The Happy Hacker keyboard comes in two flavors: one is a regular PS/2 connector for attaching to your pc. That model is just expensive. The other model includes connectors for your Mac and Sun as well. It is very expensive. I have one of the cheaper ones, so here are my impressions of it.

First, it only has about 60 keys. There's no caps lock, num lock, scroll lock, or hejaz lock. There are no arrow keys (everyone uses hjkl, right?). There's no separate numeric keypad, and there's no seperate row of function keys. Finally, there are no Windows keys. So that about covers what this keyboard doesn't have.

What about the key layout? Well, control is in its proper location up on the asdf row. Escape is at the left end of the numbers row (also where it belongs). The space bar is nice and long, since it is unconstrained by the absent Windows keys. pipe and tilde are both at the top right-hand side, both easily accessible. Return is rectangular instead of L-shaped.

There are also two diamond keys. I assume those are meta, but I don't know. At about $1/key, I sure would like to use them, though. There's also a Fn key which is sort of like another alternate. This key is used in combination with others to access the function keys, page up and page down, arrow keys, and the like. It makes some combinations a stretch, but it's really not bad at all.

Overall, the Happy Hacker keyboard has a nice feel to it. It's very small, lacks a lot of unneeded keys, and puts things where they belong. Those are advantages. Disadvantages include the extreme size, the need to hit keys in combinations when you wouldn't normally have to, and the price.

Excellent small keyboard by PFU America, Inc. with sensible placement of the CTRL key. New users will find the fn-escaped arrow keys most disconcerting to get used to (it takes a week). The HHKB has "diamond keys", which xev reports being associated with keycodes 129 and 131. You can map the diamond keys to be "Hyper" modifiers under X with something like

xmodmap << EOF
keycode 131 = Hyper_L
keycode 129 = Hyper_R
add mod4 = Hyper_R
add mod4 = Hyper_L

If this works for you then you can think about putting something similar in your .xsession file.
I love this keyboard. It's great. Really expensive, but the company that makes it is Japanese, and you know how little their money is worth. (INAE: I am not an economist)

Some notable features no one has mentioned: The delete key is delete by default; not backspace. It's also configurable via DIP switch. As for DIP settings, you can re-bind the diamond keys to say, Alt, Fn, **shudder** Windows key. You can also set the delete key as backspace, and make ctrl-tab act as caps lock.

I recommend this keyboard to anyone with enough money to blow. Again, the size! It's much smaller than 4 rulers stacked vertically! I have room to put food while I code! Get yours at
I recently bought one of these, and I love it, for both its size and its layout. I would really hate to spill a Cup Noodles on it like I did with my last keyboard.
I have just one problem with it. I accidentally hit control-'a' while typing a long writeup and instinctively hit backspace, deleting my whole writeup. A combination of the control key being right next to the letter 'a' and Internet Explorer's (I can't use Linux right now for a reason I won't explain here) lack of an undo option caused me to stop writing that writeup and start writing this one. I guess having control and 'a' right next to each other might cause some problems once in a while because of the often negative consequences of selecting all the text and hitting another key.
I don't mean to sound like an advert, but:

Having just taken a gander at I have this to report: The new Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 now features two downstream USB ports on the back and due to popular demand the four arrows that we are all used to ([ ; ' / must be annoying) are now included in the lower right foot corner. Having only 60 keys, the Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite 2 comes in at about $1.15 per key with a hefty (and slightly naughty) price tag of $69.

I have been using the Happy Hacking Lite keyboard for two days now, which I think is an appropriate amount of time necessary to give an objective view about this keyboard. Now, the thing that makes this keyboard special and revered by some programmers and gamers alike is the amount of keys and how it is designed. With only 60 keys, compared to standard 101 keys, it is quite an adjustment when you are starting to use this keyboard. There is no numpad, actually there is nothing beyond Return. Don't worry, all your regular keys are accessible through the nifty function key, similar to those found on laptops

The first thing that was a challenge for me was the lack of inverted T arrows, you know.. standard keyboard arrows. In comparison to Happy Hacking Lite 2, which has inverted T arrows, regular Happy Hacking has only arrows accessible through the use of the FN/function key. Since I usually only use the arrows when editing using vim I quickly learned the hjkl maneuvering available in vim. Also, the placement of Esc is left of 1 is a gift from god for vim users who need the Esc key all the time.

