Keyboards have seen numerous iterations and changes over the years. From starting off as big bulky devices to turning into the compact key crunchers, we have today. But, their layout remains relatively unchanged. This begs the question, why do most keyboards still have two sets of numbers?
The upper row of numeric keys is used for adding in numbers while one is typing as they are located closer to alphabets. On the other hand, the Numpad is used exclusively for crunching in larger sets of numbers where alphabets are not needed.
However, there’s more to why Numpads exist than what meets the eye. In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why the Numpad came into being in the first place and why it is still being used to this day.
Why Do Keyboards Still Have Numpad?
A Numpad still remains an essential tool for data entry. Whenever someone is met with a larger set of numbers, a Numpad is the most convenient way to enter them. But, besides that, there are a lot more reasons as to why the Numpad has still retained its relevance.
Consumers still demand a Numpad. It is quite simple. While yes, you don’t need to crunch as many numbers as you did earlier, it still is a relevant use case for many professions such as accountants and mathematicians.
Individuals who involve themselves with any sort of numeric entry wouldn’t really feel at home with just the upper numeric keys to their aid. Therefore, the Numpad remains a staple feature in keyboards to this day.
Long before the introduction of commercial computers, calculators were used as the defacto standard for numerical entry. While they are basic computers in one way, they had an entirely different use case.
When PCs were eventually released and there were distinct advantages of processing complex numerical data on them, the keyboard – which were glorified typewriters at this time – were given a more modern look which included a Numpad.
So, customers, for multiple decades have gotten quite used to using the Numpad for numerical entry. In fact, the Numlock key is specifically designed to turn the Numpad into arrow keys so that one can move through entries.
Therefore, it still has an integral place in keyboards and has kept up its relevance since an entire generation of users has simply grown accustomed to it.
The More The Merrier
Before mechanical keyboards were mainstream, keyboards used to be built on a single PCB with all the switches soldered on the circuit. So, adding an entire Numpad didn’t really cost a lot for manufacturers.
Following that logic, since most producers assumed that customers would rather have more keys than less (especially if that didn’t lead to a price difference), almost all older keyboards did have a Numpad.
Nowadays, with switches now much more costly and the entire process of manufacturing a high-quality keyboard going through a paradigm shift, manufacturers are much less lenient on adding a Numpad unless explicitly asked to do so.
Easier To Copy
A few decades ago, not many manufacturers were explicitly creating their own circuits. In fact, most just plastered on their mold, added switches and called it a day. With that said, almost every readily available circuit had a Numpad in it.
With that said, cutting off an entire circuit or resoldering a PCB just to remove functionality that already had negligible cost to implement in the first place did not make sense. Therefore, most manufacturers just kept the Numpad and used the same mold.
Laptops Didn’t Exist
Portability wasn’t a huge factor even a decade ago. While laptops and notebooks were around, we were far off from seeing any of the fancier Ultrabooks that we’re so accustomed to seeing today. Therefore, with all that extra space on the keyboard, it made sense to add in a Numpad.
After all, what else was going to make up for all the space that remained unused? With the introduction of smaller, thinner laptops though, the Numpad was quickly scrapped first as it was being used by a very niche group of individuals rather than the general demographic.
Why Do We Have 2 Sets Of Numbers On A Keyboard?
The Numpad is used for sole numeric data entry while the upper row present on your keyboard is meant to add in numbers when typing. The two sets of numbers have the same output but are used for vastly different purposes.
Why Are There Also Numbers In The Top Row Of The Keyboard?
Using the Numpad while typing can be quite difficult as it’s hard to reach in a normal typing position. This is where the numbers on the top row come in. With them, it’s much easier to add in numbers while also typing.
Why Is The Numpad On The Right?
Most of the population is right-handed. Therefore, the Numpad is generally located on the right. Don’t worry though, lefties, there are multiple keyboards that have the Numpad to the left. You can also buy individual Numpads that can be placed in whatever position feels ergonomic.
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I work from home. To do the best possible job I need the right accessories - the right desk, the right chair, the right keyboard, the right monitor, etc. When I work I want to feel comfortable. I review everything that's related to home desk setup - focusing on Monitors & Keyboards.