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Ask Slashdot: Calculators With 1-2-3 Number Pads? 393

dotancohen writes "Although the telephone has the 1-2-3 key on the top row, most calculators and keyboards have 7-8-9 on the top row. Switching between the two destroys muscle- and spatial- memory. Do any slashdotters use a scientific calculator with 1-2-3 on the top row? I've already scraped and resoldered my Casio fx-82 calculator to have 1-2-3 on the top, and remapped the numpad in Kubuntu, but if there exist any calculators like this already on the market, I'd buy two."
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Ask Slashdot: Calculators With 1-2-3 Number Pads?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:30PM (#37502804)


    • Don't blame the person who submitted the question.

      Blame the person who posted it.

      Or blame no-one and JFGI [].

      • OCD Much? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thechemic ( 1329333 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @03:20PM (#37503652)
        So if it "destroys muscle- and spatial- memory" as you say, that means that everytime you wanted to use your phone you would have to sit down in a chair, find a horizontal flat surface to lay your phone on and then dial with 3 fingers? Or do you do it the other way around? Everytime you want to use a numeric keypad on a keyboard you have to pick up the keyboard off the desk and double-thumb the numbers in? I have GOT to see this in action!
        • by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @04:03PM (#37503936) Homepage Journal
          For non-fixed telephones, you hold the handset in one hand and touch the keys with the other hand. And of course you use three fingers. Seriously, you dial a telephone with your thumb? Do you type with your toes, too?
        • Re:OCD goes wrong? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Saturday September 24, 2011 @04:13PM (#37504020) Homepage Journal

          Wow, submitter is doing it wrong. It has got to be *much* easier to change phone dialpads than computer/calculator dialpads.

          • speed dial
          • smartphones have software dial pads (there must be an app for that, or hack the build in dial pad in the ROM)
          • smartphones can copy & paste phone numbers
          • google voice can connect your call from the PC, etc, so you never have to dial
          • OCR of a picture of a written phone number & autodial (pretty sure there's an app or three for that as well)

          The random public phone you encounter would be slow, but how often does that happen? I mean, maybe a little more often than when you're forced to use someone else's calculator (like, say, during an engineering exam?) but still...

        • by Chapter80 ( 926879 ) on Sunday September 25, 2011 @03:42AM (#37506688)

          I learned to tell time at a much younger age then I learned how to use a phone or a calculator. And so I learned that numbers are arranged in a circle, with 1 just to the right of the top most point, 3 straight across to the right, 6 at the bottom, and 9 to the left.

          Clearly the correct layout for a numeric keypad should reflect this!

          Using mod 10 (or, looking at the last digit), the correct layout to match clocks would look something like this:

          X 2 X
          9 X 3
          X 6 X

          with the extra key going on the bottom somewhere. Filling in the corner numbers, rounding down, it should look like this:

          0 2 1
          9 X 3
          7 6 4

          The middle of a clock often has a couple of circles on an axle - one for the hour hand and one for the minute hand, so it probably makes sense to put the number 8 in the middle (which also has two circles). This leaves 5 for the extra key, and a final configuration of:

          0 2 1
          9 8 3
          7 6 4
          - 5 -

          Does anybody know where I can get calculators and phones that match this obviously superior design?

          -D. Vorak

    • by icebike ( 68054 )

      LOL, The last person I heard complaining about this issue was a 029 keypunch operator. []

      • You know... I think I've actually used one of those, or something very similar, way back in 1982 or so in a college FORTRAN class. I remember the type/punch sounds, drawing diagonal lines across the side of card stacks and... Jesus, I'm old - sigh.
        • Oh, the new model keypunch! I used one of those in college in the mid-70s, but I learned keypunching on a Model 026, running a Boy Scout mailing list in ~1971. So no, you're not close to old...

    • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:29PM (#37503286) Homepage

      Since the whole thread has gone into ridicule, let me defend myself (OP):
      I use Anki [] to learn and memorize facts. When memorizing phone numbers and the like, I type them in so that Anki can check my answer. Then when I get to the phone I find that my muscle-memory is not only useless, it is actually a hindrance.

