Knight keyboard

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 helping popularize the meta key, which originated with the Stanford keyboard.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]


  1. ^ The Knight keyboard.
  2. ^ Raymond, Eric S.; Steele, Guy L. (1996). The New Hacker's Dictionary. MIT Press. p. 420. ISBN 9780262680929.
  3. ^ Xah Lee. "History of Emacs & vi Keys (Keyboard Influence on Keybinding Design)".
  4. ^ Xah Lee. "How To Avoid The Emacs Pinky Problem". Retrieved 2009-11-08.

External linksEdit