Calculator Keyboard standards?



#22

I apologize if this asked before, as I did check but did not see anything talking about this.

I have older HP45 calculator, and one thing I notice with the 45 is the operator keys in different order than on all/most modern calculators. I have two questions. 1) Why was old format (- + x /) changed to current one (/ x - +)? 2) Was some guideline set that spell out how current operator layout should be or was it just industry adopting all the same standard?


#23

The original layout was based on research and recognized that addition and multiplication were typically more commonly used than subtraction and division, and thus placed them nearer to the center of the numeric pad.

At some point in the early 1980s, they apparently either forgot about that, or decided that it was unimportant.

AFAIK, there are no official standards for calculator keyboard layout.


#24

Quote:
The original layout was based on research and recognized that addition and multiplication were typically more commonly used than subtraction and division, and thus placed them nearer to the center of the numeric pad.

At some point in the early 1980s, they apparently either forgot about that, or decided that it was unimportant.


Hi, Eric --

I can't agree with either statement. I'd say that HP made a deliberate decision to adopt the arrangement that TI already used. I, for one, find the present arrangement much more logical than the original one. Maybe HP "saw the light", too.

The present arrangement debuted with the horizontal-layout Voyager series in 1981, and was carried over to the HP-71B and the vertical-layout HP-28C and Pioneer series later in the 1980's.

  Original       Present

- 7 8 9 7 8 9 /
+ 4 5 6 4 5 6 *
* 1 2 3 1 2 3 -
/ 0 . 0 . +

"One-handing" a calculator is (certainly to me) an awkward way to use it, and a good way to drop it.

90% of users are right-handed. If a user places an "original-arrangement" calc on a desktop or holds it in the left hand, and presses keys with the dominant right hand, the number keys can be concealed by the right hand when an arithmetic key is pressed. This makes it difficult to immediately enter the next number.

With the present arrangement, the right hand does not obscure or conceal the number keys when an arithmetic key is pressed with that hand.

Note also that the present arrangement groups the functions consistently: '/' above '*', and '-' above '+'. The most common, '+', is conspicuous in the lower-right corner, just like adding machines. No similar-looking arithmetic symbols are adjacent to each other.

Of course, for absolute perfection in thoughtful keyboard arrangement, consider the HP-15C... :-)

-- KS


Edited: 28 Aug 2007, 4:48 a.m.


#25

I wrote:

Quote:
The original layout was based on research and recognized that addition and multiplication were typically more commonly used than subtraction and division, and thus placed them nearer to the center of the numeric pad.

At some point in the early 1980s, they apparently either forgot about that, or decided that it was unimportant.


Karl wrote:

Quote:
I can't agree with either statement.

You can disagree all you like, but nothing you have written gives any evidence that either of my statements were incorrect. At best you have given a few possible justifications for the eventual change in key layout, but those justifications do not contradict my statements.

With regard to my first statement, it is a FACT that when HP introduced the FIRST handheld scientific calculator in 1972, they were NOT copying the key layout of any existing (non-scientific) TI calculator. In their early calculators, TI put addition and subtraction to the right of the numeric pad, and multiplication and division above the numeric pad.

With regard to my second statement, no matter how many other justifications you can come up with for moving the arithmetic keys around, they wouldn't have done it unless either they had forgotten why the original layout was chosen, or they decided that the reason for the original layout was (relatively) unimportant.

Quote:
"One-handing" a calculator is (certainly to me) an awkward way to use it, and a good way to drop it.

Almost every engineer I've ever seen use a Woodstock, Spice, or HP-41C/CV/CX routinely used it one-handed. I've done that for over 30 years, and never dropped one in the process. (I've dropped them at other times, but never in the midst of a one-handed calculation.)

Quote:
the number keys can be concealed by the right hand when an arithmetic key is pressed. This makes it difficult to immediately enter the next number.

I don't understand how it makes anything difficult. Are you unable to retain a mental image of where you saw the numeric keys a fraction of a second previously? Are you really making a conscious effort to search for the specific numeric key you want to press? "Hmmm... where did that four key go?"

Quote:
Note also that the present arrangement groups the functions consistently

As Emmerson said, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but the arrangement you prefer is no more 'consistent' than the way HP did it earlier on. In the early HP calculators, '+' and '*' were nearer the center, and '-' and '/' were adjacent to (and farther from the center) than those. Neither arrangement is "inconsistent" with any mathematical principle, though one might be more consistent with someone's preconceived notions after using another brand of calculator.

