beanz Magazine

Computer Keyboard History

Anton Vakulenko on Flickr

Believe it or not, computers and keyboards were not invented together.

Computer keyboards were created only when the traditional way to input data into a computer — punch cards and paper tape — became obsolete. While they use the keys from a typewriter, computer keyboards evolved from teleprinters.

If you think about it, typewriters are a natural extension of the printing press. In 1575, an Italian printmaker Francesco Rampazzetto created a machine to impress individual letters on paper. In 1714, Henry Mill in Britain patented a machine to type letters on paper. In the early 1800s, several Italian inventors created versions of a typewriter. One inventor, Agostino Fantoni, built his typewriter to enable his blind sister to write. Modern typewriters were invented and mass produced from the 1860s onwards.

Computer keyboards descend directly from teletypes or teleprinters, devices that could send and receive messages from one teleprinter to another or to many teleprinters. These devices used dedicated telephone circuits, switched networks like the phone company, radio waves, and microwaves. Teleprinters also used modems to connect to computers through telephone lines. And they were used to generate punch cards and paper tape for computers to process.

Teleprinters did much more than typewriters. They also could produce computer codes and be controlled by computer codes.


Become a subscriber and get access to the rest of this article. Plus all our magazine articles.

Stories also include numerous links to help parents, kids, and teachers learn more. Get access today at just $15 per year!

Subscribe Today!

Also In The April 2016 Issue

The iDTech summer camp recently posted 102 questions. Here are a few with links to the full list.

The choice of a first programming language can be overwhelming, from simple drag and drop to full languages.

REST is a standard way for software applications to work with each other to do things.

Blockchain software technology works as a distributed ledger to record what was done and when.

Believe it or not, computers and keyboards were not invented together.

Learn the basics of Go plus neat math details about Go and AlphaGo, the computer that beat a human playing Go.

If you were a wizard, wouldn't you want to know how to scale your spells for maximum effect?

— John Johnson

A phone and tablet app exposes the invisible world of radio, phone, and satellite waves that connect our computers.

ASCII is a set of letters, numbers, and characters computers use to communicate accurately.

Links from the bottom of all the April 2016 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Computing at School (CAS) provides resources and support for computer science teachers and parents.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for April 2016.