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Re: origin of the Meta key


From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: origin of the Meta key
Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 23:38:33 -0400
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b3 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article 
<address@hidden>,
 Xah <address@hidden> wrote:

> On Aug 23, 2:41 pm, Barry Margolin <address@hidden> wrote:
> 
> > Nope, you have it wrong.  Meta came from the SAIL keyboard at Stanford
> > AI Lab, developed in 1971.  This was more than a decade before Sun was
> > founded.  Of course, the Sun founders came from Stanford, so they were
> > undoubtedly familiar with this keyboard, and the diamond key was
> > presumably put there to serve the same function.  Similarly with Apple's
> > command key.
> >
> > http://www.stanford.edu/~learnest/sailaway.htm
> >
> > http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures
> > /display/1-6-RAIL-keybd.jpg
> 
> Thanks for this informative post!
> 
> Quote from the article:
> 
> «A fancier display system, installed at SAIL in 1971, put a terminal
> using a television monitor on everyone's desk. SAIL was apparently the
> first system in the world that put terminals in offices -- before
> that, the few computer displays that existed were kept in "display
> rooms." This display system also included an advanced keyboard that
> introduced the "Meta" key and other features to facilitate touch-
> typing. That keyboard design was picked up promptly by MIT and
> Carnegie-Mellon University and later by Apple, whose Command key is a
> direct descendent of the Meta key on the SAIL keyboard.»
> 
> i did a quick google image search but didn't find more photos...
> 
> is here more info about this keyboard? or other doc about the origin
> of the Meta?

I wasn't able to find much more, either.  Googling for "sail keyboard" 
mostly finds articles about bands whose song titles contain the word 
"sail".  Google needs a way for you to tell it the general topic area, 
so when you're looking for computer stuff you don't get rock & roll 
answers.

But you might want to look at the picture of the Knight keyboard, which 
was MIT's evolution of the SAIL keyboard:

http://world.std.com/~jdostale/kbd/Knight.html

and the Space Cadet keyboard that was derived from it for use on the 
Lisp Machines:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-cadet_keyboard

-- 
Barry Margolin, address@hidden
Arlington, MA
*** PLEASE post questions in newsgroups, not directly to me ***
*** PLEASE don't copy me on replies, I'll read them in the group ***


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