Why Do Keyboards Matter?


Wada (creator of the Happy Hacking Keyboard): because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces.

The HHKB shirt says: 「馬の鞍」- saddle of a horse.

Techne (Emacs Friendly Keyboard): Operations Keys

The most important keys on any keyboard for an Emacs user are the Operation Keys (I made up that term). Without them Emacs would be useless. For Techne (the new name for my Emacs keyboard project) I decided to use symbols instead of letters for them.

The operations cluster is on both the left and right side of the keyboard. Yes, that is a full twenty keys just to make life happier in Emacs! I love keyboards so dedicating twenty keys to a critical task is perfect for me. These sections live on a eight row by sixteen column layout so there is plenty of room. It’s bottom left corner is position (1,1) (Row, Column) increasing as you go up and to the right (ala Cartesian coordinates). In the table I wrote the key name and then the symbol. The picture only includes the symbol.

Legend: C# (column number)

Row Four Five Six Seven Eight
Two Hyper ⬖ Super ⬙ Meta ⬗ Control ⬘ Space ⭕
One Alt ⎇ GUI ⃟ Ultra ◆ Shift ⇧ Enter ⎆


Ultra is: C-m-S-H. Emacs can handle that including the Shift modifier along with it. In case you haven’t encountered it yet, here is how to get all of the Emacs modifiers on a modern USB keyboard.

My symbol choices started with Sun’s meta symbol. After playing around with that, reading Xah’s page on Unicode input symbols, searching for and comparing symbols with PopChar and playing around with a ton of combinations I ended up here. It is nice because it settles on the diamond theme.

KEYR8 (Emacs Friendly Keyboard): Prototype Fabricated


They took a newbie like me through the process of designing the thing and it was fun. Then they fabricated the thing and it rocks.

Emacs friends: there is enough key-space (128 keys) to easily place

  • Control
  • Meta
  • Super
  • Hyper
  • Ultra (Control-Meta-Super-Hyper)
  • Alt
  • Gui


Strong thumb proponents: I’m trying to make it happen here by placing everything on the bottom two rows (including space, Fn, and enter).


Emacs Keyboard Design 36: Mainstream 90 Key Emacs Keyboard Layout

  • Start with layout 35
  • There are only 10 layers total
  • Use Fn as a one-shot
    • Perfect for F keys
  • Use Layer as a toggle
    • Choose layer with number keys
    • Double-tap to return to base layer
  • Remove layer row
  • 90 key layout


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