# Numeric key pads on phones/computers...

Maybe this has been covered and I was absent that day, but it’s driven me nuts for years:

Why are the numeric key pads on the phone and on your computer the reverse. Look at yours. Ever notice it?

The phones top line is 1-2-3. The computer pad is 7-8-9. I can key in a wild variety of numbers on my computer without looking at my fingers and not make a mistake, but cannot dial a phone without looking at the numbers.

Why the difference? Is it a conspiracy between Ma Bell and the computer industry?

Some one end my misery, please.

The early bird gets the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.

It’s probably been covered.

I do know the numeric keypad on the computer is based on that on an adding machine. And the earliest adding machines put the low numbers on the bottom for design purposes. They worked on a gear being turned by pressing a key. A 1 would move the wheel one unit, etc. There was a different row of numbers for each digit, so the keyboard looked like this:

999999999
888888888
777777777
666666666
555555555
444444444
333333333
222222222
111111111

Because the 9 was on a longer shaft, it stuck up higher. Putting it at the bottom would have been awkward, so it was put on the top.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction. www.sff.net/people/rothman

I was just looking at some early phone key pads and there were some laid out

1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 0

They were designing for the general public and it wouldn’t look right to put the 9 at the upper right corner. Now for accountant types that were used to the old adding machines that would be the logical place for the 9. Computer pads are like the calculator pads, which like RC said probably came from the adding machines.

Yeah, the adding machine/computer keypad makes sense. One would think that this would be a natural carry over to phones, but apparently, it is not the case.

In case you didn’t know already, the key positions on a TouchTone keypad is specifically for making the tones. Each row makes a unique tone and each column makes a unique tone. For each button press you get two tones (one from the row and one from the column) of different frequencies, hence where the non-commercial name for TouchTone comes from–“DTMF” or “Dual-Tone, Multiple Frequency.”

I think the selection of the button order was arbitrary overall. Some sense can be made by the distance from the zero to the one keys–on a computer, they’re closely related mathematically, but on a phone, the zero is one of the “special keys” (including # and *) if you consider that it’s used to dial the operator and they may have wanted the keypad to be read Western-style left-to-right, top-to-bottom.

Now if we could only get rid of the alphabetical-order keypads on some products and stick with QWERTY…

Hey, aren’t you supposed to be at work?

Yes, I did ask before, a similar question.

It was about why a ‘0’ is last when we all know that it should be first, 0, 1,2, etc.

But you are right, my keyboard, a new one from Logitech, has 7,8,9 at the top.