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The conventional keyboard layout is an archaic design that does not meet the needs of modern PC usage patterns

Improved Numeric Keypad

“The Least a PC Should Do Is Replace a Desktop Calculator”

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We inherited our computer keyboard numeric keypad as a legacy from IBM twenty years ago. IBM, in designing the original versions of the “Personal Computer”, wasn’t working on a blank piece of paper. The PC was intended, at least in part, to function as a mainframe terminal, and the numeric keypad was to serve for data entry purposes. That gave us a pretty simple layout - the number keys plus a few operations keys. It was adequate for their purposes, but really missed the mark in terms of taking advantage of the power of the PC.

We all had desktop calculators before the introduction of the PC, and we all still do, because the combination of the conventional keyboard layout and available software still does not equal the ease and utility of a simple calculator.

As you start to explore this topic, we suggest you download and install one or more of the available desktop calculator emulation application software packages. This will give you a good feel for what potential this concept holds. Some suggestions are:

Here is a sample screen image from one of these products:

As you can see, it’s a good software representation of a printing desktop calculator. It produces a “tape” of your transaction that you can copy, paste, print, or save. Some packages allow you to edit the tape to add notes, and some allow you to edit the transaction to fix mis-typed entries (and automatically recalculate the entire tape when you do make a fix).

Notice that this product has “virtual” Memory keys, Clear, Clear Entry, Back, and Total keys -- none of which appear on your keyboard. You can either use a mouse to access these keys (which really destroys the flow of your work), or you can memorize the vendor’s key mapping and type a magic key combination that translates to the desired virtual key function.

Here’s another sample:

This one has a very realistic virtual keypad. It’s got most of the “virtual” buttons of a real desktop calculator, including Grand Total and SubTotal ( the diamond). But again, since the virtual keys don’t match the physical keys, they need to provide you with a translation table, as shown below:

According to their suggestion as noted in the inset, you can access the secondary key functions by turning off NumLock (if you have memorized the key mapping). Or just use the mouse and forget about efficiency.

But, most people just don’t bother with the complexities and use a real calculator.

So, here we are, twenty years after the introduction of the Personal Computer, and it still can’t replace a simple desktop calculator.



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