What is a Keyboard on a Computer?

The keyboard (KB) is the peripheral or device that allows you to enter information, and it has about 99 and 108 keys. It is divided into four blocks, function, alphanumeric, special block, and numerical block.

What is a Keyboard on a Computer?

What is a Keyboard, How Does It Work?

The function block on the keyboard contains the entire keypad from F1 to F12. The function keys operate depending on the open program. For example, if you press F1 when you open the Internet Explorer browser, the help window for Explorer will open.

The alphanumeric block is the keys from 1 to 0 under the function keys. Using this block on the keyboard, you can create markings such as parentheses, apostrophes, or exclamations.

On the keyboard, the special block is located next to the alphanumeric or function keys, and these keys are PrtSc, Insert, Delete, Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn.

The numerical block is the part on the right side of the keyboard. The numeric block contains numerical keys 1 to 9, and also provides more functionality with the Num Lock, Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide, Ins, and Enter keys.


In addition to electrical typewriters like IBM Selectric, the first keyboards were a computer terminal that communicated with the computer via the serial port.

In addition to the typewriter’s re-write standards, a serial communication standard has been set based on the lifetime based on the ANSI character set, which is still present in modem and printer communication today.

Escape sequences produced by special keys or key combinations are used, the control key is one of the most used.

Although most laptops include the motherboard under the keyboard, desktops contain a wide variety of keyboards, technologies, and features.

The first invention of the keyboard was designed with drawings of a housewife from Russia. Later, these designs were taken over by the USA and used by Apple company.

The arrangement of the keyboard keys is based on the first typewriters, which are completely mechanical.

When a letter on the keyboard is pressed, a small mechanical hammer moves, and typing is done on the paper thanks to a strip moistened with ink.

When writing with more than one finger, these hammers were expected to write the text every time they hit the paper. Therefore, the timing of the writing process was taking a long time.

Later on, the keyboard layout was improved and two types, AZERTY and QWERTY, appeared.

Both keyboard layouts were based on changes based on the most commonly used keys in each language.

Then, it was thought that typing would be faster and easier for computers to change the distribution of the letters and place the most common letters in the middle area. This innovation was developed by Dvorak.

New keyboards were designed, but the project was canceled due to the users’ extreme discomfort to get used to the new KB, and worrying about the promotion of personal computers that exploded at the time.

Although the KB of the IBM PC and the first version of IBM AT did not have an effect, Multifunction II appeared in 1987.

The 55 series IBM keyboards have been used for more than 10 years in environments such as insurers or public administration.

With the advent of the PS/2 connector, manufacturers began to include this connector in computers. Microsoft has added three new keys to the Natural KB product with the release of Windows 95.

Today, multimedia keyboards have been greatly improved and keys have been added to control the computer’s volume, and also a wide variety of products with speakers, calculators, touchpads on the KB have been developed.

USB Keyboards

USB keyboards began to appear on the market shortly after the development of the USB standard. Also, USB KBs work independently of the hardware to which it is connected.

The standard identifies 16-bit Scancodes transmitted over the interface and 0 and 3 are protocol error codes called NoEvent, ErrorRollOver, POSTFail, ErrorUndefined respectively.

There are other layouts other than the standard English type QWERTY because they are available in different languages.

The language layout of computer keyboards and typewriters commonly used in western countries is called the Latin alphabet, and the abbreviations correspond to the first letters of the KB, starting from the left of the top line.

Different alternatives have been proposed to the QWERTY KB layout, showing advantages such as faster typing speeds. The most modern of these is the Dvorak Simplified KB.


It provides the layout of KB keys on a computer, typewriter, or similar device, and there are different KB layouts created for users in different languages.

Modern computers allow you to configure and use layouts in several different languages ​​that physically correspond to a single language.

For example, in Windows operating systems, you can add additional layouts from Control Panel, or use programs such as Microsoft KB Layout Creator and KbdEdit to meet a user’s specific needs or solve problems that affect the entire language group.

How Does It Work?

A KB performs its functions using a microcontroller. These microcontrollers have a program installed for operation and perform the discovery of the keys when any key is pressed, thereby determining which ones to write.

Microcontrollers do not identify each key with a screen-printed character, on the contrary, it assigns a numerical value to each of them, which only relates to their physical location and performs the operation.

Each time a key is pressed or released, the microcontroller sends an ID code called Scan Code. To allow multiple keys to be pressed simultaneously, it creates a different code when a key is pressed and released.

If the microcontroller notices that the key has stopped pressing, the Break Code value of the newly created code is increased by 128.

These codes are sent to the microcontroller circuit where they will be processed thanks to the KB manager.

The BIOS determines which character corresponds to the key pressed, compares it to a character table in the kernel, and sends the data to the processor, creating a hardware interrupt.

The microcontroller also has a RAM that can store the last keystrokes if the user cannot read due to the write speed.

When we press a key, there may be jumps that duplicate the signal, and to eliminate them, the KB also has a circuit that clears the signal.

Since the codes produced in AT Keyboards are different, it is necessary to translate them. This function is also used by the KB controller, another microcontroller on the PC.

This controller receives the Calling Code (Kscan Code) and creates it itself and communicates serially.

Since the communication protocol is bidirectional, the server can send commands such as configuration or restart requests to the KB.

What is QWERTY?

QWERTY is a way of organizing keys on the keyboard. QWERTY refers to the first six letters that appear in the upper left corner of this type of KB.

QWERTY was patented in 1868 by Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee, USA, who was the inventor of the typewriter. Later, this patent was sold to Rémington in 1873.

This key order is currently used on almost all KBs, even hardware that does not have an English language layout.

The Qwerty layout is replaced by the Q and W keys A and Z in French, and in addition, M is next to L. That’s why this order is called AZERTY.

QWERTZ is used according to the structure of the German language. On some Italian KBs, it is called QZERTY.

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