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The form-factor and layout is inspired by a combination of multiple historical keyboard layouts, including the original Macintosh keyboard and the Sun Type 3 keyboard.

Throughout the history of the HHKB, the ANSI and JIS layouts have not changed between series.

Layouts (click to enlarge)

ANSI Layout (source:

ANSI layout

ANSI Layout (source:

JIS layout

In the above images, functions printed on the 'front' of the keycaps are accessed via a key combination of the Fn key and the corresponding key. For example, to use the Page Up function, the user would press Fn+L.


Unlike most commonly-available keyboards, the Happy Hacking Keyboard features the following major layout differences:

  • The Esc key is located where ANSI keyboards feature the ~ / ` key (useful for vi/vim users)
  • The Ctrl key is located where ANSI keyboards feature the Caps Lock key, similar to the Sun keyboard layout)
  • The Del key is located where ANSI keyboards feature the \ / | key, and acts as a 'forward-delete' by default (all HHKB models feature DIP switches that allow the user to change this to a Backspace key)
  • In place of the ANSI backspace, the \ / | key and the ~ / ` keys are located in the upper right-corner
  • Given the reduced number of keys, most additional functions are found on the Fn (function) layer, accessed by pressing the Fn key to the right of the Right Shift key. This includes the F1 - F12 keys, the keys found in the navigational cluster (Up , Down , Left , Right , Page Up / Page Down , Home / End), Print Screen , Caps Lock , and others. The HHKB Professional series also includes volume-control keys, functional when supported by the user's operating system.


Sun Type 3


Sun Type 3 - click to expand (source)

The Sun Type 3 keyboard was introduced with the Sun 3/80 desktop workstation.

Note the positioning of the Esc , Ctrl , \ / | , ~ / ` and Del keys, borrowed for the HHKB layout.

Apple M0110


Apple Macintosh M0110 ISO layout - click to expand (source)

The M0110 was introduced with the original Macintosh computer.

The size and bottom row layout inspired the compact design of the Happy Hacking Keyboard.

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