In a surprise announcment yesterday, Apple Computer said that it is finally doing away with the keyboard. Apple stated that the microcomputer user has suffered too long with this awkward and inefficient input device. According to an Apple spokesperson, the technology for replacing the keyboard with only a mouse is here and the computer user is ready for it. The spokesperson said that Apple has received a steady stream of complaints over the years about the need to constantly move the hands between the Mac keyboard and mouse. "The solution was obvious - do away with the keyboard completely."
Acknowledging that there are still a few Mac applications that depend on textual input in addition to graphical manipulation, Apple said the poor people stuck with such outdated technology have not been forgotten. They are introducing the Spinning Alphabet Wheel (SAW) to replace the keyboard. The SAW is a screen display object consisting of concentric circular strips showing all of the characters which normally appear on the keyboard. The wheel rotates continuously under character selector windows. The user selects a character by placing the mouse pointer in the appropriate window at the same time as the desired character is about the appear. "...and, ta-da, the selected character appears on the screen just as though it had been typed on an old fashioned keyboard."
"This is a marvelous new technology with plenty of room for growth." said the spokesperson. "For example, the user can configure separate wheels for vowels vs. the consonants. Or, digits can be placed on their own special low speed wheel. "We have conceptualized the keyboard as a big, bulky menu selection device and replaced it with dynamic display menus instead. Apple will eventually replace all menus with their new Rotating Wheel Technology (RWT)."
When asked why the wheels have to rotate, the spokesperson said that Apple's engineers had considered using conventional "point-and- click" technology for the wheel. "However," the Apple spokesperson said, "we feel that this type of operation is too complicated for the typical Mac user. So, we have done away with the mouse button too. It is still hard for us to believe that the IBM world has stepped backwards in technology by providing two or more buttons to confuse the user. The IBM compatible sector, apparently, has not yet recognized that 95% of computer usage is devoted to experimenting with different fonts and character styles in documents"
Asked if this new technology would reduce the price of the typical Mac computer, the spokesperson countered that it would probably increase the price of the Mac. "After all, display space is already scarce on the current screen. We will now deliver Macs with two screens - one for the normal display and a larger one for the multitude of rotating wheels the user needs to access." Apple said that the user who is confused by complicated devices such as keyboards and mouse buttons will gladly pay a premium to avoid them. "In fact, the easily-confused user is our best customer." replied the spokesperson. "Not only are we doing away with the pesky keyboard, but we are also giving them something they have demanded for a long time - more screen space. This is definitely a win-win situation."
Beta testers of the new technology were impressed by its ease of use, but said there are still some minor problems to work out. For example, one tester left his machine unattended with the uppercase character wheel spinning at medium speed. While he was away somebody must have jarred his desk, moving the mouse pointer into the selector window. When he got back he found that his Word document now had one huge paragraph consisting of all of the characters of the uppercase alphabet repeated 2,539,987 times. "At first glance, this appeared to be a big problem. But, I formatted the new paragraph with 33 different fonts and 11 different type styles and it looked great. I hope that Apple fixes this problem before they release it, because these accidents can greatly increase the time spent formatting documents."