Space cadet keyboard

Friday 17 October 2003This is 20 years old. Be careful.

Have you ever tried to explain the Control and Alt keys to a Regular Person? They suddenly seem like the epitome of geekly shortcuts. Well, don’t bother showing them the space cadet keyboard. It came with the Symbolics Lisp Machine, and had not just Shift, Control and Alt modifier keys, but also Top, Greek, Meta, Hyper and Super. They took a standard practice and cranked it up way past eleven, creating a geekutopia for entering data into a computer.

Emacs still retains some of this history. It will let you define variants of keystrokes using modifiers like Meta, Hyper, and Super. There’s more about the keyboard at the Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing


Bucky Bits!

All of these wacko modifiers were intended to set high bits in 7-bit ASCII to indicate one of several shift states. According to an entry in the Jargon Dictionary, they had up to 12-bit characters. Yow.

Follow this link to see who bucky bits were supposedly named after:


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