      I have no problem operating either type of device, but the dichotomy puts up barriers where there could be bridges. When you need to remember a phone number, do you not mentally punch it into an imaginary phone? That spatial-memory device won't work if you sometimes type the number on a 1-2-3 keypad and other times on a 7-8-9 keypad.

      I know that there are those of us who like to learn, and therefore use efficient memory techniques, and that there are those who ridicule those of us who learn. On a website for geeks, I had expected to find the former, not the latter.

      • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:33PM (#37503316)

        Another post covered this material, but you should realize that geeks hate spatial memory and systems that use spatial memory. This is the community that embraces vi and hated Classic Mac OS... do the math.

        • by gknoy ( 899301 )

          Some geeks dislike spatial memory, but on the other hand how else would you describe understanding the "shape" of a program, or the way it fits together? I'm sure some geeks DO leverage spatial memory.

      • So just pry the keycaps off your keyboard and remap the keys to have 1-2-3 at the top, problem solved.

        I know that there are those of us who like to learn, and therefore use efficient memory techniques, and that there are those who ridicule those of us who learn. On a website for geeks, I had expected to find the former, not the latter.

        You must be new here ... or you never read slashdot on Troll Tuesday [tt]

      • by gknoy ( 899301 ) <> on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:50PM (#37503456)

        You have an interesting question there. I don't consciously imagine punching in a phone number, but as I do it my muscle memory helps me know when I've done it wrong. (Thanks for the link to Anki, also.) However, I almost never need to type in phone numbers on a computer, and it sounds like the only reason you do is so that you can use the memory aid tools. Do you do a lot of work with calculators? The way I type in numbers on a phone is normally with my thumbs, rather than my fingers, so it's (for me) a very different mental task than keying in on a keyboard. I don't think I'd have much overlap between the memory of typing numbers on my phone versus typing them on a keyboard.

        A sibling commenter mentioned that they are terrible at remembering phone numbers. I am too -- that's why I use a tool to remember them for me. Why do you find yourself caring whether you have it in your head versus in the phone's memory?

      • I know that there are those of us who like to learn, and therefore use efficient memory techniques, and that there are those who ridicule those of us who learn. On a website for geeks, I had expected to find the former, not the latter.

        Even on a site for geeks you have to understand the signal to noise ratio is not wonderful. There certainly are actual geeks and nerds here who appreciate mnemonic techniques and sympathize with your desire for prefab technology to make those techniques easier. I read your post and thought, "huh, interesting, but I don't know of any off the shelf calculators with that arrangement." Then I kept my mouth shut and moved on until I had something to say.

        Ignore the idiots and the haters and chalk the lack of us

      • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @03:20PM (#37503658)

        I rarely call people on my calculator.

        • 37 years ago I worked on a project to integrate a phone and a calculator. Stupid idea, it would have been easiest with 1974 technology just to glue a calculator on the side of the phone. But the boss wanted just one keyboard, and using the phone keyboard was slightly cheaper than using the calculator keyboard. So people would calculate on their phone, not call on their calculator. Time marches on.
      • by gcalvin ( 325380 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @03:39PM (#37503742) Homepage

        Who memorizes phone numbers anymore? Twenty years ago, I probably knew 100 phone numbers, and now I know maybe 10. My phone knows the numbers of the people I call, not me.

        The calculator layout is much more important in terms of spatial memory than the phone layout. Data entry operators and spreadsheet power users have been using the 10-key format for many decades. If you need to make a change, make it on the phone, not on the calculator.

      • by Spudley ( 171066 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @04:07PM (#37503982) Homepage Journal

        There are good reasons for the two layouts. They're lost in the mist of time, but they are good reasons.

        Calculators derive their layout from a strictly mathematical perspective, and is probably the most sensible layout to work with if you want to practice your muscle memory.

