Chording Keyboards 



Bellaire Electronics


Handykey Corp

Infogrip Inc

Keybowl Inc.
orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard

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Chording keyboards are smaller and have fewer keys, typically one for each finger and possibly the thumbs. Instead of the usual sequential, one-at-a-time key presses, chording requires simultaneous key presses for each character typed, similar to playing a musical chord on a piano.

The primary advantage of the chording keyboard is that it requires far fewer keys than a conventional keyboard. For example, with five keys there are 31 chord combinations that may represent letters, numbers, words, commands, or other strings. With fewer keys, finger travel is minimized because the fingers always remain on the same keys. In addition, the user is free to place the keyboard wherever it is convenient and may avoid the unnatural keying posture associated with a conventional keyboard.

The most significant disadvantage of the chording keyboard is that it cannot be used by an untrained person. At least 15 hours of training and practice are necessary to learn the chord patterns that represent individual letters and numbers. A second disadvantage of the chording keyboard is that data entry rates (characters per unit of time) are actually slower than data entry rates for conventional keyboards. Due to the increased learning time and slower performance, chording keyboards have not become commercially viable except for specialized applications.

Cushman, W.H. & Rosenberg, D.J., (1991). Advances in Human Factors/Ergonomics 14: Human Factors in Product Design. New York: Elsevier. pp. 179-193.
Lueder, R.K. (1985) How to use computers without using keyboards. Office Ergonomics Review, 2(1), 22-24.
Noyes, J. (1983) The QWERTY keyboard: A review. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 18, 265-281.


AccuCorp AccuKeyAccuCorp, Inc.
P.O. Box 66, Christiansburg, VA 24073 USA


  • Compatibility: PC, Mac, IBM 3270, Sun Sparc, and TeleVideo 935 and 955.
  • Price: $495 + shipping. 60 day lease for $35.
  • Availability:  Investigating . . .

Does not use conventional push-keys. Soft rubber keys, which rock forward and backward (each key has three states), make chords for typing keys. Learning time is estimated to be 2-3 hours, for getting started, and maybe two weeks to get used to it.

Currently, the thumbs do not do anything, although a thumb-trackball is in the works.

The company claims it takes about a week of work to support a new computer. They will be happy to adapt their keyboard to your computer, if possible.

AccuKey's Key Mapping
(a picture of the chording patterns is also available)

(Information last checked:  In Process . . .)

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Bellaire CyKey KeyboardBellaire Electronics
4 Broadgate, Bellaire, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 1QZ 
  (Chris Rainey) 


The CyKey is a chording keyboard that is based on the Microwriter code from the Agenda personal organiser -- a gadget which developed a passionate user fan club in the UK. The laments from owners when it finally died were quite heartbreaking. Apart from general alleged wonderfulness, it was also reputed to be good for preventing/curing RSI. The new keyboard is called the CyKey. It's designed to attach to a PC.  It's made by Bellaire Electronics, 4 Broadgate, Bellaire, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 1QZ.  They don't seem to have a web page. Chris was very helpful in answering my questions.  I thought it was quite elegant -- not in looks, far from it, it looks like it was put together in somebody's back bedroom. But the layout is good.

(Information last checked:  Feb'01)

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ElmEntry Enterprises
1768 S. Colfax Ave, Minneapolis MN 55403-3007 USA
(612) 374-2453, Fax:(612) 381-0892

ElmEntry EnterprisesMonoManus

  • Compatibility: PC & Mac (extra cost)
  • Estimated Prices:
    • $99.95 without GlidePoint
    • $149.95 with GlidePoint
  • Availability:  Direct

The most eurgonic computer input system yet devised. It is sure to provide some degree of relief from keyboard trauma. Type with one hand either left or right. Includes convenient built in GlidePoint pointing device.

By utilizing two keystrokes per item (sequential, not simultaneous) the capacity of the 12-keys is extended to 144. For example the letter 'a' is entered by pressing '0' and '1', the letter 'b' is generated by pressing '0' and '2'. In this manner all of the functions of the conventional keyboard, and more are achieved.

