Is the Maltron keyboard for a touch typist?

Question: Does anyone have any opinions about whether a Maltron would help someone who is not a “touch-typist” but more of a “2-finger hacker”? Presumably, part of the design of the Maltron is such that you have to *become* more of a touch-typist, using all of your fingers?

Answer 1: Trying to look from one side to the other will give you a pain in the neck in more ways than one!! About programming I’m not so sure. Our Current production model has the Function keys directly above the number row, so that very little movement is needed to reach them. A number are in use by programmers who have not reported any significant problems. The VERY latest model includes the 3 Windows keys and a separate ALT GR key so that both thumb ALT keys are the same. We’ve also swapped the positions of the TAB and ‘ ” keys so that TAB is now at the centre of the LH thumb group. Comments on these changes and any others that are thought to be desirable would be welcome. But I won’t promise to acknowledge all replies!

Answer 2: However, the Maltron is different enough to make a difference, because the keyboard is laid-out in two concave bowls where every key is within easy reach of each finger. There is an alternative key layout known as Maltron that is available at the press of a Qwerty/Maltron key that enhances the use of the keyboard further because the most used keys are on the home row, and otherwise more easily within reach, thereby minimising effort, and eliminating stretches.

Answer 3: The Maltron keyboard is virtually impossible to use with 2 finger typing. It is essential you learn how to touch type if you are going to purchase one. This limitation also makes it less useful for work that requires lots of numbers, symbols, F-keys etc. I found I was continually switching between MALTRON and a normal keyboard as I switched from text to software/spreadsheets. However, MALTRON is definitely far more comfortable for touch typing.

Answer 4: As I have only just joined this list could someone update me on what a ‘Maltron’ keyboard is, and where one might get one, etc.

Answer 5: The limitation of having to learn how to touch type to use a Maltron ergonomic keyboard “also makes it less useful for work that requires lots of numbers, symbols, F-keys etc”. There have been recent developments of the basic Maltron keyboard that include a NUMDATA version for those who have concentrated periods of figure work, a TRACKBALL model which eliminates the conventional wrist-twisting mouse and a WINDOWS compatible keyboard. Latest design of the basic Maltron keyboard now has the F-keys clustered with the letter and number keys on the top row of the concave areas thus facilitating such work.

This proven ergonomic keyboard – over 600 sufferers worldwide from RSI back to work now – has been considerably modified in the twenty years since it was first developed by Stephen Hobday to replace the standard flat keyboard with a more efficient and user-friendly model. PCD Maltron’s keyboards feature two prominent concave sections featuring an angled set of fully ergonomically positioned individual keys to suit the easy movements of hands. Dangerous wrist-twist is eliminated. Abduction has been reduced to zero and pronation stress is reduced. Plus, they are very comfortable to use, and I for one will not be returning to flat keyboards. Give me my Maltron any day!

Answer 6: The Maltron is a fully ergonomic keyboard laid-out in two concave bowls where every key is within easy reach of each finger. There is an alternative key layout known as Maltron that is available at the press of a Qwerty/Maltron key that enhances the use of the keyboard further because the most used keys are on the home row, and otherwise more easily within reach, thereby minimising effort, and eliminating stretches. It is the ONLY keyboard with the record of bringing at least 600 RSI sufferers worldwide back into productive keyboard work after using one, or otherwise recovering from RSI pains, to some extent or other. There are many cases on file and testimonial letters from former RSI sufferers, and those who have found improvement in their condition, through using the Maltron keyboard, and otherwise finding it therapeutic. I’ve used one for 8 years, and this message was typed with one, and I find it very comfortable, and have no desire to return to flat keyboards. I can provide you with a colour brochure that has very nice some pictures in it. The following Web sites have some details:

http://www.maltron.com/

You can buy one from me. It is also available for hire at 10 pounds per week, plus carriage, plus VAT, and a minimum of 4 weeks is recommended so that you can become familiar with it. Half of the hire cost is refunded if the keyboard is subsequently bought. Research in Australia published in 1974 indicated that the disproportionate amount of ill health of TELEX operators (NO VDU SCREEN !) was due to stress from the keyboard. Since mechanical constraints governing key positions no longer apply, the MALTRON shape was explicitly developed to remove these stresses by placing keys where fingers (and thumbs) naturally rest or can easily reach. The design is intended to be a major step towards preventing RSI or WRULD (Work Related Upper Limb Disorders) from keyboard operation.

When telex machines were introduced their keyboards followed the typewriter shape to maximise acceptance. Likewise when computers were introduced their keyboards followed the same pattern and for the same reasons. This despite the fact that electronics had separated the keys from the printing mechanism and opened the way for a complete redesign of the keyboard to overcome its known disadvantages. The evidence (testimonials from users) that the change of shape of a keyboard can make a substantial difference to operator health, confirms the original findings as to the source of stress and ill health. From this it follows that the standard keyboard is a prime cause of VDU stress and fatigue. That this is avoidable by a relatively inexpensive change in equipment, suggests that the first recommendation in VDU and keyboard related WRULD cases would be to ask that a Maltron keyboard should be tried. I tried one, and I’ve never looked back!

Answer 7: I hardly use the function keys, to be honest, but have managed to write a fair number of Shell and Perl scripts (both using a lot of special keys). It helps if you use Unix-derived editors such as vi and Emacs, which tend not to use function keys. One thing that would help is for the shifted-numeric keys to be identical to a standard PC keyboard – for some reason these are different even on the Qwerty layout, which is a cause of significant hassle to programmers and others who need special characters a lot. Although by now I am adapted…The keyboard I got from you had both Alt keys generating Alt rather than one doing Alt Gr, which was a major bonus for me anyway. Good news about the Tab too, since the only real hassle I have is accidentally hitting the ESC key while trying to TAB – under Windows this cancels a dialog box, which is not very helpful.

Answer 8: We have had a general sort out of older stock and have about 6 or 7 of our earlier “A” model with a black case going for 160.00 inc. P&P but + Vat. The A model is only different from the present “C” version in that the Function keys are in a straight row along the back like flat keyboards instead of being directly above the number row. Most of these have dual key designations, i.e. they show both Qwerty and Maltron letter layouts on the key tops but in different colours. You could paint out unwanted letters if they were confusing. 1 or 2 have had experimental mods, but all have been retested on our 486 and work quite ok. All have 5 pin plugs. 6 months return to us warranty. First come first served.


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