        The phone layout is that way due to the mapping of letters to the digits, which was defined back in the days of rotary dial phones. Putting the 'ABC' key at the top of the keypad made it easier to read. In addition, the in old pulse-dial system, the zero digit actually represented ten, not zero, and on rotary dials it was placed at the end after nine. That also helped to make the chosen key layout for phones seem more logical at the time, both for the phone manufacturers and for users who were used to rotary dials.

        One thing you certainly aren't going to achieve is to get calculator or phone manufacturers to change their layouts. Both layouts are highly ingrained in the collective consciousness of their users, and no-one is going to buy a product which deviates from the norm. You may as well try to persuade everyone to go and buy a Dvorak keyboard.

        So the short answer to your plea is: no. It ain't gonna happen.

        But I can see hope for you: Smart phones.

        While you aren't going to get calculators to change, smart phones have touch screen interfaces. I don't see any reason at all why there couldn't be an app that displays the phone keypad in calculator-like style. It may be the opposite of what you're asking for, but it would achieve the consistency that you're looking for between the two.

        The only problem then is if you ever have to use someone else's phone to make a call....

    • I'd say the telephone pad is "upside down".

      The "10 key" layout has been a standard for number crunching for ages. It's more efficient to have the low numbers on the bottom because they are statistically used more often, speeding up input.

  • Really?? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:30PM (#37502806)

    Really? It's that hard to switch between number pads on calculators and phones? That's what you're posting to slashdot?

    Have you considered getting out more often?

    • Re:Really?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:47PM (#37502972)

      While I don't enjoy it, I switch between my own home dvorak and qwerty at clients multiple times a week. It look a lot to get used to... but I did with a lot of stumbles on the way. I can understand the frustration, I guess, but I'd just stick with the calculator numpad. Dialing phone numbers is largely on the way out, isn't it?

      • Agreed, I was just going to say the same thing because I use Dvorak and Qwerty layouts, but add something else. What's wrong for the brain to learn both layouts?

        • by Twinbee ( 767046 )

          You can answer that question yourself if you ask "What's wrong with the brain having to learn 1000 layouts". Even our flexible neurons have limits, and at least some people value their time too.

    • ...and why are you dialing a phone so much that it ruins muscle and spatial memory? Having a preference for an upside-down number pad is fine of course, but this is the part I don't understand. Maybe look into "speed dial," or one o' them fancy new mobile phones with voice dialing, and switch fulltime to the qwerty style that is everywhere? Or maybe Zyprexa or Abilify is the answer. Seems like a lot of thought and effort for a non-problem.
      • I work for ma bell, and frequently have to call enough different numbers that there's no point in putting it in speed dial (some of which only ever get called once). That said, while I do have muscle memory for the dialling, there's a really easy solution that I'm surprised that the submitter hadn't considered:

        Use your left hand to dial a phone, your right hand to use a calculator/numpad. *gasp* different set of muscles, different muscle memory. That's assuming you're actually in a situation where you could

    • Have you considered getting out more often?

      Or less often.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    When ATT went to push button phones, they intentionally put the numbers backwards from 10 key adding machines everyone used back then. Then didn't want the fast typers to outpace their new phone system and punch the numbers in to fast.

    • ^ mod up informative
      • by icebike ( 68054 )

        Mod down as nonsense.
        Pushbuttons didn't arrive until they had digital switching which was fully capable of buffering even into the old crossbar switches.

        • by GerryHattrick ( 1037764 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:13PM (#37503178)
          I have a fully mechanical pushbutton dialler, that outputs pulse codes just like an old (UK) rotary. You can hit the buttons at any speed, but must then wait while it does it all inside using the energy from keypresses. Still works here.
    • When ATT went to push button phones, they intentionally put the numbers backwards from 10 key adding machines everyone used back then. Then didn't want the fast typers to outpace their new phone system and punch the numbers in to fast.

      I doubt it. *MY* unverified explanation that I remember hearing somewhere is: They put the one in the upper left to make it more similar to the familiar rotary dial, where the numbers increase clockwise starting from upper left.

