A brief history of the numeric keypad
Imagine a phone keypad and a calculator. Can you remember how they differ, not peeking? If you did not succeed - nothing terrible. Most of us are so used to common data entry devices that simply does not realize that on the calculator, if you compare it with the phone, the keys are arranged in the reverse order. The top row of the calculator buttons contains the keys 7-8-? and the upper row of the phone keypad - keys 1-2-3. The fact that these two keyboards, whether they are presented in the form of physical devices or in the form of applications, are arranged in different ways, one can not discern any logical reasons. Why do they look like this?
The phone's keypad (on the left) and the calculator keyboard (on the right)
This machine is used the world's first numeric keypad, which is a single row of keys with numbers from 1 to 9 printed on them.
The keyboard of the counting machine Jean-Baptiste Schwiegge, 1844
For the sake of justice, however, it is necessary to mention the two predecessors Shvilge, which could be said that they were the ones who invented the interface of human-machine interaction based on the numeric keypad. So, in 183? Luigi Torquay, as reported, demonstrated a prototype of a wooden counting machine, the device of which resembled a typewriter. In 1822 James White in the book "A new century of inventions " described a device using a keyboard with nine numeric keys. Neither of these devices has survived to the present day, we have no evidence that they were not only the fruit of someone's imagination.
The keyboard of the counting device described by James White, 1822
White's machine, even if it existed only on paper, can be considered the earliest example of the implementation of a modern interface with direct control. This interface allows users to focus on working with the input device, without requiring them to interact with the internal mechanisms of the machine. This approach differs from that used in 3-3r381. the summing machine of Pascal
or in the arithmometer. Tom de Colmar.
It should be noted that these "ideas" do not yet give us an explanation of why modern calculators use a keyboard with the reverse arrangement of numbers from 9 to 0.
There are opinion , according to which the calculators are designed according to the model of cash registers. This is worth considering, since the numbers that had to be entered on such machines, representing certain sums of money, contained many zeros, which made the key 0 the key that is pressed most often. Therefore, it made sense to place it at the very bottom of the keyboard so that it was as close as possible to the fingers of the operator.
Although such an explanation probably contains some truth, an argument based on the fact that it is easier to reach zero at the bottom of the keyboard, is rather weak and does not stand up to the verification of facts. This is especially obvious if one takes into account that in the early examples of cash machines that existed before 1893 there was no separate key 0 and there was no cash drawer. In addition, work with such devices was not organized as it is now.
In order to understand the relationship of calculators with cash registers, you need to look at the history of the emergence of the latter.
In 189? James Ritti, the owner of a bar in Dayton (Ohio, USA), discovered that some of his employees were being stolen. Once he saw a counter of the steam engine's propeller shaft, and, impressed by this spectacle, invented machine , which used a set of numeric keys and something like a clock face. The ancestor of modern cash registers was not designed for calculations. He allowed to record information about sales and notify them about the call of the store manager.
Early cash registers that existed before 1983 had keyboards, usually consisting of one or two horizontal rows of keys, representing values such as 1? 1? 2? 3? 3? and so on. These numbers corresponded to the prices of goods sold in stores and bars, expressed in cents. Three vertical rows of keys appeared only with the release in 1894 of the NCR Model 79.
Keyboard of the first cash register of James Ritti, 1883
It should be noted that there are also earlier evidence pointing to the invention of the vertical layout of the keys.
In 188? at Dorra Felta There was an interesting idea of a machine that could operate with large numbers. When this idea developed enough, he decided to implement it, first, using what was at hand, including a wooden box from the pasta, which played the role of the body of his car, called a compometer. The compometer had eight columns of keys with numbers from 9 (top) to 1 (bottom). Each column represented a decimal position. Remember that 0 was still not present in the key sequence.
Meanwhile, cash registers continued to develop.
The keyboard of the compometer, 1885
But here the story is already becoming more interesting. Why did Felt decide to use a keyboard with a sequence of digits from 9 to 1 to represent numbers? At the time, this arrangement of keys could not be called familiar. In the end, then, knowledge about arithmetic machines was not particularly common either.
