What is a Keyboard in a Computer? | A Beginner’s Overview

A keyboard is essential for computers. It helps you put in information and commands.

So, it has keys arranged specially. This article will discuss a keyboard and why it matters for computers.

What is a Computer Keyboard?

Credit: Pixabay

What is a Keyboard in a Computer?

A keyboard is something you add to your computer. It lets you put in words, numbers, and commands. It’s like the primary tool you use to talk to the computer.

Each key stands for a different letter, symbol, or action. When you hit a key, it sends a message to the PC.

Why Keyboards Matter for Computers

Input devices are super crucial for a few reasons:

  1. Writing Words

Typing devices are mainly for typing words. Writing an email, making a document, or chatting with friends helps you organize things quickly.

  1. Doing Commands

Input devices also help you do things on the computer. By pressing specific keys or combinations of keys, you can make the computer do different tasks, like opening programs, saving files, or copying and pasting.

  1. Helping Everyone

Manufacturers design keyboards to accommodate a broad user base. There are special ones for people who need help using regular ones, like Input devices with big keys or ones designed to be more comfortable.

  1. Playing Games

Typing devices are not just for typing. They are also crucial for playing computer games. Some games need you to control things precisely, and it helps with that. Gaming ones can have extra features to make playing games even better, like special keys, programs, lights, and a layout you can customize.

  1. Quick Ways to Do Things

Keyboards have shortcuts that make doing things on the computer faster. If you learn these shortcuts, you can save time and effort. For example, pressing Ctrl+C copies something, Ctrl+V pastes it, Ctrl+Z undoes a mistake, and Ctrl+S saves your work. Knowing these shortcuts makes using the computer easier and quicker.

History of Keyboard

The PC typing device has an incredible story that goes back to the 1800s. Back then, people used a machine called a typewriter to write stuff.

The typewriter was a bit like the one we use today but had some differences. The letters were in ABC order, and the keys were more complex to press.

Changes from Typewriters

As time passed and computers became a big deal, these devices changed, too. The input device we use today, QWERTY, was made in the late 1800s by Christopher Latham Sholes.

He wanted a keyboard that wouldn’t make the keys on the typewriter get stuck. QWERTY comes from the first six letters on the input device’s top row.

The QWERTY became the standard for computers. But there are also other layouts. The Dvorak Simplified Keyboard aims to improve typing speed and ease of use.

Electronic Keyboards Arrive

When electronic keyboards came along, typing got way better. Before, typing was hard work because you had to hit the keys hard.

Electronic typing devices have a switch under each key that knows when you press it, and you don’t have to press as hard.

Advancements in Keyboard Technology

Today, these input appliances are much more relaxed than before. Some are wireless so that you can type from anywhere in the room. Some even have a touchpad or trackball, so you don’t need a separate mouse.

Mechanical switches are another cool thing in typing device tech. They make it easier to feel when you press a key, and they last longer than the switches in cheaper ones.

And some special ones, called ergonomics, are designed to be easy on your hands and wrists. They’re split in half and angled to make typing more natural.

Parts of a Computer Keyboard

A typing device is a tool to type letters, numbers, and other stuff into a computer. It has a bunch of keys set up in a certain way.

1) Key Layout

Keypads can look different depending on where and what language you speak. The most common one is QWERTY, after the first six letters at the top—others like AZERTY in France and Belgium and QWERTZ in Germany and Austria.

2) Letter and Number Keys

The letter and number keys have letters and numbers on them. You use them to write words, sentences, and numbers. The letters are in alphabetical hierarchy, and the numbers are in numerical order.

3) Modifier Keys

Some keys, called modifier keys, change what other keys do. Shift, Alt, and Ctrl are common ones. If you press one of these and another key together, it does something different. For example, pressing Shift and the letter ‘A’ makes a big ‘A’ instead of a small ‘a’.

