End of Evolution (long)

I wish I could remember who said first what I’m going to say now. The idea isn’t mine; if you disagree with it, don’t blame me.

The point I want to make is that devices are first created using a less-than-ideal design, which keep improving through the years as user feedback arrives pointing out possible improvements.

But this evolution reaches an end sometime. A time comes when it’s impossible to further improve on utensils such as spoons and forks, chairs, toothbrushes, and so forth. You can make an aesthetic improvement, but not one of functionality. You can also add gee-whiz gimmicks and doodads, but you can’t really make the product better.

I believe the telephone keyboard belongs in this category. It reached its plateau many years ago. Making oddly shaped keys or holographic captions won’t make the keyboard better; in fact, it usually does the opposite. Often I’ve seen phones (which are designed to look antique) in which the buttons are arranged in a circle. Others have the buttons arranged in a triangle. All these make the phone _difficult_ to use; in an emergency I don’t want to have to figure out where the 9 and the 1 keys are so I can dial 911. I’d rather have a boring, square-shaped keyboard in which the keys haven’t moved since the 1970s.

Likewise with calculators. Give me a boring rectangular keyboard and I’ll be happier than if the keyboard were along the lines of HP’s latest abomination, the HP-33S.



i have always wanted a telephone with a keyboard the same way up as a calculator.


Now that isw an interesting idea.

The other day, I was struggling with the HP-45 a bit, since it has the old original locations for the math operators. This got me to thinking: How come I never feel awkward or discombobulated when going from calculator to telephone?! Like, the numbers run opposite, yet I don't fumble!

I guess the brain is a remarkable thing.

So also this is why design is so difficult--since adaptation can sometimes prove to be just fine. Or in other words, finding the difference between mere stylistic annoyance and truly bad design is not always straightforward.


The new HP33 keyboard layout designer seems to be the same of nokia cel design center...haha.



BTW, I read an interesting article about Nokia and Cell Phones in a business magazine about a year ago. It turns out that the guy behind all of their great designs is not Finnish--and neither is their manufacturing chief. The designer is a Southern Califronia dude who dreams about almost nothing but cell phones, and the manufacturing chief is a Princeton grad from the U.S. So much for Finnish ingenuity :-(

Also, my old 1989 Saab 900 had a Nokia spare tire. And our first big CAD monitor in 1994 was a NOKIA. It burned out in 99.

(somebody from Finland, flame me, PLEASE!)





if I remember right it was mentioned in comp.sys.hp48 by JYA that the HP49G in fact was designed by the company which designs Nokia phones ...



This is the post from JYA.




Anyone remember the weird chairs that came from the '70's? Egg-shaped, uncomfortable, and even comfortable but strange "ergonomic" shapes? Pretty much back to the same chair they had thousands of years ago now.

I like my old chair. And I like my old calculator.

Now, maybe I'm just an "old (slang for flatulence)", but this IS testable. Let's pit someone using an old HP-67 (or equivalent) against someone using one of the new TI's, etc. and give them some problems to solve.

But, alas, I'm very biased. But maybe not.... I remember the great awe I felt as I looked at and held an old HP. Still have the same feeling. I don't get too excited holding a TI-83. Maybe because nothing's so new anymore, but I'll bet there's more to it than that.


serious users of a telephone don't use triangle layouts with rocker keys.

serious users of a calculator won't use V layouts.

HP has- apparently deliberately (this is obvious enough they CANNOT have missed it) designed a toy. this is not a serious calculator for professionals. It has the *capability* to be one, but HP doesn't want that, so they design a toy cover.

anyone have plans to try making sane keyboards? I'll buy one if ya do.....


So you have found some "foreign" workers on the biggest multi-national cell phone manufacturing company?
The design of the circuitry and the outer cell is not entirely Finnish, but the programming is mostly done in Finland.
The series 60 platform is the defacto standard in cell phone software engineering and it is certainly Finnish from the root to the leaves.
The head of the company, Jorma Ollila, is a genuine original Finn.
PS: The flame you wanted:

May the flees from thousand hobo dogs bite you!


Terve VPN,

Thank you for your reply!

Now that I have your attention, let's add some more outstanding Finnish technical and business achievements:

Shipbuilding: Turku and Helsinki (the old Wärtsilä now Aker-Kvaerner) arguably the most capable builders of complex ships in the world.

Software: NAPA (Naval Architectural Package) A remarkable ship design system--including a programming language. Used by many of the world's best yards--not just the Finnish ones.

Engines: Regardless of the business woes of a few years past, one must regard Wärtsilä with admiration.

Yachts: Nautor's Swan. Outstanding. Has been and continues to be the most sought-after production yacht in the world.

The list goes on.

And yes, hobo dog fleas are NASTY! (ouch;^)

Best regards,

Bill Platt

Edited: 16 Aug 2003, 8:39 a.m. after one or more responses were posted


Nokia sure has come a long way from their days of making toilet paper, haven't they.


Hmm, perhaps Finland is a bit more advanced than as depicted in the 1980 comedy LP, "Monty Python's Contractual Obligation Album":

Finland, Finland, Finland
The country where I want to be
Your mountains so lofty
Your treetops so tall
Finland, Finland, Finland
Finland has it all!

Edited: 17 Aug 2003, 4:20 a.m.


Speck; Was it the thinest and brightest colored? - d


Probably. I wouldn't know, though. We always got the cheap stuff!


They've been quietly busy up there for 23 years.....

By the way, did you know that Santa Claus really lives in Finland? Thousands of people from around the world--especially from Japan, flock to the "North Pole" in Finland every winter.

But it's the Sauna that is Finland's most envigorating feature. My Finnish friend's father was known for running out of the Sauna in his community and jumping in the snow, only to trot back in for more heat. All stark naked, of course...it just wouldn't be right any other way!

Imagine the sight of Santa Claus doing that---you got the picture!

Edited: 17 Aug 2003, 2:41 p.m.

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