The patented MonoManus® keypad encourages a comfortable and error free typing experience. The unique deep valley shape positions your strongest and most dexterous fingers naturally over the keypad. Keyface contours and placement plus a barrier provide positive instant tactile identification.

Various types of cushions such as felt, fleece, or foam rubber are provided for attachment to the palm rest with a Velcro strip.

(see website given above for more manufacturer product information)

The following protocol chart illustrates all the possible characters and functions.

ElmEntry MonoManus Protocol Chart

(Information last checked:  Nov'00)

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Handykey TwiddlerHandykey Corporation
(516) 474-4405, Fax: (516) 474-3760
Address: 141 Mt. Sinai Ave., Mt. Sinai, NY 11766 USA
WWW: http://www.handykey.com


 Twiddler and Twiddler2

Handykey TwiddlerThe Twiddler is both a keyboard and a mouse, and it fits in one hand. You type via finger chords. Shift, control, etc. are thumb buttons. When in "mouse" mode, tilting the Twiddler moves the mouse, and mouse buttons are on your fingers.

A pocket-sized mouse pointer plus a full-function keyboard in a single unit that fits neatly in either right or left hand. It plugs into both keyboard and serial ports on IBM-compatible PC's and works on DOS, Microsoft Windows 3.X/95/NT, Unix, and Palm Pilot operating systems. Combining major innovations in pointer and keyboard technology, the twiddler is designed to bring renewed enjoyment to current computer users and to attract newcomers to the world of personal computing.

Now, driverless PS/2 output,  an easy interface to the Palm Pilot plus USB keyboard and mouse!   Announcing the Twiddler2 on track for shipping December 1st!

Welcome to Handykey Corporation, makers of the Twiddler. A combination keyboard and mouse that weighs 4 ounces and fits in the palm of your hand. The Twiddler is an enabling technology of wearable computing.

(see website given above for more manufacturer product information)

(Information last checked:  Nov'00)

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Infogrips Bat KeyboardInfogrip, Inc.
1141 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001 USA
800-397-0921 or 805-652-0770
Fax: 805-652-0880

 The Bat Personal Keyboard

  • Compatibility: Mac, PC.
  • Price: $349 (dual set - each one is a complete keyboard by itself) $199 (single)
  • Availability: Direct and through keyboard resellers.

The BAT™ Personal Keyboard is an innovative, ergonomic, one handed computer input device. Its exclusive chordset and simple design replicates all the functions of a traditional QWERTY keyboard yet with greater efficiency and convenience.

Released in 1991, the BAT's exclusive chordset was developed by Dr. Daniel Gopher, an internationally recognized expert in human factors and motor skills. His research focused on developing a highly advanced chordset that was easy to learn, easy to use, and most efficient.

(see website given above for more manufacturer product information)

From Princeton's TIFAQ FTP Archive:

MacWeek review on the Bat

(Information last checked:  Website down . . . checking . . .)

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The KeybowlKeybowl Inc.
Winter Park, Florida
(407) 622-7774 or 877) 363-7774
Fax: (407) 622-7772


orbiTouch Keyless Keyboard

  • Estimated Price: $399 currently with a 20% pre-order discount.
    Availability: Target launch date is December 2000

The Keybowl™ keyboard represents an entirely new method of typing. It is the first keyboard that totally eliminates finger motion and wrist motion.   It is also the first ergonomically designed keyboard geared to all typists, especially those with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) or other physical upper extremity disabilities.

Key Features Include:

  • Total elimination of finger movement while typing and navigating
  • Minimization of wrist movement
  • Easy to learn
  • A solution to help combat carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) as it relates to typing.
  • Allows people with upper extremity disabilities an ability to effectively type and navigate computer systems with little or no pain.
  • Extensively researched keyboard.  Visit their ergonomic research section to learn about the development of the Keybowl™.


(Information last checked:  Nov'00)

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Last Updated: 01/18/02