4) Special Function Keys

Function keys are a row at the top labeled F1 through F12. They do different things depending on the program you’re using. For example, in Microsoft Word, pressing F7 checks your spelling.

5) Numeric Keypad

The number pad is a set of keys on the right side that allows you to type numbers fast. It looks like a calculator with numbers and math symbols.

Special Keys

Special keys do specific things. Enter helps you go to the following line or do a command: Spacebar adds space, and Backspace deletes what’s to the left of the blinking line.

To sum up, it is a super important part of a computer. It lets you put in info and commands. It has different types of keys, like letter and number keys, modifier keys, function keys, a number pad, and special keys. Knowing about these keys helps you type better on a keyboard.

Types of Keyboard

There are various types of typing devices you might come across. Let’s talk about them in easy ways:

  1. Standard Keypads:
  • Most people use standard keyboards. They have keys for letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • These devices can connect to the computer with or without a wire (wireless). They are usually the cheapest.
  1. Ergonomic Keypads:
  • If you type a lot, an ergonomic device could benefit you.
  • Manufacturers design these to provide comfort for your wrists and hands. They might split keys into two parts to make it easier on your arms.
  • Ergonomic devices can connect with or without a wire. They’re often a bit more expensive.
  1. Mechanical Keypads:
  • People who play games a lot or type usually like using mechanical devices.
  • Each key has a switch, so you feel a click when pressing it. They can be noisy, though.
  • Mechanical devices cost more than standard ones.
  1. Membrane Keypads:
  • Laptops usually have a membrane keypad.
  • They’re light and flexible, with a thin layer over a circuit board.
  • Membrane keypads are cheaper but may not last as long as mechanical ones.
  1. Virtual Keypads:
  • Virtual keypads are on screens, like on phones or tablets.
  • You touch the screen to type. So you can change it to suit what you want.
  • Virtual keypads are not as quick as physical ones, especially if you order a lot.

What are the Keyboard Connection Types?

1) Wired Devices

Wired keyboards are the oldest type of these. They use a physical cable to attach to your computer. The line is usually USB or PS/2, but older ones might use different styles.

These input devices are easy to set up – plug them into your PC, and you can begin typing. They are also more reliable than wireless ones because there’s no risk of signals dropping or getting messed up.

But, there are some drawbacks. The cable can be annoying while you type, and putting it exactly where you want might be challenging. If you need to move your computer often, you must unplug and plug in it each time.

2) Wireless Devices

Wireless keyboards are getting more popular, especially with laptops and mobile devices. They connect to your computer without cables, using signals like radio waves or infrared.

One good thing about wireless keyboards is they’re easy to carry around. You can use them from far away, even in another part of your house. They’re also comfy to use because there’s no cable to bother you.

But, there are some issues. Wireless devices might not be as reliable as wired ones because signals can be disturbed by other devices or walls. Also, they need batteries, and it’s a hassle if you forget to change them.

3) Bluetooth Devices

Bluetooth keyboards are wireless keypads that use Bluetooth to attach to your computer. People like them, mainly if they use smartphones or tablets because those devices usually have Bluetooth.

Many gadgets like phones, tablets, and laptops can use Bluetooth. They’re also secure because they use encryption to protect your info.

But there are downsides. Bluetooth keyboards can cost more and must be more reliable, especially with older devices that don’t support the latest Bluetooth tech.

4) USB Devices

USB keyboards are wired devices that connect with a USB cable. Many people like them because almost all computers and devices have USB ports.

It is easy to use – plug them into your computer, and you’re ready to type. They’re also more reliable than wireless because there’s no chance of signals dropping or causing problems.

Still, there are some drawbacks. The cable might bother you while typing, and placing the input device where you want it could be tricky.

