2010-09-09

old terminals and keyboards

On 9/8/2010 7:30 AM, Elena wrote:
«All keyboard layouts I've seen, except Arensito, fail to relocate often used control keys.  Moreover, it seems to me that many users do switch layout, but fail to switch keyboard and keep typing on a cheap one, with lesser gain.  Typist on typewriters did type a lot, yet it seems they weren't catching any RSI.»

On Sep 8, 4:51 pm, Thad Floryan wrote:
> Bingo!
>
> I've been typing since I was 6 years old using an IBM electric
> typewriter; I'm now retired (and drawing SS) so that's over 60
> years of typing.
>
> The key (no pun) is a proper ergonomic sitting position at the
> keyboard: upright in a comfortable chair with arms horizontal and
> at the level of the keyboard.  Over the decades since the early
> 1960s I've typed millions of lines of code and never even had so
> much as a hint of RSI, and I'd often be at the keyboard 14+ hours
> a day.  Though "retired", I still am at the keyboard for long hours
> because I still develop and program.
>
> Most of the keyboards I've used had an explicit CONTROL key to the
> left of the "A" using terminals such as TTY ASR 33, Datapoint 3300
> (a CRT clone of the ASR 33), Dec VT100, Datamedia DT80 (a clone of
> the VT100), etc.
>
> You can see the TTY ASR33 keyboard here:
>
>
>
> which is identical to the one I had at Tymshare and at home in the
> 1960s and early 1970s.
>
> You can see the VT100 keyboard layout here:
>
>
>
> The Datamedia DT80 can be seen here (scroll down):
>
>
>
> What I use now (attached to a multi-gang IOGEAR GCS138 Miniview
> Ultra KVM switch) is a Unicomp SpaceSaver which can be seen here:
>
>
>
> with the [Caps Lock] mapped to be a Control key on *ALL* my
> Linux, UNIX and Windows systems.  The best keymapper for the
> Windows systems is Ctrl2Cap which can be seen/downloaded here:
>
>
>
>
> which works perfectly on Win2K, WinXP, Vista and Win7 since I
> have emacs on those systems, too.  Here's my work area:
>
>

thanks a lot for the various photos and links. It is very useful to me, and helpful in my research in history of keyboard and layouts.

when seeing the last photo, i remember we chatted before. ☺

> Earlier comments about alleged evils of [Ctrl] being to the left
> of [A] are bogus in my experience.  Attempting to use emacs on
> a PC keyboard *without* mapping [Ctrl] to [Caps Lock] *will*
> cause strain and, likely, RSI since the pinky finger has to be
> stretched and bent down in an extremely awkward and speed-
> limiting position.

i think the opinion is mostly from me. Yes we disagree.

do you have any scientific evidence for this?

the main problem i have with the opinion that making left Ctrl is good is that:

• it's simply that way because old keyboard are like that. People get used to it.

• such opinion almost ALWAYS came from a few vocal older generation of programers. And always without hint of any evidence that can be verified in some scientific way.

• when you look in online discussions, you do not see much support of this. In particular, i've seen many who said they tried mapping Caps Lock to Ctrl, didn't find it helpful, thus either abandoned emacs or find other solutions.

i've written a summary account why i think swapping caps lock with ctrl is not good in general.

• 〈Why You Should Not Swap Caps Lock With Control〉
http://xahlee.org/emacs/swap_CapsLock_Ctrl.html

also, every programer has a lot opinions about keyboarding. There needs to be scientific qualification of their experiences to judge their opinions. In particular, in my recent experience of close encounter with RSI, one thing i realized is that, just exactly how much you actually type a day makes a lot difference in what kind of advice or method of keyboarding. See:

• 〈Emacs, RSI, My Experiences〉
http://xahlee.org/emacs/emacs_rsi_my_experiences.html

Xah

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