Rob Vincent dot net

left head right head

February 18, 2004

Wednesday, February 18, 2004, 10:23 PM

Rob @ 10:23 PM

Woke up this morning to my family freaking out over the jets of steam being sprayed
from the back of our hot water heater.  After much fretting over how we'd pay for
things if our boiler went boom, we got the relieving news from our boiler guy that it's
just a pipe fitting behind it that's leaking.  He'll fix it tomorrow.

I helped a friend of Ninja Dave's out with his PC today, and got to take home one of his spare old keyboards as a reward.  I hooked it up immediately, because this is the absolute weirdest keyboard I've ever seen.  I can't get a good webcam shot of it, so here's the one reference photo I could find...

The embossed logo says "Gateway 2000."  The model number is - I swear - 2191011-XX-XXX.  The labeling on the back seems to place its date of manufacture in 1994.  The thing is grimy, as though it's been stored in a smoke-filled basement for ten years, which it has.

What's really weird about it... Check out that photo.  There are the standard complement of F-keys along the top edge... and a spare set on the left side.  In between the left CTRL and ALT is not a Windows key, it's an extra *.  Between the right ALT and CTRL, is an extra backslash and pipe ( \ and | ) key.  For some reason, the desingers of this board went overboard with the spare redundant keys, and note this was before Microsoft defaced keyboards forever with their stupid custom Windows keys.

Then we have the arrow keys.  After I clean this board up a bit I'll try and get some decent photos up, because these are the coolest arrow keys ever.  There are diagonals!!!  The big block to the right of the Enter key is laid out as follows:

Insert

Home

Page Up

Delete

End

Page Down

Up + Left diagonal arrow

Up arrow

Up + Right diagonal arrow

Left arrow

Blank key (mini space bar)

Right Arrow

Down + left diagonal arrow

Down arrow

Down + Right diagonal arrow

The diagonals work just as one would expect them to.  Hitting upper-left works as if you pressed up and left together.

There are also four keys above the number pad which are used for remapping keys and programming macros, and an LED to indicate "program" mode.  Fear the power of the spooky keyboard!!

Apart from numerous references to a DOS macro program called "anykey" which apparently came packaged with these, info on this curiosity is sparse.  Most resources on this I could find are in Japanese, for some reason.  I've emailed Gateway asking them to dig up any more info for me, but am not holding my breath.

Still, my new old keyboard rocks the world of keyboards.

If anyone has any more info on this thing (why was it made, what'd it come with, etc.) please share!

The one downside to all this?  When I get really used to this board, it'll feel odd to use a normal one when the need arises.

Comment by Infinity2 - February 19 - 4:41 PM

I used to have such a piece of equipment. It was on an old 486 back in like the 80s. it was scary. It was built for dos/text-based systems, I think… where you needed the Function keys more often (for instance, my job now would probably find a second set of Fkeys useful… if anyone knew how to type)

Comment by Unarmed - February 21, 2:08 AM

Rob,

Your 124-key keyboard is a Gateway 2000 AnyKey keyboard. They came packaged with practically all Gateway 2000 (now known as just "Gateway") computers in the mid-90s. The macros are all done in hardware, so the keyboard actually sends the individual keypresses you program to your computer - just really quickly.

Programming a macro is simple - you press the PROGRAM MACRO key, the key you wish to reprogram, the sequence of keys that comprise the macro, and then PROGRAM MACRO again.

This article also may be of interest to you: http//groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf-8&selm=3339F5D0.1DE5%40netcom.ca

I suspect that it is easier to support keyboard macros in software, which is why we no longer see AnyKey-like keyboards for sale -- just the extra function-button-style boards with copy/paste/etc.

Regards,

Unarmed

unarmed(at)dapcentral.org

(Yes, I found your site going through our referrer logs.)

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