A chorded keyboard
(sometimes called chording keyboard
or simply chord keyboard
) is a computer input device. Instead of using one key for each character, as on a QWERTY
keyboard, the user presses multiple-key combinations, similar to the playing of chordss
on a guitar
. Such technology has been around for many years, possibly originating from Doug Engelbart
, inventor of the computer mouse
, but is little known to the public because special training is needed to use it. For example, each finger might control one key which corresponds to one bit
in a byte
, so that one to eight fingers can enter any character
in the ASCII
set if the user can remember the binary codes. There are many different designs based on the same concept, some requiring only one hand for operation.
Due to the small number of keys required (the minimal design only needs one key for each finger), a chorded keyboard is easily fitted in a grip such as the one on a bicycle handle bar. It is a good replacement for the regular keyboard, especially in applications such as the wearable computer. On the other hand, the failure of touch-typing to penetrate the world after a century of availability leads buyers to question their ability to remember the chordings necessary.
One of the earliest commercial models was the five-button Microwriter, designed by Cy Endfield and first sold in 1980. It was designed only for right-handed use. A modern example of a chorded keyboard is the GKOS keyboard which is intended for tiny tablet PCs and wireless mobile terminals.