Knight keyboard

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A Novena computer being used with a Knight keyboard

The Knight keyboard, designed by Tom Knight, was used with the MIT-AI lab's bitmapped display system.[1] It was a precursor to the space-cadet keyboard and the later Symbolics keyboard.


The Knight keyboard is notable for its influence on Emacs keybindings, particularly for originating the meta key. The layout is also noteworthy: the meta key was outside the control key, which is opposite from the layout used on most modern keyboards, dating to the Model M IBM PC keyboard, which uses the Alt key instead, and places it inside the control key.[2] This results in the Emacs pinky problem when Emacs is used on modern keyboards, which map alt to meta; one solution is to use key remapping to swap the control and alt keys.[3]


  1. ^ The Knight keyboard.
  2. ^ Xah Lee. "History of Emacs & vi Keys (Keyboard Influence on Keybinding Design)".
  3. ^ Xah Lee. "How To Avoid The Emacs Pinky Problem". Retrieved 2009-11-08.

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