      Anyway, is there a calculator on the market that has a phone-style rotary dial? Now that's something I might buy.

    • by Nethead ( 1563 ) <> on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:02PM (#37503106) Homepage Journal

      Not true: []

      On a side note, back in my teens, I would make $5 for swapping the top and third rows of buttons on a standard WECO 25xx phone so that they matched an adding machine. The ladies in the office loved it.

    • by koala_dude ( 1104777 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:22PM (#37503234)

      My understanding is that Bell Labs tested a number of layouts before settling on the 1-2-3 matrix we use now as being simplest to master (see R. L. Deininger, Human Factors Engineering Studies of the Design and Use of Pushhutton Telephone Sets [], 1960, Bell System Technical Journal [PDF]).

      I'm not sure if calculator / comptometer manufacturers had their competing studies; I've heard that when Bell asked for an explanation, the answer was a shrug...comptometers were about 80 years by then, so I think the origins of their layout are as opaque and full of folk explanations as the QWERTY layout.

      Regardless, I've encountered OP's request before...but for phone layouts which matched calculator layouts. I was working in an operations office a few years ago run by a person who was a fan of "Cheaper by the Dozen" who wanted to optimize our phone dialing speed (this was a fun place to work, even if this request sounds odd). We didn't have any success, but it was an interesting thought.

      • Some time back in the mid-80s we had a session at a symposium at Bell Labs on "The Question that Just Won't Die - Where to put the Q and the Z". TouchTone(tm) was pretty much universal by then, and phone-type number pads were showing up on cash machines, and there were starting to be all sorts of input systems for text on the pads. The problem is that it's really arbitrary and none of the answers are perfect, and also it's a simple enough question that everybody knows enough to comment on it.

        The two most

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:33PM (#37502840)

    ...given that I use keyboards more frequently than telephone number pads.

    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      Are you nuts!? I'd have to change my TV remote if I do that!
    • by ejtttje ( 673126 )
      Seriously, I don't even use the telephone number pad when making phone calls, even basic phones have address books built-in.
      • People still use land-lines without so much as caller-ID for backup phones, for odd locations, for apartment phones (in buildings not rigged to use cell-phones) and in a few other contexts.

  • by hxnwix ( 652290 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:33PM (#37502842) Journal

    Then the muscle memories for each should be well compartmentalized such that you may switch between the two with high competency in either layout.

  • by msauve ( 701917 )
    So, you're the guy who keeps making wrong number calls to my phone, because you're trying to touch-type telephone numbers.
  • by JustOK ( 667959 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:36PM (#37502880) Journal

    Did you mean 2 or 8 ?

  • Switching doesn't destroy muscle or spacial memory. The problem is simply of increasing the amount of memory used.

    Considering that numpads get longer use, and millions of people are very fast on them already, that is the correct mapping to use, not the telephone. The telephone is usually only used for 10 keypresses at a time when used for the numbers.

    As for phones, on modern smart phones you can just swap them in software.

    You can also use voice dialing to help avoid spending memory on the physical dialing.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

    Sounds like you are calling far too many people to have time to be doing calculations.

    • Sounds like you are calling far too many people to have time to be doing calculations.

      Calling too many people without the use of an automated directory of some sort (of which there are many many available). I mean hell, are you sitting there with a paper phone book just calling people for shits?

  • Get a smart phone (Score:4, Insightful)

    by steveha ( 103154 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:38PM (#37502906) Homepage

    Get an Android smart phone and write some custom Android software.

    Either customize a scientific calculator program to match the phone dialing keypad, or write your own phone dialing software with a calculator keypad.

    Plus there is the option of calling your friends from your address book and not even dialing the phone, or using Google Voice Search and just saying the digits.

    I don't know what to tell you about lock keypads, public phone keypads, and the like. Just avoid them I guess? (Where I work, I can't use a bathroom without using a phone-style keypad.)

    I agree with you that the incompatibility is annoying. I never bothered to do anything about it; I just adapt. But if you want to make your own custom solution, that doesn't seem sillier to me than the people who insist on using Dvorak keyboards or whatever.


