of a half keyboard was conceived sometime in the 4th quarter
of 1984. It was derived from the conventional QWERTY keyboard,
and was designed to allow touch typists to type with one hand, without
having to learn a whole new keyboard layout. Instead, by using a slightly
different typing technique, their existing skills would simply transfer.
words of our President:
idea for the Half Keyboard came as a reaction to the Microwriter . . .
fall of 1984, I read a short blurb in a magazine describing this strange
new device called a Microwriter.
It was a portable dedicated word processor, equipped with a one-handed
chord keyboard. It had only 6 keys, which users typed
on with one hand.
intriguing, but the chord keyboard sounded very impractical to me
at the time. I didnt think most people would be willing to learn
a whole new keyboard layout. A week later, most of the Half Keyboard
design just popped into my head.
much happened in the subsequent 5 years. My notes sat in a drawer
and I pretty much forgot about them.
with the industry moving towards increased portability, the time seemed
right to blow the dust off my five-year-old idea.
29, I applied for a Canadian patent and the clock started ticking.
I had exactly one year in which to attract enough attention (and money)
to apply for patents in other countries. After a year, the idea would
become public domain in every country that I hadnt applied for
a patent (i.e., almost everywhere).
letters to all the pocket computer manufacturers (thats
what they were called back then), and several actually replied.
big companies sent back letters thanking me for my interest in their
products, but regretfully stating that it was company policy not to
accept external submissions. Two of the smaller companies
showed an interest and information was exchanged, but in the end neither
was willing to take it on.
I didnt realize at the time was that pocket computers
werent being used as general machines like other computers.
They were being used for such things as reading gas meters, and collecting
field data. Typing speed wasnt much of an issue in those applications.
shortly before the year was up, I incorporated. I sold shares to various
friends and relatives, and Matias Corp. was born.
August 3rd, 1990, Edgar
Matias, Steve McGowan,
and James McGowan founded the Matias Corporation.
of that same year, the company entered into a research partnership with
the University of Torontos Input
Research Group. The next three years were devoted almost exclusively
to research and development. The
early months of this period were
by the CBC business show Venture.
January of 91, the first prototype was completed, followed by
three others. Their first public showing was at the Computer-Human
Interaction (CHI 91) Conference in New Orleans.
October 8, 1991, at the MACWORLD Expo/Canada conference in Toronto,
Half-QWERTY for Macintosh made its debut. It was followed by an MS-DOS
version in July of 92, and a Windows version in June 95.
research efforts continued. In 1994, a prototype wearable computer (with
Half Keyboard) was completed. It was first shown publicly at the CHI
94 conference in Boston, and then again at CHI
96 in Vancouver.
of 2000, a Half Keyboard small enough for use on a cell phone was created.
Measuring only 4.88 x 1.77 inches (124 x 45 mm), yet still maintaining
the full standard horizontal keyspacing (19 mm), the unit was small
enough to allow Internet phone users to type e-mail messages, at speeds
almost as fast as on a full-sized keyboard.
the company signed a deal with Transpacific
Resources Inc. (YTQ-CDNX)
to acquire startup financing. In August, Transpacific exercised its
option and acquired 5.5% of Matias for $300,000.
Half Keyboard for Palm & Handspring made its commercial debut at
Comdex Las Vegas in November of that same year, and began shipping
on January 31st, 2001.
Expo in San Francisco (January, 2001), Matias debuted the USB Half Keyboard
for Macintosh and USB-equipped PCs. That same week, Matias announced
that Jef Raskin, the man Forbes described as the Real Father of
the Macintosh, had joined the company's Advisory Board.
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