April 25, 2024

Benjamin Better

Better Get Computer


Two-Thirds Keyboard Is Inspired By The Typesetting Era

We see all kinds of custom keyboard builds around here. Most of them are intended to optimize typing to the user’s desires. This glorious build from [Attoparsec] isn’t one of those, and is instead part of the growing joke keyboard genre. The so-called Two-Thirds Keyboard is inspired by the long-gone typesetting era.

The build is based on the typecases used in the era when type was assembled by hand. Typesetters would grab “majuscule” letters from the upper case of type, and “miniscule” letters from the lower case of type, when setting a page, which would go on to influence how we refer to those letters today. Letters that came up more often, like e and s, would get larger compartments in the type cases, while rarer letters like z and q would get smaller compartments. The Two-Thirds keyboard replicates this by giving the most common letters the biggest keys, while rarer letters and upper-case majuscule letters get smaller keys. The overall layout matches that of the popular Two-Thirds California Case of type that grew popular in the US in the typesetting era.

There were some engineering issues in building the keyboard. While stabilizers are available for wide keys like Enter and Space in regular keyboard designs, stabilizing keys that are wide and high is fussy. The build relies on multiple switches to enable them to move cleanly. Nor were 2×2 and 2×3-sized custom keycaps readily available. In the end, resin printing was key to producing all the necessary components.

Typing on the keyboard is not quick, but lower speeds were probably acceptable in the typesetting era. Regardless, [Attoparsec] used it for a full week to do it justice, going from around 10  wpm to 22 wpm by the end of the test.

It’s a fun build, but by no means the slowest keyboard we’ve ever seen.

Thanks to [Smellsofbikes] for the tip!