Quote:
The most common, '+', is conspicuous in the lower-right corner, just like adding machines.

That argument might make some sense for a financial calculator, but not for a scientific. Many engineers would have moved from an earlier HP to a newer HP, but few would have moved directly from an adding machine to a newer HP.

Quote:
No similar-looking arithmetic symbols are adjacent to each other.

Um, who cares? Any confusion over which arithmetic function is which might last all of two minutes from first use of the calculator. I've never heard anyone claim that the symbols for the arithmetic functions are difficult to visually distinguish. Those with visual impairments might have trouble initially, but will quickly learn which function is where, regardless of what the symbols look like.

Quote:
for absolute perfection in thoughtful keyboard arrangement, consider the HP-15C

For a horizontal form factor, it's a good keyboard layout. I won't claim that I could do better, but I certainly wouldn't go so far as to claim that it had achieved perfection. You're far to quick to throw that word around.


#26

Eric --

Hmm, your responses seemed a tad argumentative. That's OK; I've been known to be the same...

We had a debate about the HP-10C more than three years ago.

Eric said:

Quote:
"At some point in the early 1980s, they apparently either forgot about that, or decided that it was unimportant."

"You can disagree all you like, but nothing you have written gives any evidence that either of my statements were incorrect."


It's quite difficult to refute or disprove any statement that includes the word "apparently". My view is that HP reconsidered the design, deciding that the arrangement used by TI perhaps made more sense for most users and adopted it -- not specifically to be consistent with TI, which, needless to say, would be clearly unimportant.

Quote:
Almost every engineer I've ever seen use a Woodstock, Spice, or HP-41C/CV/CX routinely used it one-handed.

Are you guys burly field engineers with huge hands? I can't span the keyboard comfortably even on an HP-34C. That divide key is almost impossible to reach. Good thing it isn't needed all that often, or else it would have been centered within that region of the keypad. :-)

Quote:

Are you unable to retain a mental image of where you saw the numeric keys a fraction of a second previously?

No, but why visualize when you could actually see?

But you might have a point: Visualization, or "eyes on the display, not on the keypad" was expected, as with typing in era prior to word processors or even IBM Correcting Selectric typewriters. That's why there was a raised dot on the HP-35's "5" key.

Quote:
As Emmerson said, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds

Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous quote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" is a non sequitur here. Division is to multiplication as subtraction is to addition -- both are pairs of inverse functions. There's nothing foolish about keeping a consistent positional relationship between them.

Quote:
That argument ("The most common, '+', is conspicuous in the lower-right corner, just like adding machines.") might make some sense for a financial calculator, but not for a scientific. Many engineers would have moved from an earlier HP to a newer HP, but few would have moved directly from an adding machine to a newer HP.

That's another non sequitur. '+' (on a large key) was placed in the lower right corner for conspicuity and less-encumbered access because addition is the most commonly used arithmetic function for adding machines. That's probably also true to a lesser extent for scientifics.

Quote:

For a horizontal form factor,
(the HP-15C has) a good keyboard layout. I won't claim that I could do better, but I certainly wouldn't go so far as to claim that it had achieved perfection. You're far (too) quick to throw that word around.

"Far too quick"? The HP-15C has been out for 25 years, and I've had one for 24 of those. During that time, numerous models of calculators that just don't measure up as well in certain fundamental aspects have been introduced by HP and other manufacturers. Er, how much longer should I have waited?

Of course, anything can be judged only within the context of what it actually is or was, not whatever else might be subsequently developed. The HP-15C is a horizontal-layout, compact and affordable advanced scientific calculator with a 10-digit, 7-segment display and modest processing speed, ROM, and RAM space. There was hardly any room for improvement of any kind in the execution of its functional specification.

At least you must admit that I offered plenty of evidence in the archived post for the "perfect keyboard arrangement" argument... :-)

-- KS

Edited: 31 Aug 2007, 12:16 a.m.

#27

Vincze asked:

Quote:
I have older HP45 calculator, and one thing I notice with the 45 is the operator keys in different order than on all/most modern calculators. I have two questions. 1) Why was old format (- + x /) changed to current one (/ x - +)? 2) Was some guideline set that spell out how current operator layout should be or was it just industry adopting all the same standard?

