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Alt key
arrow keys
Backspace key
Break key
Caps Lock key
Control key
Delete key
Dvorak keyboard
End key
Enhanced Keyboard
Enter key

The set of typewriter-like keys that enables you to enter data into a computer. Computer keyboards are similar to electric-typewriter keyboards but contain additional keys. The keys on computer keyboards are often classified as follows:
  • alphanumeric keys -- letters and numbers
  • punctuation keys -- comma, period, semicolon, and so on.
  • special keys -- function keys, control keys, arrow keys, Caps Lock key, and so on.
  • The standard layout of letters, numbers, and punctuation is known as a QWERTY keyboard because the first six keys on the top row of letters spell QWERTY. The QWERTY keyboard was designed in the 1800s for mechanical typewriters and was actually designed to slow typists down to avoid jamming the keys. Another keyboard design, which has letters positioned for speed typing, is the Dvorak keyboard.

    There is no standard computer keyboard, although many manufacturers imitate the keyboards of PCs. There are actually three different PC keyboards: the original PC keyboard, with 84 keys; the AT keyboard, also with 84 keys; and the enhanced keyboard, with 101 keys. The three differ somewhat in the placement of function keys, the Control key, the Return key, and the Shift keys.

    In addition to these keys, IBM keyboards contain the following keys: Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, Insert, Pause, Num Lock, Scroll Lock, Break, Caps Lock, Print Screen.

    There are several different types of keyboards for the Apple Macintosh. All of them are called ADB keyboards because they connect to the Apple Desktop bus (ADB). The two main varieties of Macintosh keyboards are the standard keyboard and the extended keyboard, which has 15 additional special-function keys.


    Special Keys on PC Keyboards

    Alt keyShort for Alternate, this key is like a second Control key.
    Arrow keysMost keyboards have four arrow keys that enable you to move the cursor (or insertion point) up, down, right, or left. Used in conjunction with the Shift or Alt keys, the arrow keys can move the cursor more than one position at a time, but this depends on which program is running.
    Backspace key Deletes the character just to the left of the cursor (or insertion point) and moves the cursor to that position.
    Caps Lock Key A toggle key that, when activated, causes all alphabetic characters to be uppercase.
    Ctrl keyShort for Control, this key is used in conjunction with other keys to produce control characters. The meaning of each control character depends on which program is running.
    Delete keySometimes labeled Del, deletes the character at the current cursor position, or the selected object, but does not move the cursor. For graphics-based applications, the Delete key deletes the character to the right of the insertion point.
    Enter keyUsed to enter commands or to move the cursor to the beginning of the next line. Sometimes labeled Return instead of Enter.
    Esc keyShort for Escape, this key is used to send special codes to devices and to exit (or escape) from programs and tasks.
    Fn keyShort for Function, this key is used in conjunction with other keys to produce special actions that vary depending on which program is running. This key is found most frequently on portable computers that do not have full-size keyboards.
    Function Keys Special keys labeled F1 to Fx, x being the number of function keys on the keyboard. These keys have different meanings depending on which program is running.
    Return keyAnother name for the Enter key.

    More Information

      DataHand Systems home page
    Home page for DataHand Systems, manufacturer of ergonomically designed keyboards for computer users. There are links to company information, their productivity keyboard product, and keyboarding dangers such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Updated on Feb 26, 1998

      Keyboard Controller functions
    Describes the functions of the keyboard controller and what functions it provides. This page is from "The PC Guide".

      List of input device manufacturers
    Presents a comprehensive guide to manufacturers of various input devices like digital cameras, digitizers, keyboards, monitors, and printers. Updated on Aug 5, 1998

      PC keyboard FAQs
    Contains a collection of FAQs focusing on keyboards. Updated on Jun 26, 1998

      Troubleshooting Keyboards
    Discusses troubleshooting of problems with keyboards or related to them. This page is from "The PC Guide."

      Yahoo!'s Dvorak keyboard page
    Yahoo!'s directory of Dvorak keyboard. Updated on Aug 4, 1998

      Yahoo!'s keyboards page
    Yahoo!'s directory of keyboards. Updated on Aug 4, 1998


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