Chorded keyboard to input texts almost directly in ASCII code

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I designed this "pocket" keyboard in April 1994 when I was thinking about hidden ways to enter text into computers and now when I'm almost 50 and my eyesight constantly deteriorates year over year I decided to resurrect this idea to help people who needs it (and myself in near future) to enter text (like programs for example) without using vision. Keyboard was intended to use headphones as a feedback - it will say anything that person entered to allow to correct immediately if something was entered wrong.

This is how I imagined it in April 1994 (with remarks in Russian):

Main idea was to represent ASCII code directly - multi-position slide switch on the side chooses "mode" that will code bits 5 and 6 (choose couple columns from ASCII chart as shown below) then 4 fingers will press some of the buttons 1 2 3 4 above that will represents bits 3 2 1 0 respectively then thumb will press one of the strobe buttons on the left side - that enters code with 1 or 0 as bit 4 (left column or right column in chosen pair of the columns):

And third larger strobe button (lowest one that is marked below as SPECIAL - STROBE 2) will represent special column of codes that partially mapped to ASCII column 0, partially to ASCII column 1 and partially have some frequently used characters from other columns (this strobe will work in any mode so it's like a shortcut):

It should say every entered code back to the headphones and user will be able to delete wrongly entered character by inserting "backspace" (press button 3 and then strobe 2).

  • History of chorded keyboards

    SHAOS05/28/2023 at 22:21 0 comments

    Over there years I found out that this idea was very popular since 70s and there were many other examples of such "chorded" keyboards - see

    It was Xerox Alto keyset:

    It was Microsoft microwriter:

    It was the BAT:

    and most recent one is SpiffChorder:

    Here in 2012 video one of the authors of SpiffChorder describes it and shows how to use it: (as we can see it detects combination when most keys are pressed and sends back code when all keys released - so it's constantly reading all keys to guess what user decided to enter).

    Problem with all of those keyboards (as I see it) is that characters are represented by some "random" combinations of keypresses while authors tried to put some logic behind it as to resemble shape of the character for example

    (these are very questionable resemblances I think) or some other reasoning as Modified NASA keybindings (used in "The BAT" and SpiffChorder).

    I think working directly with ASCII is more logical especially for people who look at ASCII chart for decades and already remember most of the codes :)

    And explicit existence of strobe keys in my design should simplify reading algorithm significantly....

  • Original page from my notes from April 1994

    SHAOS05/28/2023 at 21:30 0 comments

    If you understand Russian handwriting you can read original design from my notes from April 1994:

    At that time it was 1 extra button "agree", but now I decided to remove it to make process of entering faster - anything wrongly entered always could be deleted by "backspace" code.

    And at that time I also thought about RF way to deliver codes to computer as if it was Bluetooth already available ( it was not ; )

    Somewhere around 2000 I even wrote a simulator for PC when you can use some keys of regular PC keyboard to mimic this chorded keyboard, but unfortunately I lost both sources and binaries of that program, so I'm going to write a new one...

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 05/28/2023 at 21:30 point

Best to keep getting your eyes checked out from time to time. Several years ago I was told that in 12 to 15 years I would have to face cataracts and the treatments. Guess I am down to 8 years by now and I currently have a troublesome issue with floaters in my right eye.

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SHAOS wrote 05/28/2023 at 21:35 point

That's not good - wish you best and good eye doctor

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 05/28/2023 at 21:38 point

Well, laser treatments are getting better all the time and by then there might be even better options.

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Dr. Cockroach wrote 05/28/2023 at 20:57 point

Almost 50? You sill have a lot left in you. Us older folks ( 66 years young ) have the eyesight issues mounting. As for this project, I love it.

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SHAOS wrote 05/28/2023 at 21:05 point

I know I have a long way in front of me hopefully :)
but still my eyesight is making me worrying for the last 5 years or so...

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