Space Cadet keyboard
This keyboard was originally designed for the Plasma Fusion system, as
well as MIT LISP machines. It was sold with the early commercial LISP
machines, such as those from Symbolics. More technical details are
One of the explanations for the baroque collection of keys on this
keyboard was that it was designed by committee, and that no suggestion
was rejected. I actually think that more thought went into the design
than that. Still, many of the user-interface ideas behind certain key
additions never materialized in actual software systems. So, it
remains a monument to design excess.
Later Symbolics machines has a low-profile ("ergonomic") keyboard with
a much more modest assortment of keys, specifically designed for use
with the Genera system, plus the infamous Square, Circle, and Triangle keys.
See here for a picture.
Some interesting things to note about this keyboard:
- The Macro key for keyboard macro processing separate
from any particular application. In the end, macros were really only
supported by specific programs like the editor, making a separate key
- Terminal, System, and Network
keys for controlling each of several layers of communications stack
between the user and their applications.
- Roman numeral I thru IV, for quick
interaction with menu-like lists of four or fewer choices.
- Four bucky keys: Ctrl, Meta,
Super, and Hyper.
- Top and Greek shifts. Greek
might also have been called Front. Notice that there are
legends on the front of the keys. In addition to a dizzying array of
parens, brackets, and brockets, the complete APL character set appears
on this keyboard (but not in the standard APL layout, of course).
- Unshifted colon key.
- Thumbs- up, down,
left, and right keys. It was never quite clear
whether these were for answering yes/no questions or for navigation.
In the groups that used this keyboard, there was a cultural aversion
to arrow keys. To be honest, I'm not sure why any more.
- A Repeat key. Again, there was a cultural bias against
auto-repeat and this was seen as a compromise.
- A nice big Help key, which unfortunately did not do as
much as it probably should have.
- Rubout to the left of the home row, as on the Knight keyboard.
- The broken square brackets on the front of the brace keys do not
seem to have a corresponding Unicode glyph.
The home keys
The circuit board