One of the first features I commissioned as editor of MacFormat was on ergonomics, and one of the pieces of advice Shelby gave in it really resonated, not least because it had simply never occurred to me. She pointed out that the numeric keypads which cling to the right hand side of most keyboards are bad ergonomics, since it forces [those of] us [who are right-handed] to stretch out to the right to use a mouse.
Since that Damascene moment over two years ago, and given that I use the numpad so infrequently I wouldn’t mourn its loss, I’ve been on the lookout for a keyboard like the one you see above. It’s taken me so long to find one because Apple only made them – bundling them by default with Early 2009 iMacs – for a short period. You can find US-layout ones comparatively easily – I wouldn’t mind ‘losing’ £, but I’d hugely miss the UK-layout Return key – and of course the Bluetooth version is still made so getting one of those would be trivial.
However, I use a KVM and also don’t especially like feeding even rechargeable batteries to a keyboard, so I both wanted and needed a wired one. I finally bought one (in essentially new condition) by the simple expedient of setting up a search for its model number – A1242 –plus ‘Apple’ and ‘UK’ in eBay and then subscribing to the results in RSS. (Did you know you can turn any eBay search results page into an RSS feed by adding &_rss=1 to the end of the URL? Here’s the URL for my search if you want one of these keyboards too.)
Although ergonomics was the motivator for getting this keyboard, however, there are other reasons I love it. There’s always something pleasing to me about using just-enough-but-no-more to do something, and this keyboard is a writer’s keyboard.
It’s also so small and light that if I pause for a moment in writing, my pinkies can stretch out easily to lightly grip the sides and, with my thumbs resting on the bottom lip, I can nudge or twist the keyboard by a few fractions of a millimetre so it’s in the perfect position for typing.
It’s a lovely little thing, and I’m delighted I’ve finally found one.