Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 9th Mar 2012 19:11 UTC
General Development "I was reading about vim the other day and found out why it used hjkl keys as arrow keys. When Bill Joy created the vi text editor he used the ADM-3A terminal, which had the arrows on hjkl keys, so naturally he reused the same keys." As interesting as that is, John Graham-Cumming goes even further back in history. "The reason that keyboard had those arrows keys on it was because those keys correspond to CTRL-H, J, K, L and the CTRL key back then worked by killing bit 6 (and bit 5) of the characters being typed." Truly fascinating stuff, even though it's from way before my time (I'm from 1984).
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RE[2]: ...
by zima on Fri 16th Mar 2012 23:52 UTC in reply to "RE: ..."
zima
Member since:
2005-07-06

But wait, there's more:

Imagine a person with impaired movement of the arm (arm in singular may mean that only one arm is available) or the hand uses a computer. Compare the travelling distance of the fingers from the alphanumeric keyboard section over to the cursor keys. Know that the Escape key is used to switch vi's modes. Now you can easily recognize that having the alternative not to use the cursor keys can be a benefit!

"A minimum for remote access" or... touchtyping are all well and good, but this^ one might be not so simple, & perhaps you should have looked at the keyboard while typing it. :p

HJKL are basically right in the middle between Esc and cursor keys (for somebody who certainly doesn't type that much in the first place, home row resting place has less meaning) ...plus:

a) cursor keys are typically quite conveniently at least as a semi-separate block, most importantly with no keys below them that can be hit accidentally

b) HJKL & Esc require attention to not hit any of the keys around and below, by that malfunctioning hand.

So as to which one's easier ...yeah, I remember well how it worked when I had my broken hand in a plaster - cursor keys were one of the few totally unaffected, usage-wise (modal things were the biggest issue)

Of course, all those considerations don't apply to mouse-driven users, just as vi doesn't apply to any average person. :-)

Though OTOH even vi (and such) users still fall under http://plan9.bell-labs.com/wiki/plan9/Mouse_vs._keyboard/index.html ...their brains aren't that "non-average" (generally, being very invested into this stuff makes some biases of perception easier - remember, they are felt by the very same organ which invested a lot of effort into given skill)

Edited 2012-03-16 23:54 UTC

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