The standard $9.95 keyboard that is packaged with every computer has numerous flaws in its design. The users’ wrists are placed in less than optimal positions. There are small legs placed on the rear of the keyboard causing the keyboard to be tilted back (positive tilt). Most keyboards also have a slight positive slope built into the keyboard (10-20 degrees). This can be viewed by observing the back portion of the keyboard thickness vs. the front of the keyboard.
The keyboard has a history dating back to around 1870 with the invention of the typewriter. The initial typewriter had only two rows of keys. The typewriter keys eventually developed into four rows of parallel keys. It appears that little has changed when comparing today’s computer keyboard with the old typewriter. However, there have been a number of changes; some good and some bad.
Computer keyboards are electrical vs. mechanical. Less force is needed to depress the keys.
The number of keys has increased from 60 to over 100. This has made the keyboard much wider.
Keying speed has increased.
What has not changed is the parallel rows of keys. The use of parallel rows causes an unnatural position of the wrists and can lead to discomfort in some individuals. Wrist angles associated with keying on conventional keyboard’s show averages of 20 degrees of extension and up to 20 degrees of ulnar deviation (sideways bend).
Ergonomic keyboards were first proposed around 1926 and again in 1964. These initial keyboards were similar to the ergonomic keyboards in use with computers today. Typical features found in an ergonomic keyboard include:
A 10-degree lateral tilt from the middle to the sides.
A 3" distance/split between the letters G and H.
A 25-degree "slant angel" between the two halves (G and H split is larger than T and Y split).
There is no shortage of “ergonomic” keyboard’s on the market. Goldtouch, Kinesis, Maltron, Data-hand, Microsoft Natural, and many others are popular. All have certain claims to position the wrists/hands/forearms in the best positions. The Goldtouch and MS Natural keyboard do an adequate job of keeping the upper extremities in a good position. Both are reasonably priced.