Keyboards? How did it start?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by K5TSK, Oct 29, 2019.

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  1. K5TSK

    K5TSK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't seek them out like I did earlier this year, but I still run across some FB keyboard rag-chewing without really looking. I've never tried to use one, but right now, I'm wondering. How did those things get their start in ham radio. Crossover from teletype?
    Idle curiosity, but I've not seen this addressed lately. Who dun it?
  2. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

  3. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Here is the earliest QST articles:

    JUN 1961 - QST (PG. 40)
    Keyboard-Controlled CW Station

    Author: Nelson, John, W6EAR
    Article: QST Archive [PDF]

    JAN 1970 - QST (PG. 43)
    Shielded Leads in the Touchcoder II Keyboard Keyer
    (Technical Correspondence)

    Author: Lorenzen, Howard, W3BLC
    Article: QST Archive [PDF]
    K0UO, WB5YUZ, K1LKP and 1 other person like this.
  4. K5TSK

    K5TSK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    WOW! My internet balked on me, but got to see several pics on Carmen's first provided link. This will get me going when the net comes back. I'll log in to QST and check that out.
    Thanks guys. not really a typist, but after reading these articles, I may get up the nerve to plug in my K44. Bought it solely for code practice. Always something new to learn in this hobby!!
    K1LKP likes this.
  5. K5TSK

    K5TSK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Carmen. Definitely agree i'm an ole rascal. Not sure about the cw part.

    KA0HCP, You opened my eyes to something I should have already known about, which is the Search feature on past QSTs on ARRL. I put in 'keyboards' and got multiple links back and the oldest I saw was a multi-tube monster from 1951. The author of that project commented on the need for better quality code on the amateur bands. So I guess less than perfect fists go back a ways. Thanks a bunch. This feature you enlightened me to will be of service in the future.
    K1LKP likes this.
  6. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I remember the HAL, and the Heathkit 8999.
    K0UO and K5TSK like this.
  7. K5TSK

    K5TSK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The current keyboard (K44) for cw code is the first I've ever owned and have yet to QSO with it. I remember hearing the keyboards years ago and lots of really fast stuff. I suspect the number of higher speed ragchew guys was much greater in the past, or else I just haven't run across that many lately. Was it a solution to having a means to send at the speed that folks could easily copy?? Can't believe it was all about perfect code.
  8. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Commodore 64 and Hamtext was the bomb. :)
    K5TSK likes this.
  9. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, but I still hear them once or twice a week on 40m CW. Listen on frequencies where the FOC types hang out.

    When I first got my Novice ticket and heard guys going 60 WPM I didn't realize it was relatively new phenomenon for so many OPS to be doing it; widespread ability to send that fast came in with those early microprocessor-driven keyboards.

    Although before keyboards there were always people like this lady, Mrs. Eileen Kline, K0ILM of Ft. Madison, Iowa, who used to use the early paddle key shown in this photo to send at 60 WPM, which she could also follow (photo credit Bob Herzberg, K4JBI (SK)):

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
    K5TSK and K1LKP like this.
  10. K5TSK

    K5TSK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks Don and Dan AND Carmen.

    At times this last couple years, while hearing one of those rip-snorting high-balling conversations on 3541, 7019, etc., I would gladly have surrendered my upper plate dentures for a CFO #. Not for the number and not for the membership (cause I'm not worthy), but for what that number would mean. I know 'we' as a group of cw guys and gals used to be able to do that stuff. Did we just get too old?
    Fingers just too stiff?

    I read about guys on here who want to learn the code and what key to use, not to use, etc. Seems like we are missing something by not considering some of the modern avenues to machine sent code. It would take a little doing. I know for a fact, I would be aggravated to know the guy I'm conversing with, had to get a machine to decode what I sent, BUT that might be better in order to re-build a good population of higher speed guys, gals who would get to enjoy what seems to be missing now. Must be gaggles of newer hams out there who can type as fast as some of you guys can copy. Faster than I ever will.

    One of these days I'm going to fade out, and it's past due. When that happens, I hope the last thing I hear will be a group of fast-talking guys, gals having a blast doing code at a high speed whine.

    You guys can still make it happen.
    N7BKV likes this.

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