An acceptable answer to this question can be compared with some mechanical constructive solutions, possibly related to by the method of additions , and with the fact that the keys set in motion the levers associated with the rotating drums. The longer the lever, the more the drum rotates. The longest lever thus corresponded to the figure ? and the shortest to the number 1. The same principle, before Felt, applied Parmeli .
Here is another approach to the answer to the question about the arrangement of digits on the keys of the compometer. It is based on modern design principles and goes beyond the idea that explains everything purely mechanical features of the device. So, in accordance with instructions to the comprometer , it was assumed that operators, in order to enter "9 cents", will not press the 9 key in the rightmost column. Instead, they would press, successively, keys 4 and ? and the machine would add these numbers. To reach the key 9 in this situation was not recommended, since it would reduce the speed of calculations because the operator would have to move his right hand, located near the bottom of the keyboard, to its upper part. Felt attached great importance to efficiency. This meant that the keys that are used most often had to be within the reach of the operator's fingers. There is a feeling that the desire for efficiency has led to precisely this arrangement of the keys of the compometer, but data entry interface This machine can not be considered easy to learn and use.
To achieve maximum productivity when working with a compometer and competing machines, it was necessary to have well-trained operators. In addition, especially when it came to multiplication, it was difficult to work with such devices with one hand.
In 1902 appeared counting machine of Dalton , which became the most popular 10-key machine of that time, making calculators with multi-column keyboards less popular. This device was a smaller version of the typewriter, its keys were arranged in two rows, five each. The layout of the keyboard looked strange: in the upper row there were 24579 digits, and in the bottom row - 13068. What's special about the keyboard of this device?
Surely you already understood this. There appeared ? which we did not see in the previously discussed keyboards.
Keyboard machine Dalton, 1902
Dalton's machine, in addition to a new type of keyboard that does not require the use of separate keys for entering each digit of the decimal number, also had an integrated printer. Accountants around the world could not get enough of such a useful invention. But, after the appearance of this machine, the development of devices for carrying out calculations, of course, did not stop.
In 191? David Sandstrand, an American of Swedish descent, applied for patent (No. 1198487 ). The purpose of this patent was to improve the convenience of using summing machines. Sandstrand changed the layout of the keys, making it more "logical and natural." The new keyboard layout was based on the main block of 9 keys, containing 3 keys vertically and 3 horizontally. In the uppermost row of this block were the numbers 7-8-9. Below this block there was an increased key 0. You could work with such a keyboard with one hand, which made it "the fastest keyboard among the keyboards of all counting machines".
Keyboard machine Sandstrand, 1914
It is this layout that has become the standard for calculators, which is actual even now, when it has been more than 100 years since its inception.
The way from the calculators to the phones
Can you say that calculators, in the course of their evolution, influenced modern phones? Perhaps this is so, but it is impossible to give an exact answer to this question. Experiments with push-button telephones were carried out in 188? at Bell Telephone Company, which is at the origin of telephone communication. This was before Elmon Brown's invention of the dial pad. Western Electrics entered the commercial operation of the device in 1919. This continued until the 1950s, when the automatic long-distance telephone service was significantly extended. Local numbers (usually consisting of six or fewer digits) have been expanded to seven-digit numbers. Long distance calls led to the need to dial 11 numbers.
With the increase in the length of telephone numbers, the number of errors in making calls grew, which made AT & T engineers think about whether this is due to the inconvenience of the keyboard used by the operators telephone services .
Keyboard layout used in telephone services, 1950s
In 1955 3 r3r3311 was conducted. study
, concerning the arrangement of symbols on a ten-button keyboard, then, in 196? another similar was performed. study phone keyboards. The conclusions from these studies contained information that could influence the design of a modern phone. AT & T was going to switch to tone dialing, which implied the use of devices equipped with a keyboard for dialing a number. It was important to determine which keyboard configuration is best for subscribers.
Keyboard layouts tested in the 1960 study
The company has tested 15 layouts, using, among other things, unusual looking diagonal, pyramidal, circular and horizontal ways of organizing keys. This included the layouts used in existing devices, such as calculators and perforators like IBM Model 011. Unexpectedly it turned out that the calculator keyboard showed itself not very well. Subjects preferred keyboard, in which the numbers are from left to right and from top to bottom.