Keypad Features and Functionality

Some devices have special keys to make things easier for you:

  1. Multimedia Keys:
  • These keys help you control music and videos and adjust the volume.
  • You’ll find them at the top of the keypad with symbols like play, pause, and volume controls.
  • They’re handy if you enjoy listening to music or watching videos on your computer.
  1. Programmable Keys:
  • Some keypads have keys you can customize for specific jobs or open programs.
  • Manufacturers often mark these keys with numbers or symbols on the left side.
  • With these keys, you can make your work faster by automating tasks you do a lot.
  1. Backlit:
  • Backlit keypads are helpful if you like working or playing in the dark.
  • They have built-in lights that make the keys glow so you can see them better.
  • They also come in different colors and styles, adding a fantastic look to your computer.
  1. Gaming:
  • You might want a remarkable gaming keyboard if you’re really into gaming.
  • These are made just for gaming and have cool features like anti-ghosting, which lets you press many keys at once without problems.
  • They also have lights you can customize and keys you can program, making them crucial for gamers.

What are the Layouts of Input Devices?

If you use a PC, you probably use a keyboard every day. But did you ever consider where they came from and how they differ in some places? Let’s talk about the most common types!

  1. QWERTY:
  • English-speaking countries, including the United States, use this one.
  • Christopher Latham Sholes made it in the 1860s to stop typewriter keys from getting stuck.
  • It’s now the standard for most English computers.
  1. AZERTY:
  • This one is for French-speaking countries like France and Belgium.
  • It’s like QWERTY, but some letters are in different places to match the French language.
  1. Dvorak Simplified:
  • August Dvorak made this one in the 1930s as an alternative to QWERTY.
  • Its design aims to help you type faster and make fewer mistakes. The most-used letters are in a comfy spot for your fingers.
  • People with hand problems like it because it’s easier on their hands.
  1. Other Regional:
  • There’s the Colemak layout, which is similar to Dvorak but a bit different.
  • The Russian device has different letters because it uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
  • Manufacturers create them to work with various languages and typing preferences.

Keyword Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are like secret codes that help you do things faster on your computer. Instead of clicking through menus, press a few keys to get stuff done. Let’s talk about the different types and why they’re helpful!

  1. Common Shortcuts:
  • These are for everyday tasks like copying and pasting.
  • Ctrl + C copies, Ctrl + V pastes, and Ctrl + Z undoes. You can use these in almost all programs.
  1. Productivity Shortcuts:
  • Pros use these to finish tasks quickly. For example, “Ctrl + F” finds words, “Ctrl + P” prints, and “Alt + Tab” switches between open windows.
  1. App-Specific Shortcuts:
  • Each program has its shortcuts. In Microsoft Word, “Ctrl + B” makes text bold, and “Ctrl + I” italicizes it. In Adobe Photoshop, “Ctrl + J” repeats a layer.

Why Use Keyboard Shortcuts?

  • They save time and keep your hands happy. Instead of clicking around, you finish things faster.
  • Pros use them a lot to work quickly and without mistakes.
  • They also help avoid problems like sore hands from using the mouse too much.

Tips for Learning Shortcuts:

  • Start Simple: Learn basic shortcuts first, like copying and pasting.
  • Practice: The more you use shortcuts, the easier they get. Try using them whenever you can.
  • Cheatsheets: Print out a list of shortcuts and keep it near your computer.
  • Make It Yours: Some programs let you change shortcuts. Choose the ones that operate best for you.

So, keypad shortcuts are like magic spells for your computer. They make things quick and easy once you get the hang of them!

How Do Modifier Keys Work on a Keyboard?

Modifier keys on a keyboard are keys that you use together with other keys to do certain things. These keys include Shift, Control (Ctrl), Alt, and the Windows key (or Command key on Mac).

When you press a modifier key with another key, what that key does changes. For example, if you hold down Shift while pressing a letter key, you’ll get a capital letter instead of a lowercase one. Control is often used with other keys to copy, paste, and undo things.

Alt lets you access special characters and symbols that aren’t on the regular input devices. If you press Alt and specific numbers together, you can make symbols like ©, ®, and ™.

