multiple layouts in mind; they've both got mounting points and stabiliser clips for all three shapes of Enter key, for example.

(In fact, the AT keyboard is just a cut-down 3270PC keyboard with different firmware; not only are the keys interchangeable between the two, so are the microcontrollers).