Evolution of the modern keyboard

Type Writer

Ah, the modern keyboard. How far it has come from the earliest typewriters. Today, their flat tablet-like mechanism with small squarish protrusions, or virtual software-based ones are a far cry from the sewing-machine-like machines of yore.  At CDN we take take a look at how it has evolved since the dawn of computers.


IBM Model M Keyboard

IBM Model M (1984)

Three years after launching its first PC, IBM began bundling their machines with the Model M keyboard.  Designed to be more cost effective and easier to use than its Model F predecessor, the overall layout of Model M is still a standard today.  One thing of note is that this model had yet to implement the Windows key.


Microsoft Natural Keyboard

The Microsoft Natural Keyboard (1994)

Another form factor to emerge was the ergonomic keyboard, which gained traction in the 90’s. The Microsoft Natural Keyboard (pictured) introduced in 1994 was not the first of its kind, but featured a price tag of under $100.  Nevertheless, the price tag of ergonomic keyboards, which still hover at $50 and up (compared to less than $20 for a basic one) could have been the biggest detriment to its widespread adoption.


Gaming keyboards (2000’s)

On the other spectrum of productivity, we have gaming keyboards, such as the Logitech G15 pictured above.  Since their introduction in the aughts coinciding with the rise of PC gaming, their popularity has remained steady.

Some key functions that characterize gaming keyboards include customizable keys and functions for in-game actions, extra keys and controls, back lighting for gaming in the dark, and digital displays for critical information.


microsoft surface keyboard

Tablet keyboards (2010’s)

Keyboards designed as accessories for tablets are some of the thinnest input devices of its kind, and generally come in one of two varieties, either to also serve as a soft screen cover, or as a hard docking station with additional battery power and ports.

The Microsoft Surface Type Covers were introduced alongside the tablet in 2012 and attach magnetically to the Surface’s “accessory spine”.


BlackBerry Keyboard

BlackBerry Keyboard (2000’s)

Finally, who could forget BlackBerry?  Although the company has gone through several iterations of keyboard-based handheld devices through the years, the curved, rounded QWERTY keys with call, hang up, and navigation keys at the top is perhaps the most iconic.  With BlackBerry’s next phone rumoured to be Android-based, could we see the classic keyboard on Google’s operating system?


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Dave Yin
Dave Yin
Digital Staff Writer at Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel.

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