How Island-Style Keyboards Work

Jun 22, 2018

Unless a computer has a touchscreen interface, it probably uses a keyboard to support user input. For many decades, keyboard have been the preferred method of input for desktop and laptop computers. They offer a simple, effective means of controlling a computer or device. There are different types of keyboards, however, each o which works in a different way. In recent years, island-style keyboards have become a popular choice. To learn more island-style keyboards and how they work, keep reading.

Overview of Island-Style Keyboards

Also known as chiclet keyboards, a reference to their chiclet-shaped keys, island-style keyboards feature square-shaped keys with rounded corners. In addition to their characteristic shape that resembles the popular gum of its namesake, these keyboards also have a sleek low profile that makes them comfortable to use. Today, island-style keyboards have become the default standard used by many computer manufacturers.

Origins of the Island-Style Keyboard

The term “island-style” and “chiclet” have been used to describe keyboards since the 1970s. Some of the first computers to tout this new style of keyboard were the TRS-80 Color Computer and Timex Sinclair 2068. Back then, however, the term had a different meaning. Island-style keyboards were originally defined as having a tall profile with the square-shaped keys and rounded corners. Now, the term has shifted, with island-style referring to keyboards with the same type of keys but a low profile.

The Mechanics of Island-Style Keyboards

Island-style keyboards work in the same basic manner as other keyboards. Pressing a key turns an open circuit into a closed circuit, thereby allowing electricity to flow. A typical island-style keyboard features several layers, including an overlay on top, followed by a rubber key layer, a top membrane layer, an inert layer, a bottom membrane layer and a conductive trace layer.

Benefits of Island-Style Keyboards

Why should you consider an island-style keyboard? First, they are incredibly comfortable to use. The shape of their keys — square with rounded corners — offers a high level of ergonomics that’s naturally comfortable to use. This makes island-style keyboards a popular choice among administrative workers, writers and other individuals who type a lot. Island-style keyboards are also highly reliable. Their simplified design reduces the risk of mechanical failure. While no keyboard is completely immune to failure, you don’t have worry about your island-style keyboard breaking or otherwise no longer working anytime soon. It can offer countless years of use without showing signs of damage.

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