14 Weird and Wacky Keyboards

Keyboards without keys, keyboards with mirrors, or keyboards for just one hand: Get ready for some wacky input devices.

In the world of computer keyboards, the commonly held standard for layout and design is based on the 101-key IBM Enhanced AT Keyboard (aka the "Model M," sometimes known as The World's Greatest Keyboard). Keyboards following that standard have a QWERTY layout, a flat or slightly inclined rectangular shape, and keys situated (for the most part) where long-time computer users expect them. Nevertheless, even when computer makers try to adhere to that model, things can sometimes go horribly wrong.

Then there are ergonomic keyboards. For some people, typing on a standard QWERTY layout is too awkward and too hard to learn. Others find that using a standard keyboard causes debilitating pain in their arms and wrists. In response to such problems, inventors have created the 14 keyboards you're about to see here. People with repetitive stress injuries may see some of these keyboards as a godsend, but the rest of us are likely to have a different reaction: These things are just plain weird.

SafeType Keyboard

Manufacturer: Ergonomic-Interface Keyboard Systems

When it comes to weirdness, the SafeType inhabits a realm of its own. The motions used to manipulate this strange, ultra-ergonomic device suggest a bizarre underground tickling handshake used by Chicago bootleggers in the Roaring Twenties. Check out the side mirrors designed to get around the slight problem that while using this keyboard you can't see what the hell you're doing.

Billed as the "World's Best-Selling Vertical Keyboard," the $295 SafeType evidently towers above its competition. My own research corroborates the manufacturer's market-share claim: I couldn't find any other vertical keyboards.
Slideshow republished with permission from PC World. (View original version.)