IBM introduced three generations of keyboards that drove touch typists batty and continue to do so decades later. The last IBM keyboard was superseded by Microsoft's Windows keyboard, which added three keys for activating Windows functions.|
Having become the standard, most keyboard manufacturers use the Windows layout. Only a few offer key placement options; for example, offering function keys on both side and top or the ability to reprogram control and alt keys.
PC, AT, Enhanced and Windows
The original PC keyboard had an awkward return and left shift key placement. Finally corrected on the AT keyboard, the backspace key was made harder to reach. The Enhanced keyboard fixed the backspace key, but relocated the control and alt keys and moved the function keys from side to top. Many touch typists were extremely unhappy about the changes. The Windows keyboard added three keys to the Enhanced keyboard. See PC keyboard, AT keyboard, Enhanced keyboard and Windows keyboard.
Most PC keyboards work with most desktop PCs or as an alternate laptop keyboard. For compatibility, older keyboards had a manual XT-AT switch that changed internal electronics between the PC keyboard used with XTs and subsequent AT and Enhanced keyboards.
Keyboards plug into the 6-pin Mini-DIN socket on the motherboard. Adapters connect 5-pin DIN plugs from earlier keyboards to 6-pin sockets.
In a class by itself, all the keys on an Avant Stellar keyboard are fully programmable with function keys both on the side and top. Touch typists love the feel of the keys. (Image courtesy of Creative Vision Technologies, Inc.)