I have a similar question. Why did the same keys (- + X /) move from being on the left of the digit keys to being to the right of those keys?


-- Richard


#28

Short answer?

TI (and all the other makers) won the wars by having more calculators sold.

HP was the about only manufacturer who put their function keys in that order and on that side of the machine.

Eventually, someone at HP (edit: had to have) decided to avoid being that different from the 95%+ market share of everyone else. (I'm guessing on the market share # but if I'm wrong, I'd guess HP's share was smaller than 5% of the total).

Might be the same someone who seemed to think it was a good idea to either a) downplay or b) eliminate RPN on some models.

Thankfully, things seem to be different today...but I'm not sure the functions will ever move back to the other side or change order.

Too much water under the bridge.
Gene

Edited: 27 Aug 2007, 3:18 p.m.

#29

Quote:

I have a similar question. Why did the same keys (- + X /) move from being on the left of the digit keys to being to the right of those keys?


Good question. I would think that one could do math easier with on left because one hand could input number and other could enter operator.

#30

Quote:
I would think that one could do math easier with on left because one hand could input number and other could enter operator.

I don't understand your point. Why can't you do that with the arithmetic function keys on either the left or the right?

Personally, I prefer to operate a calculator one-handed. The Woodstock series and 41C were great for that.


#31

With math function keys on left, you would use left hand to do operators and right to do numbers (more quickly). With math function keys on right, you could use left hand for numbers and right for functions, but with most right handed people this may seem awkward as you may be slower with number keys and or less accurate since you using your left hand.

If doing one handed mode, it make more sense to have on right side so thumb not have to travel as far. If using finger, I guess it does not make difference.


#32

Thanks for the clarification.

I'm right handed, but I've used calculators for so many years one-handed in my left hand that I don't even recall ever having had any trouble doing so.

The purpose of one-handed use is to leave the other hand (ideally, the dominant hand) free for typing, writing, drawing, etc. I do NOT want to pick up the calculator, do a few calculations, set it down, pick up a pen, do some writing or drawing, set down the pen, and repeat.

As I mentioned previously, the Woodstock series and 41C were great for that. While I liked the Voyagers (especially the 15C and 16C), they were generally unsuited for one-handed use due to the horizontal layout.


#33

Quote:
While I liked the Voyagers (especially the 15C and 16C), they were generally unsuited for one-handed use due to the horizontal layout.

And, conversely, particularly well suited for two handed use with the thumbs doing all the typing.

Regards,
Howard


#34

Quote:
And, conversely, particularly well suited for two handed use with the thumbs doing all the typing.

Well, sure, but I don't see any particular advantage to that. It doesn't help me accomplish anything more easily or quickly. And it certainly doesn't help me avoid the need to set down the calculator to type/write/draw.


#35

Quote:


Well, sure, but I don't see any particular advantage to that. It doesn't help me accomplish anything more easily or quickly.


It's just one more style. Arguing whether one style is more efficient than another sort of misses the point. Individuals adapt their tools in individual ways.

For example, I was coding on my 42S yesterday on the plane. I held the calculator in my left hand, with my glasses (whose reading lenses don't work for really close viewing) wedged between my left index and middle fingers. In my right hand I held the program listing stretched between index and middle fingers at the top, and thumb and ring finger at the bottom. To "scroll" the listing, I would slip the top or bottom of the listing under my left thumb, wedge it between that thumb and the calculator, and then pull the listing in the desired direction. To compare the calculator screen and the listing, I would either scroll with my left thumb on the up and down arrow keys, or use my right index finger (with the listing loose at the top briefly) to key the arrows. To make changes I would mainly use my right index finger in that mode. As long-winded as this explanation is, I actually adopted this usage style without thinking about it. It felt quite natural and useful to me. I only took conscious note after I had completed a fairly complicated series of moves, and it struck me that I was doing quite a lot with my hands with very little effort.

So that was very efficient for me. Would it be for you? Maybe not. It's not just a matter of how the calculator is placed in your hands and how you manipulate it there. It's also, perhaps principally, a matter of how that all works with your individual human brain. And how that guy is wired is still a scientific mystery, but surely differs from individual to individual.