The Windows button (or Command key on Mac) opens the Start menu or launches apps. You can also use it with other keys to do things like open the Task Manager or take a picture of your screen.

In short, modifier keys make your device more helpful and let you do lots of things quickly.

Fixing and Taking Care of Your Keyboard

Like other computer stuff, your keyboard needs care to keep working well. Here’s what you can do:

Keeping it Clean:

  • Turn off your computer before cleaning so you don’t accidentally press any keys.
  • Use a soft cloth (not paper towels) to wipe your instrument gently.
  • Blow away dust between the keys with compressed air.
  • For spills or stains, use a bit of alcohol on a cotton swab to clean.

Fixing Common Problems:

  • Keys not working: Unplug and plug in your device, restart your computer, or check for updates.
  • Sticky keys: Gently rock the stuck key and press it a bit. If that doesn’t work, take off the key and clean it.
  • Slow response: If your hardware is slow or not typing right, look for software updates, remove conflicting software, or try a different USB port.

Remember, taking care of your hardware helps it work better and lasts longer!

Future Trends in Keyboard Technology

Keyboards are getting even more fabulous with some new tricks. Let’s talk about them in simple phrases:

Working with Other Devices:

  • Nowadays, these input hardware are teaming up with other devices. Like some laptops and tablets have the hardware, you can take off. That way, you can use them as a laptop or a tablet, whatever suits you. Some keyboards are made just for smartphones and other mobile gadgets.
  • In the future, we might see input devices that quickly switch between devices. You could type on them differently depending on what you’re doing.

Feeling the Keys:

  • Another cool thing is feeling the keys. Some keyboards give you tiny vibrations to make it feel like you’re pressing a button. Phones and tablets already do this; soon, typing devices might too. It makes typing feel more natural.

Smart Keyboards:

  • Then, there are intelligent keyboards. Depending on your actions, these can change how they look and work. For instance, if you’re writing a document, it shows a standard typing panel. But if you’re editing pictures, it turns into a set of buttons for that.
  • Smart ones are great for people who do many different things on their computers. Instead of switching between devices or remembering special keys, these changes help you do your job better.

Using Keyboards in the Digital World

In today’s digital world, computers are super important for everything we do, like writing emails, doing projects, or just checking stuff online. And guess what? Keyboards are a big part of making all this computer stuff easy and fun!

Why Keyboards Are Cool:

  1. Quick and Precise Typing:
  • It helps you type fast and without mistakes. Even though touchscreens and talking to your computer are around, many people still find typing on it the fastest way to get words on the screen. This is especially true for people who order a lot, like writers or working in offices.
  1. Familiar and Comfortable:
  • People have been using keyboards for a long time, so they’re used to them. Switching to a touchscreen or talking to the computer can be confusing. With that device, you already know how to use it, making things easier.
  1. Customization for Comfort:
  • Keypads let you change things to make them just right for you. You can make the keys more or less sensitive, change how it looks, and even add extra buttons. This is handy for people who find typing tricky because of how their bodies work.
  1. Durability:
  • Typewriters are rugged and can last long, even if you use them daily. Even though touchscreens can sometimes break, companies designed to withstand wear and tear and keep working.
  1. Privacy:
  • When you type on a keyboard, it’s just between you and the computer. But if you use a touchscreen or talk to your computer, people around you might see or hear what you’re doing. These typewriters keep your typing private and safe.

Even though there are many new ways to use computers, keyboards are still pretty awesome and have many excellent benefits!


In short, we have discussed what is a computer keyboard. So, it is an essential tool that lets us talk to our PCs by typing words, numbers, and commands. It’s gotten better over time with things like wireless connections, fancy switches, and designs that are easier on your hands.

Whether you’re sending an email, playing games, or doing your job, an input appliance is a must-have tool that makes using PCs simple for everyone. So, it’s clear that the most essential part of the PC is going to stay a big part of our digital lives for a long time.

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