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Alternatively a tool is used for pressing small keys.
Standard alphanumeric keyboards have keys that are on three-quarter inch centers (0.750 inches, 19.05 mm), and have a key travel of at least 0.150 inches (3.81 mm).
Because of the limitations of terminals based upon printed text in comparison to the growth in data storage, processing and transmission, a general move toward video-based computer terminals was effected by the 1970s, starting with the Datapoint 3300 in 1967.
The keyboard remained the primary, most integrated computer peripheral well into the era of personal computing until the introduction of the mouse as a consumer device in 1984.
In normal usage, the keyboard is used as a text entry interface to type text and numbers into a word processor, text editor or other programs.
However, keyboards remain central to human-computer interaction to the present, even as mobile personal computing devices such as smartphones and tablets adapt the keyboard as an optional virtual, touchscreen-based means of data entry.
While most keyboard keys produce letters, numbers or signs (characters), other keys or simultaneous key presses can produce actions or execute computer commands.
Despite the development of alternative input devices, such as the mouse, touchscreen, pen devices, character recognition and voice recognition, the keyboard remains the most commonly used device for direct (human) input of alphanumeric data into computers.
A keyboard is also used to give commands to the operating system of a computer, such as Windows' Control-Alt-Delete combination, which brings up the system security options screen.
A command-line interface is a type of user interface operated entirely through a keyboard, or another device doing the job of one.