Trying new stuff sometimes just doesn’t work, especially when it is embedded into society and is in the hearts and minds of some of the most loyal people in the world (i.e. geeks!). So why, oh why, would you want to redesign the keyboard? The history, the tradition and the time learning to type on it are three things that no previous attempt have been able to overcome, but nevertheless μTRON have tried and the result is at no less than interesting.
Just from first glance it looks a little odd, not modern, not sleek and not exiting. It’s just a good old normal keyboard that has been sliced in half and attached together with wire. When you look at the letters you will still see that nothing has changed, it has just been split along the right of the TGB letters to create two separate keyboards.
There are some changes though, most of the function buttons have been rearranged (e.g. page up, shift and Caps lock) to be more convenient for how they are used in the modern world and the duplicates (shift/Ctrl) are now in the thumb position for both hands. However some are more odd, such as the “z” button which has been made bigger (useful as it is such a common letter) and the spacebar is massively smaller.
Now, I can see why this has been done, and I’m sure that a lot of scientific studies have gone into the positioning of the keys and that using your two hands separately is quicker. But no-one is going to spend the next year spelling everything wrong just for the sake of the few split-seconds saved when you decide to type “zebra.”
There are also some historical aspects that I think we should respect, and the evolution of the keyboard is in fact a very interesting story. Many people think that the odd design is because of specific placement of vowels and most used letters, but this wrong. In the 1870s Christopher Sholes (inventor of the typewriter, the keyboard’s predecessor) devised a way of making the user type slowly so that the arms on the typewriter did not jam. This became common place although there were a few alterations, most notably swapping “W” and “E” so that “E” was on the users right second finger, and moving the “R” key so that showrooms could show off by writing “Typewriter” on one row.
So if that small history lesson teaches us anything, it is that the keyboard does have heritage, something that not even the “ideal DHIATENSOR” layout could beat. So to be honest this newcomer never had a chance: it is not bold and scientific enough to make people consider it, and it is to inconvenient to slip in to the modern world. Also if you want to out place one of Computing’s most loved oddities, do not charge $500 for it; I will be surprised if anyone buys this and it will go down in history as an brave but nevertheless expensive failure.