Regards,
Howard

#36

Quote:
The purpose of one-handed use is to leave the other hand (ideally, the dominant hand) free for typing, writing, drawing, etc. I do NOT want to pick up the calculator, do a few calculations, set it down, pick up a pen, do some writing or drawing, set down the pen, and repeat.

As I mentioned previously, the Woodstock series and 41C were great for that. While I liked the Voyagers (especially the 15C and 16C), they were generally unsuited for one-handed use due to the horizontal layout.


I operate my HP41C the same way and for the same reasons. I got started doing this with an HP25. Its case fits the hand much better than any of the others I have used. The HP41C is just barely usable this way. It is a stretch for some keys.

The HP32S and HP32SII are too wide and have the function keys too far from my thumb to be comfortable, even for my large hands.


-- Richard

#37

Quote:
Why did the same keys (- + X /) move from being on the left of the digit keys to being to the right of those keys?

To further confuse things I think it is worth noting that most 10-key adding machines have the number keys the same layout as the early HP calculators. But, 10-key adding machines tended to have the function keys to the right of the number keys.

So, HP kept the number layout but moved the function keys to the left of the number keys. Interesting.


-- Richard

#38

Hallo Vince!

I think that it is more ergonomical.

If you type with one hand the numbers than, in a natural move back right (ok it works only for right-handed people), you pass the operation-keys and the last down right is the most used +.

Not only the newer calculators and TI used this arangement. If you look at older calculators f.e. out of the 50´s or 60´, you´ll find this keyboard layouts.

Greetings Juergen

I also love the old HP arrangement, even when it is not so comfortable.

Edited: 27 Aug 2007, 3:42 p.m.

#39

Vincze,

There is also another interesting issue with calculator keyboards layout, compared to mobile phone keyboards. This was discussed a few years ago in the Forum. A typical calculator keyboard layout is:

7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3
0 .

Whereas a typical mobile phone keyboard layout is:

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
* 0 #

On the basis of HP35s experience (its positive side), we may be pretty sure that design engineers in HP read this forum, at least sometimes. Many of us certainly got used to classic mobile phone SMS typing and can type SMS messages very fast.

One day the new HP45s, manufactured in China, Vietnam, North Korea, or somewhere in Africa, as the successor of the "best of the bests" (HP42s) will see its dawn and enlighten this world. It will have wonderful I/O capabilities, such as wireless USB 5.0 connection, 10 TB memory card to save/restore programs/data, voice data/commands input, etc. etc. Variables and labels in HP45s will certainly not be restricted to a single letter only.

For those old-fashioned ones like myself, I would like to propose its keyboard layout now (at least, the alphanumerical part of it):

 7	 8	 9
abc def

4 5 6
ghi jkl mno

1 2 3
pqrs tuv wxyz

0 .

This would be some mixture between old calc and classic mobile.

Yes, I know that the qwerty layout would be better (at least there is one on my SHARP PC-1262, sized about the same as HP 11C/12C/15C, meaning fits into a shirt pocket easily), but it is a boredom when you have to type e.g. SIN letter by letter.

On the other hand, in the present (or past) HP42s it is not easy to accept its keyboard layout nowadays anymore, though number of keystrokes needed to input a single letter is certainly lower than in a mobile phone.


#40

Interesting thoughts for the series, how about the HP65 or 67S with actual card slots and I/O

#41

If you're old enough, you learned to "touch type" a numeric keyboard, leaving your middle finger on the "5" key. The reach to the left with the index finger or thumb (this is a right-hand centric world, after all) is easier than the reach to the right with the ring finger or pinky finger. Arithmetic operators are keyed more often than functions, so they go to the left.

Your other hand was used for manipulating the paper.


#42

Uhhh, therefore all the numeric keypads have the arithmetic operators to the left ;)


#43

My 2¢, the wife's Canon adding machine has the + and - on the right side (large keys), and / and * on the left (small keys).

tm


#44

Just curious, what year was adding machine that wife has made (approx).


#45

Probably it was made sometime in the mid 90s. The model is P200-DH. BTW it has an equal button (=) on the left side also.

tm


#46

My 19c has

- 7 8 9 sum
+ 4 5 6 sto
* 1 2 3 rcl
/ 0 . r/s prx

I wonder when the shift was, and why?


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