John Karlin, inventor of all-digit dialing, dies at 94

Keypads.pngDo you find it easier to use the keypad on your phone or your calculator? If the phone, then you are in good company.

Most people prefer the numbers to start logically at the top, rather than searching for them at the bottom.

Therefore the blog would like to pay tribute to the man responsible for this development (and many others), John Karlin, who has just died at the age of 94 years.

Karlin worked at the famous Bell Laboratories after World War II, and introduced the novel idea that technology should mirror people’s behaviour. As the New York Times notes, he is “widely considered the father of human-factor engineering”.

Perhaps his major achievement was the design of the key pad we all use today. it was launched 50 years ago on 18 November 1963. Without Karlin, it might well have featured the numbers in just 2 rows, or in a circle, or even an arc.

Instead, his team set itself to discover user preferences. And ever since, the design of most keypads has benefited from his innovative thinking.

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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