Some people are so devoted to their keyboard that they search for backups and worry about finding another copy of a discontinued version. Jon Udell, a senior technical evangelist for Microsoft who suffers from repetitive stress problems, uses a Floating Arms keyboard last manufactured in the 1990s. The device incorporates the left part of the keyboard into the left armrest and the right half into the right armrest. The weight of the arms is carried by the rests, which put the hands in the optimal position to stroke the keys. It is the ultimate synthesis of easy chair and keyboard.
“[If you are a touch typist] your hands never cross the center line anyway,” explained Mr. Udell. “This way you take all the weight off your shoulders, all the tension off your neck, you straighten your back, and you breathe better.”
What will he do if it breaks? He hopes someone else builds another version because nothing else comes close for him.
“It’s been a godsend and I don’t know what I’ll do without it,” he said, fingers crossed.
Here’s the picture of my beloved “Captain Kirk chair” that we ran in BYTE in 1996:
The Floating Arms Keyboard, from Workplace Designs ((612) 439-4474), addresses postural problems associated with the traditional desk, keyboard, and chair. A BYTE editor found that switching to this keyboard greatly reduced work-related pain.
From that article:
Understanding keyboards is a complex research task. “That is because the problem is multifactoral,” says Cathy Mishek O’Brien, president and CEO of Workplace Designs (Stillwater, MN), which sells the Floating Arms Keyboard.
Thanks again Cathy. If you should happen to find this, I’d love to hear more from you about the story of this product: how it was developed, why it was discontinued. It’s hard for me to understand why a product that was so revolutionary, and is so effective, didn’t succeed.