While writing this node I came across another challenge. To type the characters < and > needed for HTML tags and such, I had to press the combination of keys Shift+Right Alt+Z or X. Now this is a pretty clumsy method of operation, but people using Happy Hacking keep saying one gets used to it after a while and do not wish to use "regular" keyboards again. I sure hope so.


  • Small size
  • Sturdy
  • Portable
  • Configurable
  • Comfortable
  • Looks damn cool
  • Not too squishy keys, not too clicky
    • Expensive
    • Unusual
    • Needs adjustment time
    • Sometimes reminds of playing Twister

    The keyboards are configurable through a set of DIP switches located at the back of the keyboard. The setting I found most pleasant was to set all four switches to on, thereby mapping the delete key which usually is backspace on most keyboards back into backspace, and making the alt keys into function and windows keys, and the metakeys into alt. I did this because the alt keys are very small and I found this unpleasant and moved them over to the larger meta keys.

    This is a pretty cool keyboard, and if you are interested and you've got the cash, buy it.

  • Since the last entry to this node in March 2003, PFU has introduced a new line, the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional. You'll either love or hate this keyboard, as clichéd as that may be. On one side there are people saying that it feels like typing on heavenly clouds and they might as well have been born with this keyboard in their hands, the layout is so intuitive. On the other side, there are people who complain about the lack of dedicated arrow keys and don't understand who in their right mind would use Topres instead of buckling springs or Cherry MX switches. Those who could take it or leave it are few and far between.

    While the Lite models use the rubber dome over membrane switch that you'd be used to encountering in any given keyboard, the Professional versions use Topre capacitive switches. The Topre switch is made of a rubber dome, which collapses to provide the snappy feeling that lets you know you've done what you were trying to do without having to visually process the result, and a conical spring that effects actuation. As the spring is compressed under the dome, it changes the capacitance of a capacitive sensor on the PCB. Once this change is significant enough, right after the peak of resistance from the dome, the keystroke is registered. A not insignificant amount of space lies between that point and the bottom; it's theoretically possible to avoid bottoming out the keys, but this is difficult as there's a dip in resistance after actuation. Topres have neither the noise nor the 60-80 cN resistance of the buckling spring switch. The bump itself is silent—any noise comes from the keys bottoming out or snapping up when released—and is not unlike the feeling of a piano key giving way. The switches on the HHKB require 45 cN to actuate; Topre manufactures switches with actuation forces from 30 to 55 cN.

    There is some disagreement over whether a keyboard with Topres counts as mechanical. While Topres use rubber domes, they also contain springs, have a crisp rather than a mushy feeling, and actuate mid-stroke instead of as near to the bottom as makes no odds. This has led some to call it semi-mechanical.

    You can get the HHKB Professional 2 with blank or printed keycaps. If you want to look cool from a distance but need to cheat on occasion, try the subtle black on charcoal grey. The keys on this board go right where they belong: backspace is above enter, and control goes where the caps lock normally would. Caps lock is available in a function layer on the tab key for those heathens who may happen upon this glorious instrument. Escape is nicely within reach in the upper left-hand corner. The F-keys share a row with the numbers and can be pressed using one hand, albeit with some acrobatics, as one finger must be on the Fn key. This model has six DIP switches that define how various keys behave.

    This keyboard is a serious commitment at US$250-300. If you really have some money burning through your pocket, there's a Type "S" (for Silencing) for $400.

    May you have good feeling of oneness with cup rubber.
    Inside a Topre switch
    Topre force curve graph
    HHKB Professional 2 layout
    DIP switch and mode charts

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