In an interview from the early 1980s, PC magazine asked an executive of keyboard manufacturer Key Tronic what was the key’s purpose, to which the executive replied: “I don’t know, but we put it on ours, too”.
The scroll lock key dates back from the original IBM keyboard and is a feature that other keyboard manufacturers simply adopted in the years after. It was initially intended to modify the behavior of the arrow keys. More specifically, it would toggle between two different modes of scrolling. When the scroll lock was on, the arrow keys would scroll the content of the entire window. When it was off, the arrows would only move the cursor.
But this is not the only thing the scroll lock is known to be used for. Depending on the operating system or application that is utilizing it, it can have other functions as well.
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Sources and References:
– PC Magazine: ”The PC’s Keys” (November 1982, page 175) –
– PC Magazine: ”Key Tronic’s Soft Touch” (January 1983, page 347) –
– Wikipedia: ”Scroll lock” –
– Tech Central: ”Evolutionary Leftovers” –
– Stack Exchange: ”Why do modern keyboards have Scroll Lock?” –
– youtube.com/EverySteveJobsVideo: ”Steve Jobs on his legacy (1994)” –
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