In particular, working with a 2-row horizontal keyboard (5-5-H) was as fast as with a keyboard that looked modern, with a layout of 3x3 + ? the differences between them were very small. AT & T chose the 3x3 + 1 layout, perhaps because it is more compact and versatile.
Note the word "possibly" in the previous sentence. It is useful to us and a little lower. Both studies did not give a definitive answer to the question of the ideal keyboard. And in the UK, they started using a 5-5-H keyboard, perhaps because of patent restrictions.
British keyboard 5-5-H, 1960s
The keyboard of one of the first 10-button rock drills IBM Model 01? 1940-
In connection with the two above-mentioned studies, it is interesting to note the following: the letters never played a significant role in how will be arranged. digital 10-Keyboard Keyboard . People expressed an obvious preference for the arrangement of numbers from left to right, they, with this approach, showed a better speed and accuracy of operation, regardless of the location on the keys of the letters. Theories of that the basis of such preferences will lie in the alphabetical order of the symbols turned out to be incorrect. As a result, the telephone keyboards that we use so far have come into use.
Constructive solutions and generally accepted norms
There are many factors that affect the design of devices, among these factors - technologies and their limitations, ergonomics, user perception, and what they are used to. It seems that the latter factor is the strongest, since it represents what people choose, doing this in our digital era, when the only physical limitation for design thought are the screen sizes. Take a look at the applications of your iPhone or Android-smartphone. You can easily find out that the keypad panels for dialing a number and a calculator are arranged in the same way as the keyboards of similar devices created hundreds of years ago.
Why is this so? The only reasonable explanation for the fact that software developers still adhere to such standards in the design of keyboards is that people will be more willing to work with their usual interfaces, rather than begin to learn something new. Perhaps these interfaces have reached the maximum level of optimization that an interface can have.
In fact, it's interesting to note that in earlier versions of Android and iOS, the phone keypad was used as a standard interface for entering numbers in different fields, for example, on web pages.
Phone keyboard Android 6 (left) and iOS 9 (right) ( Inputtypes.com )
In more modern versions of iOS, instead of such a keyboard, we offer a panel of special symbols.
On the other hand, if you analyze Oculus Go, it turns out that the calculator keyboard is used to enter any numbers (I tested it in a web application).
Keyboard Oculus Go , 2018
Why does Apple and Google prefer to use the traditional phone keypad and even save the letters under the numbers? Why not create a special numeric keypad, optimized to work with it with the thumb of one hand? Why was not a special keyboard for virtual reality created with which it's easier to work using pointing devices? Taking into account the fact that none of the two classical layouts of the numeric keypads provided any benefit in speed, their only advantage was the ease with which they were perceived. It is likely that the reasons for using existing layouts in programs are that they are easy to implement, and that they use in the software already existing patterns of human-machine interaction. Smartphones store the legacy of conventional button phones. Oculus and Xbox adhere to the tradition of desktop applications.
1642: The Summation Machine of Pasquale Blaise.
1822: The concept of the computer of James White with keys.
1844: Schwing account machine - for the first time in history a numeric keypad has been applied.
1857: Thomas Hill machine, the predecessor of the comptometer.
1874: E. Remington and Sons begin production of the Shools and Glidden typewriter.
1879: The first in the history of the cash register, created by James Ritti.
1885: Compton, which uses the keyboard for the first time with numbers in the columns from 9 to 1.
1887: Early Prototypes of Button Phones.
1887: Cash register NCR Model 7? using a vertical layout.
1902: Dalton's first counting machine, using a 10-button keypad with zero.
1914: Sandstrand's 10-button counting machine using the 3x3 + 1 keyboard layout.
1919: Western Electric & AT & T presents phones with a dial pad.
1940: A division operation appears in the calculator Olivetti Dividisumma.
1940: IBM puncher with a 10-button keyboard, in the upper row of which there are figures 1-2-3.
1955: AT & T begins testing push-button phones.
1963: Bell presents 10-button phones.
1963: Canon presents a prototype of the first electronic calculator with a display.
1966: Sharp /Facit has established the production of electronic calculators with a display.
2007: Apple released the iPhone smartphone, which had a calculator application.
Dear readers! Do you think it is possible, in the foreseeable future, to expect the appearance of new layouts of digital keyboards that have a chance to become as popular as existing ones?
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