an ergonomic keyboard, especially suited for programmers?
about traditional keyboards
Your hands are symmetric, so why isn't your keyboard?Take a closer look: to move your right middle finger to the key above it, you have to go left a bit. To move your left middle finger to the key above it, you have to go left, too!!! The same is true for every other finger/key above/below the home row. Doesn't that mean that this traditional way of arranging keys is not ideally suited for at least one of your hands?
Most modern "ergonomic" keyboards are just plain old qwerty-boards cut in the middle (there are exceptions, see the maltron ergonomic or the kinesis contoured), like this one. I think the reasons are that (1) it is easier to build, (2) people don't have to learn something new, (3) it doesn't look too strange.
As long as you stick to these things you won't create something really new...
Do you have dumb thumbs or are they able to hit other keys except space?If you do a lot of programming (which implies uncomfortable keystrokes at least with a german layout) or use shortcuts instead of the mouse, you will experience that a usual keyboard isn't too good for this. The shift-keys don't have a suitable position, too.
Why not using your thumbs to take over some work and hit at least the usual modifiers?
an attempt to make it better
Thinking of the facts mentioned above and having looked at some sources dealing with ergonomic keyboards, I played with different layouts and ways of arranging both parts of a keyboard. The following pages show what I considered to be good enough to give it a try...
It MUST be a good design, or what do you think to be the reason for the fact that is has 42 keys?
update (17.05.2001), updated (04.07.2010)
Just found this one (link dead as of 04.07.2010), looks quite ok for the price..
An interesting board I unfortunately haven't found before can be seen here (link dead as of 04.07.2010).
Still I think it's good I built mine. It'is the only one where I can program which key sends a certain code and so have my layout with any PC and operating system...
When I thought about an ideal placement, I came to the conclusion that the keyboard has to be part of your chair or must be placed on your lap. I didn't do that, because it is not that useful when you are doing other things, too, and not only typing. But the protomic-keyboard (link above) shows that you can built it in a way so that it sits on your lap OR on the desk. That looks quite well...
I started building one where both parts of the keys are arranged similar to the protomic one...will hopefully be finished soon....
After having used those keyboards for nearly four years (as they are now; the first prototype is older than four years) I really needed to update the pictures showing the keyboard layout and things like that.
When checking links I found these related sites:
Ergonomic Keyboard Survey