    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      I don't use a scientific calculator anymore, I use Wolfram Alpha. Pretty much anything you want to do a scientific calculator plus all the stuff that you can't do on many calculators simply because the College Board says that a useful calculator cannot be used on their tests.

      So I pay for Wolfram Alpha on my iPhone and do everything that I used to do on my HP is about half the time.

  • by makubesu ( 1910402 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:39PM (#37502908)
    Although the telephone has a rotary dial for dialing numbers, most calculators and keyboards have button pads. Switching between the two destroys muscle- and spatial- memory, as well as ability to use commas. Do any slashdoters use a scientific calculator with a rotary dial on it? I've already scraped and resoldered my Casio fx-9000 calculator to have a rotor, and plugged a USB rotor phone into Gentoo, but if there exists any calculators like this already on the market, I'd buy three.
    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      Although the telephone has a rotary dial for dialing numbers, most calculators and keyboards have button pads. Switching between the two destroys muscle- and spatial- memory, as well as ability to use commas. Do any slashdoters use a scientific calculator with a rotary dial on it? I've already scraped and resoldered my Casio fx-9000 calculator to have a rotor, and plugged a USB rotor phone into Gentoo, but if there exists any calculators like this already on the market, I'd buy three.

      I'm looking for a car with a wheel to turn to put on the breaks and a string pull horn. Switching from a steam locomotive to an Audi destroys muscle- and spatial- memory

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "Switching from a steam locomotive to an Audi destroys muscle- and spatial- memory"

        Witness the unintended acceleration associated with the Audi 5000. Casey Jones, you better watch your speed.
  • Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:39PM (#37502912)

    You don't dial a phone with the same fingers you punch a calculator with. At least, not if you're a touch-typist. And if you aren't, why would you worry about this in the first place?

    I learned the 10-key calculator in middle school and have never, ever had a problem with the fact that some keypads are upside-down from the standard 10-key layout.

    This is seriously a non-issue in every regard.

  • Telephones and calculators (well, adding machines) have opposite layouts for a reason: slowing down the key presses on your phone. Try dialing a long number (like an account number) into automated phone tree on a phone quickly: a good cell phone will 'cache' the numbers and send out the DTMF sounds more slowly than your rapid keypresses. On a landline dialing too fast will often result in errors since they usually lack this feature.

    You can read more about Bell/Western Electric's development of the teleph []
  • I think I'd rather remap my phone's keypad to have 7-8-9 on the top. Especially since so many phones now have the keypad on a touchscreen, where it all can be done in software.

  • Switching between the two destroys muscle- and spatial- memory.

    No, it doesn't. I can type with either very quickly without looking at what I'm doing. The brain is a wonderful thing.

    • Easy for most of us, I discovered recently I even retain the muscle memory for rotary phones too; but the story poster must be an idiot-savant who somehow has the gift of remapping keys.
  • Have you considered holding you hands slightly different between the keypads? For example I touch type 7-8-9 number pads like it was a normal keyboard with the hand normal hovering over the home row centered on the five. Where as with 1-2-3 keypads I normally type those using my thumbs. This allows me to have two different special memory patterns that I can switch between and use without thinking about it. I actually do something similar with Dvorak vs Qwerty keyboards. Depending on how I hold my hands near the keyboard a different set of spacial memory is triggered. I still occasionally while type using the wrong style but then notice that I was holding my hands wrong and instantly switch without having to really think about the differences between the layouts. I use a more normal home position for Dvorak and angle my hands slightly more for qwerty. Urp .qamln. cu C abin. mf dabeo gl nct. ydco C yfl. ',.pyf and now with my hands back to the other position I switch back to Dvorak. ( I had to tweak the previous since auto-correct messed up angle to "a bin." instead of "abin.". I was surprised it didn't change more of it. )

  • by Any Web Loco ( 555458 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:47PM (#37502970) Homepage
    F***ing Google it. Seriously - is this what Ask Slashdot's become?
  • Why use keypads?

