The computer keyboard is an external input device used for entering text, symbols, and other commands implementation on the computer or other relevant devices. (Insight – how computer keyboards work n.d.). Keyboard serves for such purposes as typing the documents, accessing different menus, playing games, and implementing the wide range of different tasks. The keyboard consists of different types of keys intended for certain tasks; these key types are the following: typing keys (alphabetic letters), numeric keys (needed for the quick data entering), functional keys (their functions may vary depending on the operating system types), and control keys (such as cursor arrows, Control, Escape, Shift, Altenrate, etc.). (Tyson & Wilson n.d.). So-called QWERTY keyboard layout type is the most commonly used all around the world.
The computer keyboard is used by many people on the daily basis; however, not many of them are actually able to describe the working mechanism of the keyboards’ work. The classical computer keyboard is a set of electronic switches placed in a certain order within a keyboard pattern. Every switch has a defined character (for example, a letter, a number etc.); when a switch is pressed, a signal is sent to the computer, displaying the value of key which has been pressed. When a switch is pressed, it closes a cycle, and it allows the electronic signal to be directed to the computer. If to have a look under the keys, it can be seen that there is a tube under every key, with a rod connected to the key’s underside but a little bit narrower than the tube, therefore, it can fit into the tube. Also, there is a rubber contact within every tube, and the keys spring back up due to this rubber contact after they are pressed. There are three contact layers under the whole keyboard. These contact layers make the keyboard able to fix each key pressing. There are two conducting layers and one isolating layer between them. Within the isolating layer, there are holes situated in the same order, as the rods from every key. When the key is pressed, the rod penetrates through the tube and the conductive layer is pressed down, the upper conductive layer is pushed through the whole into the isolating layer and into contact with the lower conductive layer. A signal is sent to the computer by means of the contact between two layers, as the key which has been pressed completes the cycle. Different signals are given by the appropriate keys when the cycle is completed at different points, along with different wiring sets. This is an explanation of how the computer can indicate which character is appropriate for which key, as the key completes a cycle, giving a certain signal. If to investigate the inner content of a keyboard, it can be seen that there are three plastic layers and the LED box. The LED box indicates that the Number Lock, Caps Lock or Scroll Lock keys have been pressed (Reid 2011).
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Using traditional computer keyboards has its advantages and disadvantages. The range of advantages includes as follows. The majority of computers have a traditional QWERTY keyboard in a package because such keyboard is considered the standard one. Therefore, there is the wide variety of designs, which are specifically elaborated for certain purposes (office usage, Web, games). A great number of different devices are produced with a QWERTY keyboard, which makes such a keyboard very easy in exploitation because of the familiar layout. According to Bolton, “If you are touch typing on a QWERTY keyboard, you are making use of muscle memory, which increases your speed. Switching over to a Dvorak keyboard, for instance, will feel awkward and you will have to search for the keys at first. However, some users claim that the Dvorak has a shorter learning curve than the QWERTY if are learning to type from scratch. The Colemak was designed to be more efficient than the QWERTY, but with a short learning curve if you are switching over from QWERTY to Colemak, as the locations of only 17 keys were changed. If you decide to switch over to another layout, you might struggle to type QWERTY again and will end up frustrated when trying to work at other people’s computers” (Bolton n.d.).
The range of disadvantages includes as follows. It is easy to make mistakes while typing the text. It is impossible to create diagrams and pictures by means of keyboards. People with some physical disabilities frequently have difficulties in working with the keyboards. Therefore, such feature as the voice typing would be more appropriate for them. Excessive usage of a keyboard may lead to different diseases, such as repetitive strain injury and others (Keyboard n.d.).
To conclude, it is necessary to mention that the traditional computer keyboards have a lot of advantages. They are easy and very convenient in usage. No equivalent device has been designed yet. Although there are a lot of devices with sensory keyboards, all of them are grounded on the principles of traditional keyboard working. However, the computer keyboard has some disadvantages such as the probability to make mistakes while typing, but many computers have a function of an auto-correction, which facilitates the keyboard usage. Therefore, a keyboard is a very significant device which cannot be replaced by anything else.
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