Keyboard with only the letters of the alphabet and a space bar

Oulipo, an artistic group with which that author had an affiliation, had a singular notion: “plagiarism by anticipation.” I do not say this as humor: it is a fact.

That mofo G.P. is my anticipatory plagiarist. Allow no imitiatons: I am principal lipogrammatist in this continuity.

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If you’re willing to forgo typematic (and it seems like most people are, since when Apple disabled it, no one even bothered to write “typematicgate” clickbait stories), then there are plenty of options for making this work. E.g., any key on the bottom row works as a shift key, and holding space turns qwertyuiop into 1234567890.

The only thing that’s really hard to relearn is the letter keys. If you have all of those, there’s plenty of scope for funky key combos, and it wouldn’t even take long to get used to. The problem is that if you’re the sort of person who only ever types on one specific keyboard throughout your life, then you’re probably not the sort of person who’s interested in keyboards.



Yes, that his a complete sentence, forum grammar autocop. Just let me have this one thing.




Bah! That’s a rip off of the original “without-E” book, 1939’s “Gadsby”


this is the perfect keyboard
if you are a poet
who has reincarnated
into the body of a cockroach
and the yearning of your soul
cannot be halted
by the lack
of a shift key



Stupid autocorrect!


I have lived through too many badly laid out portable keyboards to attempt to build or use anything as pictured above.

In typewriters “condensed” is a term for reduced keys, used on some portables. The term is also used in fontography, leading to a difficulty in searching for reduced keys being called “condensed”.

As it was, the exclamation mark (apostrophe backspace period) and number 1 (lowercase L) being omitted became a standard for a time.

I once saw, and should have bought, a working “ultra condensed” that had just 3 rows of keys, but a shift key with 3 steps. Caps, lowercase, numbers and symbols. I am quite sure it was a Corona and labeled “Ultra condensed portable”. For all of the Web’s depth, I can’t find a picture or reference to it. A Corona Condensed is the best I could find on eBay.

At least it has a period and ampersand.

Being dyslexic and dysgraphic I use a typewriter regularly, and for quick labels, forms, and notes to my family. I like the reduced form factor, partly because of how I learned to type. My parents somehow found a typing class when I was a kid and they had actual ancient manual typewriters. I still remember the smell of typewriter oil and ink, the feel of the keys abruptly hitting bottom as character struck the paper- sometimes removing a bit of paper. It was a little like a Twilight Zone episode, the room, even the teacher was desaturated and gray. At first all that were used were the letters, for days on end. When the class started to get in sync with her call-outs, she added new twists. I still remember the flesh between my fingers hurting, as my child’s fingers stretched and disappeared into the machine. (The image of my fingers disappearing is purely a mental fabrication, as the keys and my hands were covered by heavy card stock taped to the typewriter.) - I digress.

I find the idea of a reduced keyboard interesting, and as it is, I have my computer set up to expand scruple (℈) and ellipsis (…), as well as some of the vulgars (fractions) when coded as I type. To have my devices convert and all punctuation as I typed, that would be pedantic and terrible to live through. At least it isn’t typing text on an old dumb phone, or being stuck with only a virtual keyboard platen and be forced to use a mouse to enter text. My stereo had two buttons for entering text (next char and enter)- that was painful.


Please, mind your language!


ee cummings could get by without the shift function, I guess; though he was a bugger for punctuation.

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Adjust one for German, and I know just the guy!

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The standard old Teletype has the same 3-row keyboard. However, it doesn’t do lower case.


I want the Cormac keyboard…

All the Pretty Words

The typer typed lists for shopping and yelp reviews and tweets that flew like little lost birds that nobody saw or knew had died on windswept rooftops. They typed as though each key was a small rope looped over a crazed animal that must be tied down or tamed but must never the less be tied down even though the beast be imagined. Each key a small stake in the ground with rope attached to hold the beast as older keystrokes pulled lose as fast as new ones flew to hold it down. Harder and harder they keys were pressed to drive the stakes deeper into the ground so the words would hold and it was the punctuation that the typer thought the strongest anchors. But they were weak and held no strength compared to the words.

The first key was lost in an arroyo while trying to tie down a wayward yelp review when press after press broke loose the exclamation point which fell to the ground and was quickly lost. Later it was the parenthesis as none were needed as the typer knew already since no sentence need be recursive or descendant to a parenthetical hell.

When the asterisk fell of the typer knew it was no battle to fight further. Seized by a calm and sureness, the typer’s butterknife made quick work of the rest of the keys leaving only a pure and clear set that no typer could deny would allow expression of any depth of any emotion of any feeling. With true words no man needs an at sign to say where they are.


And I still remember how my pinky would get jammed between the A and S, ripping off flesh… I too learned on a manual typewriter, one gummed up by years of cat hair and neglect. The other kids all had electrics. Sigh.

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Fine by me. Just as long as you don’t ask me to kill you.

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