    I've learned to do verbal calculations with my Android phone. Just say the calculation you want into voice search and Google will return the results. There is no need to carry both a phone and a calculator, and speaking the formula is much easier than trying to use a miniature calculator keyboard.

  • Being as everything important that I use has the 7-8-9 on top, with the exception of the phone, I figured the phone had it wrong. And considering how seldom anyone touch dials anymore, the phone being the odd one out seems less relevant all the time.

    Really, when was the last time you dialed something on your phone by its number? Every number I call often on my phone is in the memory of my phone, so I'm dialing by name. The memory of my phone far exceeds the total number of people and places I have an
  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @01:51PM (#37503012) Homepage Journal

    This is the wrong question to ask geeks. They have no muscle or spatial memory, and don't care whether anyone else does.

    Or haven't you noticed?

    Across all of your free/OSS software:

    1) What keys do you type to search for text?
    2) What keys do you type to activate File->Save?
    2a) Is File->Save greyed out if there are no changes?
    3) When you hit shift-ctrl-end-del, does this take out the trailing CR/LF or not?
    4) Where are the preferences - under "File", "Help", "Document", "Edit", "Tools"?
    5) Are the preferences called "preferences", "options", "settings"?
    6) Using the debugger - which F keys activate step-in/step-out/step-over?
    7) When you click in a text box, does it insert the cursor or select the entire line?

    Geeks care not one whit about compatibility. They make their interfaces by what "seems" right at the time, with no regard for the greater universe of programs in the world.

    Good luck with your answer. Maybe you can create your own calculator online.

    • VIM!

      1) : /
      2) : w
      2a) Everything is grey!
      3) d $
      4) .vimrc
      5) Good question.
      6) Good point.
      7) What is this "click" you speak of?

      You make a good point about FOSS. The lack of standardization is a headache and led me to just write everything I can in Vim.
      However I think the issue has more to do with the users than the programers. Geeks tend to learn everything about the programs they use, and this can be a serious time investment. It would take a very long to become as proficient in program B af

      • That's a fair point. Geeks aren't intimidated by learning a completely new paradigm.

        That's one reason that older folks have such a hard time with newer systems - they have to learn something new every time. It would be nice if there were some type of "conceptual consistency" across applications; so that, for instance, burning a CD-ROM would involve conceptually the same actions across all programs.

        The poster specifically called out muscle memory, which has always been a big headache for me. My system has a

  • Make a phone pad like the number line on the top of my keyboard... all digits straight in a row... duh!

  • by bLanark ( 123342 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:00PM (#37503096)

    I am rich with mod points, but almost every comment is bang on the nose - I can't seperate them. Consider yourself +1 insightful, if you posted.

    (I used to struggle a bit with this myself, 20 years ago, but these days I hardly ever dial a number. The PC layout is what I like now. )

  • I understand your problem.

    But only because the GF has a phone with a calculator style keyboard, it confuses me every time!
  • Gimme a break (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:13PM (#37503180) Homepage

    It is not difficult to "rememberize" 10-key layout versus reverse 10-key. This "feat" is well within the capabilities of subhumans who live in flyover territory, much less elite geeks who can get their questions approved on I had no problem with it myself, back when I worked for a phone company and had to switch back and forth between the IBM-PC 10-key pad and the telephone reverse 10-key. The mouthbreathers I worked with picked it up after a few weeks.

    Actually, now that I think about it, what's the big deal? Any uber-geek should be able to adjust to these circumstances quite quickly. And honestly: times aren't like they were years ago when I had to dial 50 phone numbers per day, and enter 50 results into the computer. Who the hell, in this day and age, sits down next to a "push-button" landline telephone and keys in the numbers for his friends? We all use mobile phones these days, it's all in the phone book. In the last...five, ten years? I've had to use my 31337 ten-key skillz times. When you meet a new person, you just punch in their number once: either by soft keyboard (iPhone) or by 1234567890 above qwertyuiop (one of those old-fashioned "blackberry" phones).

