Pace-cadet Keyboard N. A Now-legendary Device Used On MIT LISP Machines, Which Inspired Several Still-current Jargon Terms And Influenced The Design Of EMACS.

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space-cadet keyboard n.

A now-legendary device used on MIT
LISP machines, which inspired several still-current jargon terms
and influenced the design of EMACS. It was equipped with no
fewer than seven shift keys: four keys for bucky bits
(`control', `meta', `hyper', and `super') and three like
regular shift keys, called `shift', `top', and `front'. Many
keys had three symbols on them: a letter and a symbol on the top,
and a Greek letter on the front. For example, the `L' key had an
`L' and a two-way arrow on the top, and the Greek letter lambda on
the front. By pressing this key with the right hand while playing
an appropriate `chord' with the left hand on the shift keys, you
could get the following results:

lowercase l

uppercase L

lowercase lambda

uppercase lambda

two-way arrow
(front and shift are ignored)

And of course each of these might also be typed with any
combination of the control, meta, hyper, and super keys. On this
keyboard, you could type over 8000 different characters! This
allowed the user to type very complicated mathematical text, and
also to have thousands of single-character commands at his
disposal. Many hackers were actually willing to memorize the
command meanings of that many characters if it reduced typing time
(this attitude obviously shaped the interface of EMACS). Other
hackers, however, thought having that many bucky bits was overkill,
and objected that such a keyboard can require three or four hands
to operate. See bucky bits, cokebottle,
meta bit, quadruple bucky.

Note: early versions of this entry incorrectly identified the
space-cadet keyboard with the `Knight keyboard'. Though both
were designed by Tom Knight, the latter term was properly applied
only to a keyboard used for ITS on the PDP-10 and modeled on the
Stanford keyboard (as described under bucky bits). The true
space-cadet keyboard evolved from the first Knight keyboard.