Experiencing the feeling of typing

Letters A through P in an unusual font.

Without a mechanical keyboard, some people’s fingers still like to go through the motions of typing.

B. J. Hollars recalled:

“When I was in the first grade, I snuck a glance at my teacher’s ‘teacher edition’ of a writing book called Writing Express. I’m not sure why I did it; I suppose I figured it held all the answers to the universe. I leafed through it, and near the end, came across a pair of pages that served as a two-dimensional keyboard. This was before my family had a computer, and since I knew we likely wouldn’t get one for a few more years, that Christmas, I asked my parents to buy me that book, instead. I wanted that two-dimensional keyboard to write stories on. No matter that my stories were being typed into thin air, I just wanted to experience the process of writing. After a year or so of typing stories into air, my parents opted to buy an actual computer. I traded in the two-dimensional keyboard for a three-dimensional one. And I’ve been writing ever since.”

B. J. Hollars. “No matter that my stories were being typed into thin air, I just wanted to experience the process of writing.” Interviewed by Speaking of Marvels. September 26, 2019. 

In 2020, engineers at Purdue University are inventing a way to convert an ordinary surface like a paper book to (really, truly!) function as a computer keyboard. It’s called a triboelectric paper keypad.

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