    Oh, I think I see. On the submitter's web page [], we can see the following bit of sublime insight:

    Why are the lights in microwave ovens inconsistent with the lights in refrigerators? The light in the refrigerator is on when the door is open, and supposedly off when the door is shut. The light in the microwave is on when the door is shut, and off when the door is open.

    Yeah, he's an idiot.

  • I'm can't tell if this is a dumb idea or a brilliant one. What about training yourself to type phone numbers with your left hand? It might be just enough to segregate out the muscle memory. It would be moderately annoying while you're training yourself, but if you're re-wiring calculators and remapping keyboards it can't be much more troublesome.

    Unfortunately I don't use either kind of numpad much myself so I can't try it - I would just to see if it works.

  • by guardiangod ( 880192 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @02:17PM (#37503212) []

    The story begins back in pre-calculator days, when there were cash registers. We're not talking cash registers that scan, but mechanical things where you actually had to push the keys hard to punch numbers. The cash registers were designed with 0 at the bottom, and the numbers going up. Why did cash registers choose this organization? I was unable to find any clear answer. These were the days before customer surveys and mass marketing opinion polls. The people who designed cash registers evidently just thought it was the obvious approach--lowest numbers at the bottom, highest numbers at the top.

    In fact, the earliest cash registers had multiple keys. You didn't enter 7 and 9 and 5 for $7.95; there was a separate column of keys for each decimal place. Think of a matrix, with the bottom row of 0's, next a row of 1's, then a row of 2's, going up. The right hand column would represent single units (cents), the next column for tens, then hundreds, etc. So, to enter $7.95, you'd actually enter 700, then 90, then 5.

    When calculators made their appearance, they copied the cash register format. In fact, some of the earliest mechanical calculators (ah, how my wife loved her Friden!) had multiple columns, like the cash register. The earliest calculators had keypads that were ten rows high and generally 8 or 9 columns across.

    When hand-held and electronic calculators made their appearance, they copied the keypad arrangement of the existing calculators--0 at the bottom, 1-2-3 in the next row, 4-5-6 in the next row, and 7-8-9 in the top row, from left to right. So, basically, they evolved from the cash register.

    The Touch-Tone phone emerged in the early 1960s. Before that, there were rotary dials, with the numbers starting at 1 at the top right and then running counterclockwise around the dial to 8-9-0 across the bottom. Why would "0" be on the bottom? Probably because the dialing mechanism was pulse, not tone. Since they couldn't do zero pulses for 0, they did ten pulses, and hence put the 0 at the end. (Thanks to Radu Serban for this suggestion.)

    There seem to be three reasons that the Touch-Tone phone keypad was designed as it was:

    (1) Tradition. People were used to dialing with 1-2-3 on top, and it seemed reasonable to keep it that way.

    (2) AT&T (the only phone company at the time) did some research that concluded there were fewer dialing errors with the 1-2-3 on top (possibly related to the traditional rotary dial layout).

    (3) Phone numbers years ago used alphabetic prefixes for the exchange (BUtterfield 8, etc.). In the days of rotary dials, no doubt it seemed logical to put the letters in alphabetical order, and to associate them with numbers in numerical order. The number 1 was set aside for "flag" functions, so ABC went with 2, DEF with 3, and so on. When Touch-Tone phones came in, keeping the alphabet in alphabetical order meant putting 1-2-3 at the top.

    So there we have it. Basically, calculator keypad design evolved from cash registers, while telephone keypad design evolved from the rotary dial. Tradition has kept them that way ever since.

    • This is not the whole story. I know that at least in Sweden a different rotary phone system was used. With the numbers the other way around or something like that. Memories are from 25+ years ago, so a bit hazy, but I definitely remember being baffled the first time I had to use a Swedish phone.

      I also know that early "Adding machines", before cash registers, also used the lowest at the bottom layout. I think it was mechanically easier to build. I still have a 100 year old one here, once used by my grandfath

  • Rather than adapting every device you touch, maybe you should look at why you need to do this.

