Tsundoku Keyboard

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A series of keyboards designed and built by tsundoku. As of August 2020, one JIS prototype exists.

Intended Use

The Tsundoku Keyboard is intended for a range of GUI environments that follow the general principles established by the Apple Macintosh. This broadly includes:

  • Mac OS
  • BeOS and Haiku
  • tsundoku's custom X11 environment

Layout Variations

JIS Layout (with both IME keys)
ANSI Layout

The design concept is layout-agnostic, but was originally envisioned as a JIS keyboard.


  • View on Keyboard Layout Editor
  • 3.5U spacebar
    • Not known to be available anywhere currently
    • Existing builds make compromises with IME keys to use available spacebars
      • Model 1 omits the 英数 key to accomodate a 4.5U spacebar
  • Two 1U keys for input method mode control
  • Nearly identical the Macway TP-110JIS


  • 5.5U spacebar
    • Uncommon but available
  • Sun "UNIX Keyboard" layout

Prior Art

The keyboard design mostly derives from Apple layouts of the 1980s through the mid-1990s, before the AppleDesign keyboard made Apple's variant of the IBM AT Enhanced layout a de facto standard on the Mac platform.

  • Apple Desktop Bus Keyboard and Apple Keyboard (M0116)
    • Main bank with dedicated number pad
    • Arrow keys on bottom row in left, right, down, up sequence
      • Also used by Apple IIe and Apple IIc keyboards
    • Escape on number row
    • Control left of A
    • Large Command key
  • Apple Keyboard II JIS
    • Adaptation of prior ADB Keyboard design to JIS layout
  • Macway TP-110JIS
    • More balanced main bank than Apple's keyboard
      • Spacebar centered between homing keys
    • Tsundoku Keyboard JIS uses this keymap minus function key row and power key
  • NeXT Keyboard and Sun Type 5, 6, 7
    • Examples of main bank concept outside the Macintosh platform
    • Extra banks are consolidated or unimplemented on Apple and Tsundoku keyboards


At risk of defining something by what it is not, it is worth contrasting the design from common archetypes.

IBM Enhanced Keyboard (Model M)

The Tsundoku Keyboard is in many ways an Apple user's rebellion against a mainstream dominated by descendants of this keyboard. Our objections:

  • Caps Lock occupying a prominent position even though it is rarely used
    • Tsundoku Keyboard currently has no Caps Lock
    • Pressing both Shift keys to activate Caps Lock (NeXT style) is under consideration, if QMK can support it
  • Control in bottom left corner even though it is frequently used
    • Tsundoku Keyboard has Control to the left of A, like many other layouts
  • Escape is far away from the main bank
    • Tsundoku Keyboard has Escape on number row, like Sun keyboards and traditional Apple keyboards
  • Empty space on bottom row (between Control and Alt)
    • 104 keyboards from the Windows 95 era onward fill this space with additional keys, but they are small to fit into this space
    • Tsundoku Keyboard has a Mac-style layout designed for easy activation of GUI keybindings
  • Num Lock
    • The number pad doubles up as a navigation cluster
    • Vestige of earlier IBM PC keyboard layouts without a dedicated nav cluster
    • Tsundoku Keyboard takes the Apple approach (no modes!) with dedicated number pad

Happy Hacking Keyboard

  • Command key positions are identical
  • Larger Option key instead of leaving blank space on bottom row
  • Arrow keys
  • Fn on bottom left instead of taking a piece off of right Shift
    • HHKB Fn layer navigation and function keys found to be difficult to use
    • A JIS right Shift with HHKB-style Fn placement would be reduced to 0.75U


  • Model 1 (JIS)


  • (JIS only) No 英数 key left of spacebar
    • 3.5U spacebars unavailable. Would need to be custom made
    • Use slightly more common 4.5U spacebar
  • IBM style number pad operator keys
    • Mac-style operators would require custom keycaps
    • IBM style operator keys are not particularly objectionable

National Variants

Design Goals

    • Large Command and Option keys for people who use them often
  • Not minimalist
    • Dedicated arrow keys
    • Coincidentally smaller than 101/104 keyboards, but compactness itself is not a goal
  • No IBM-style nav cluster
    • Arrow keys can go on the bottom row as on many Apple keyboards
    • Home/End/PageUp/PageDown on Fn layer of arrow keys
  • Has a tenkey
    • No Num Lock (no modes!). Always numbers

Problems with existing PCBs

Reasons why the Tsundoku Keyboard must be designed from scratch.

  • No JIS Right Shift support
  • Layouts all referenced from AT101/Windows 104
    • 75%, 60%, etc... all expressed as reductions of AT101
    • No consideration for different combinations of elements. Tenkeyless? 75% 60%? What about a tenkey but no IBM nav cluster?