    In fact, you've decided that the telephone way is "right" and that every computer keyboard is "wrong". Since you only interact with a couple of phones, probably, might it not be easier to change them than it is to change every computer, TI calculator, keypad, etc? Shouldn't be too hard to write an "inverted dialer" app for whatever phone you have.

    I fly on a numeric keypad, I can also dial my phone fast. Th
  • Seriously, you should be able to learn to handle the difference between small push buttons on a phone (at an angle that PC keyboards don't use) and keypad buttons on a keyboard. Also, why would you need to be doing enough on a phone keypad to make that an issue? If you're doing telemarketing calls or the like you shouldn't be using a plain phone, use software.

    In general, this goes beyond a waste of time into the level of trolling.
  • to is a telemarketer or collections agent, and one that doesn't have an automated dialing system at that. So clearly the solution to damaged muscle memory is to grab a wire coat hanger, bend it in half till it breaks, then place each piece (while holding them) into the two vertical slots on an electrical outlet. Careful though, this can damage any equipment on the circuit so I would suggest unplugging your clothes drier or stove and using one of those since the circuit is isolated. This will help stimula
  • Let's do some simple math. From your description, you've got one phone, one computer and one calculator. Two of those devices use the same number layout - the calc and the comp. So wouldn't it be more logical to change the one device (the phone), not the other two? I can't speak from experience, but I imagine it wouldn't be hard to do on an Android phone, and you've already shown a willingness to do minor soldering if necessary.

    In any case, I don't think muscle memory is really an issue. When typing on a co

  • Buy yourself a rotary phone - problem solved.

    Oh, and you may have to build another intermediate device that converts the click/pulses to duo-tones.

    Or, better yet - build an intermediate device that converts the pulses and analog audio signal to IP, hook it up to your cable modem and cancel your phone service. Call it an "Internet Telephone" - you'll make millions. Be sure you're first to file though.

  • More important than the orientation of the keypad is a calculator that takes full advantage of a keyboard and full-size screen.

    It turns out >99.9% of PC calculators don't feature a full multi-line notepad/scratchpad style, or on-the-fly 'answer-as-you-type' functionality. A bit like the amazing Soulver on the Mac actually, which was the only calc so far to realize that traditional paper-roll calcs are doing it all wrong.

    Hence the inevitable quick shameless plug for my 'OpalCalc' calculator which I only j

  • The problem I have with calculators is not being able to find the ENTER key

  • by Ambiguous Coward ( 205751 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @03:48PM (#37503826) Homepage

    This notion of not destroying muscle memory through similar but opposite motions is really important!

    For instance, I often turn right with my car. Doing so involves turning the steering wheel clockwise until the car is going the direction I want. However, I often have to turn left, and doing so involves a motion that is precisely the opposite of turning right.

    Dear Slashdot: is there a car that will allow me to turn both right and left by only turning the steering wheel to the right? Alternately, a car that turns right from a counter-clockwise turn of the wheel, and then I'll just use whichever car is appropriate for the turning I will be making, such that I am only ever turning the wheel in one direction. Either solution would be fine: I'm a pretty flexible guy.


  • by kst ( 168867 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @06:41PM (#37504860)

    Why do so many people object so vehemently to the question?

    I personally don't have much trouble with the difference between calculator and telephone keypads; I can switch between them without much mental effort. (I can also switch between vi and emacs, and between bash and tcsh.)

    But on every system I use, one of the first things I do is figure out how to remap the caps-lock key so it acts as a control key. In decades of effort, I've never gotten used to having the control key in a position other than immediately to the left of 'A'. If it works for most people, that's terrific, but it doesn't work for me.

    But the OP does have a problem with it. The "destroys muscle- and spatial- memory" part seems exaggerated, but it may well be accurate *for the person asking the question*.

    Different people have different mental models and usage patterns. Devices and software are supposed to be designed for users, not the other way around.

    It's not a stupid question at all.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll