These Keys Shouldn't Exist | Nostalgia Nerd

31 maj 2020
407 487 visningar

[Head to ​ to save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain using code NOSTALGIANERD] Welcome to the world of PIPE symbols, vertical lines and bars. Why are there two pipe symbols on a computer keyboard? Why are there two vertical lines on keyboards? Why does a solid line produce a broken line? ASCII? What does Ascii and character sets have to do with this? Why is the bar broken? Why is it no longer broken? What does ANY of this mean. Find out within (disclaimer: this video might actually confuse you more than you are right now).
🔗Video Links🔗
Punched tape:
IBM 029:
Notes from early development of ASCII:
🏆 Support 🏆
Support my channel, get exclusive videos & perks, as well as an ad and sponsor free experience at from just $1
🏪 NN Shop & Affiliate Links! 🏪
My eBay Shop: (Now Re-open!)
My Retro Tech book: (2nd edition is out!)
Desk Shelves for Retro Computers: (Because you're worth it)
🍻 Share/Like 🍻
If you wish to share this video in forums, social media, on your website, or ANYWHERE else, please do so! It helps tremendously with the channel! Also, giving a thumb up or down also helps with visibility on SEworld. Many thanks!
📟 Subcribe 📟
Click to Subscribe:
📱 Join me on Social Media 📱
🎥 Equipment 🎥
Lumix G6 with Vario 14-42mm Lens
Nikon D3200 with 40mm Macro
Corel Video Studio Ultimate 2019
Corel Paint Shop Pro 2019
Blue Snowball Microphone
📜 Resources 📜
In video links and references are provided where possible. If you believe I have forgotten to attribute anything, please let me know (drop me an email via. the about page on SEworld or send me a tweet), so I can add it here. Apologies if I have missed anything out, it takes time to make these videos and therefore it can be easy to forget things or make a mistake.
Errors and omissions excepted.
Some material in this video may be used under Fair Dealing / Fair Use. Where under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (UK: Sections 29 and 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988), allowance is made for purposes including parody, quotation, criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, education and research. Fair Dealing / Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

  • Couple of corrections; I should say 58 and 64 characters at 2:40, not 54 and 60. My bad. Also, the main reason that Americans refer to the # symbol as pound is due to weight, not the currency..... It was an off the cuff comment, lacking context, BUT... one pound sterling is actually derived from one pound (weight) of silver. The currency symbol £ is a stylised L, the initial letter of the Latin word libra from which comes lb as an abbreviation for pound weight, in the same way as # is.... So, it actually makes entire sense to occupy the same key. It's a roundabout way, but we get there! You can read more about it at - Thanks to Johnm2012 & everyone else for the comments! Stay safe.

    Nostalgia NerdNostalgia Nerd4 månader sedan
    • 5:25 You made it sound like the ISO would be the European Standard but it is the international standard, there is a European standard, even trough it is mostly identical with the ISO and the DIN those three are three different things. Really a nitpick than is all.^^

      EzydeniasEzydenias8 dagar sedan
    • @Seraphina The U.S. is also the country that's officially supposed to be on the metric system, but didn't make the switch mandatory and only ever allocated enough funds to change over one highway.

      ssokolowssokolow15 dagar sedan
    • In American English, #5 is number 5, 5# is 5 pounds which is why we sometimes refer to these as the number sign or the pound symbol.

      x-crisisx-crisis21 dag sedan
    • And you call urself a NERD!!! mixing up the OLD 58 64.. for the OLD 54 60... oldest trick in the book.. me and the boys down at BOFFINS AND SUNDRY had a good old laugh at that one i can tell you!!!

      Tiny Core StudiosTiny Core StudiosMånad sedan
    • @Bobis32 Commentary I feel that keenly. I like what Microsoft Word (and, to an inconsistent lesser extent, other Office apps) do for accents, with Ctrl+modifier, then the letter. So, Ctrl+comma, then c gives you ç, and Ctrl+colon, then o gives you ö, Ctrl+@, then space gives you °, and so on. The whole list is here Sadly in the rest of the Windowsverse, I still have to remember the ASCII codes. There is a little app to let Windows mimic (badly) the very nice Mac approach of holding down the key to select modified letters. In Windows, you only have the utterly and completely useless repetition of the character. Well, it's good for screaming -- aaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

      pbaschpbasch3 månader sedan
  • OK I think I understand... if I was in a bar in the 1970s I would have been offered a pipe, which would have allowed me to make sense of all this?

    Andrew HullAndrew Hull8 timmar sedan
  • I honestly prefer the broken bar appearance. It helps differentiate it in languages that have characters that look like a vertical bar in various fonts like the number 1, lowercase l, or capital I. 1Il|

    Kerta DrakeKerta Drake15 timmar sedan
  • For information, the French AZERTY keyboard has only one bar, the broken one. Using it produces character 7C, which appears full or broken depending on font: - Broken in Terminal (which by default, is no longer used in Command Prompt) - Full in literally *all other non-dingbat fonts I found on my computer*, including modern Console fonts (Consolas and Lucida Console) and old Windows ones (like System and Fixedsys)

    Link8312Link8312Dag sedan
  • 2:05 -"Although that couldn't be adapted for computers, because if you arranged the signals in binary order, it just produced a complete mess". Why?

    Mindflayer86Mindflayer86Dag sedan
  • ( ) ⁝

    HoloKolaHoloKolaDag sedan
  • The bar that was broken shall be reforged

    Ben PhillipsBen Phillips2 dagar sedan
  • ℔ that like button and |subscribe for more

    Phantom0fTheRouterPhantom0fTheRouter3 dagar sedan
  • An actual use for | nowadays is to write absolute numbers (eg: |-5|) when doing math problems, while seeing it used for "or" is kinda outdated since many programing languages have done away with it.

    Tho thoTho tho3 dagar sedan
  • "Standards are great! There's so *many* to choose from!!"

    Zen KimZen Kim3 dagar sedan
  • Let me remind you all of ALT Codes, and Unicode and X-Sampa and that things are really weird when it comes to computers still... I mean Unicode should be the standard, but seeing as there's almost no actual support for IPA writing, aka writing phonetically, it's a bit of a hassle. And Yeah... Everything is fucking weird with computers still.

    The MajorThe Major3 dagar sedan
  • 4:18-5:46 It's a shame really, that important symbols like ≠, ≡, ≥, ≤, ... were replaced by those old fashioned control codes. ASCII was one of the worst mistakes in computer history, as I see it, which was realized by many already in the 1970s-80s. Sadly, unicode (or any of it's predecessors) didn't manage to take over until the early 2000s. Probably thanks to the clever UTF-8 coding.

    Herr BönkHerr Bönk5 dagar sedan
  • On my keyboard I have a broken bar that the screen displays as a whole bar. I am still confused.

    pdorismpdorism5 dagar sedan
  • ... I have to assume that is some sort of European keyboard. I don't have pipe by z, or on tilde, just above enter.

    Kage SongKage Song5 dagar sedan
  • # and £ are both called pound because they are both derived from "libra pondo" which was either signified with the sign ℔ which turned into the # sign or by a capital letter L which evolved into £ It has nothing to do with computer code.

    Anders ÖhlundAnders Öhlund5 dagar sedan
  • me : replacing friend's code space with alt+0160

    Arachmadi PutraArachmadi Putra5 dagar sedan
  • In programming the pipe is necessary for conditions

    SeleDreamsSeleDreams6 dagar sedan
  • I was waiting for a mention of BCD and EBCDIC. Maybe in a future video.

    Mike W EllwoodMike W Ellwood7 dagar sedan
  • 3:27 Two asterisks? That's an interesting choice. BTW, my Finnish keyboard has *THREE* (continuous) pipe symbols. Granted, two of those are for different layouts and only one actually produces a character normally.

    Samira PeriSamira Peri7 dagar sedan
  • Similar to #, the symbol, ℔ is an abbreviation of the Roman term, "libra ondo" which translates to, "pound weight"

    kk9 dagar sedan
  • We Americans refer to "#" as the pound-sign because it's our (formal, archaic) unit label for the pound (as in weight): A 5# sack of potatoes, for example.

    czolusczolus9 dagar sedan
  • I guess us Australians are the same as you Americans. I got very confused until about 3/4 of the way through the video where the keyboard having two characters was explained.

    Glenn WatsonGlenn Watson10 dagar sedan
  • What the heck is this keyboard at 16:42?

    Tim CokerTim Coker10 dagar sedan
  • imagine how hard it would be without pipe key for me to use grep

    Cup o' ChinoCup o' Chino10 dagar sedan
  • My Das Keyboard 4 Pro has a broken pipe character on it | o_o |

    chbruleschbrules10 dagar sedan
  • i’m really high and this video is tearing my brain apart

    MegaBusterMegaBuster10 dagar sedan
  • I can't resist to remark that the mathematical OR-symbol at 4:40 is in cell 0/8. (0/4 shows mathematical AND.) The "pipe" is used in describing sets meaning "such that", e.g.: Q := {x e N | sqrt(x) e N} "Let Q be the set of all natural numbers x *such that* the square root of x is a member of the natural numbers. "

    Robin KochRobin Koch11 dagar sedan
  • This is probably my favorite video I've seen you do yet. I work in the ASCii character set everyday for my job (HL7 database integrations) and I never quite knew this whole history. Really well researched. I've read several of the IBM history books to understand the punchcard era, and their perspective has largely been "We're IBM and we'll do it our own way, thank you! " and then they accidently created a standard with the PC. Awesome to see this entire other story I never knew existed.

    etansivadetansivad11 dagar sedan
  • Well my 2013 Lenovo z50-70 has two unbroken vertical bars

    Ľubomír DurkáčĽubomír Durkáč13 dagar sedan
  • leche try haw the louks in the youtube the ameriacan have this | the english have this ¦ in few words the try to confused us

    Water CatWater Cat13 dagar sedan
  • Never knew I wanted but I loved this

    Axel LisenstainAxel Lisenstain13 dagar sedan
  • The "|" character is very useful. Just ask any Linux/UNIX user as the "pipe" character is important in many UNIX commands.... For everyday users (like Windows or Mac users) OK it's not as useful, but for command-line users it often can be.

    Heelix RanierHeelix Ranier13 dagar sedan
  • some keyboards here have a diferent function for other keys too using alt gr, on those the 3 button can use a euro, basically alt gr has extra functions and some keyboards dont even have the alt gr key and i dont know how it works there

    mintmint13 dagar sedan
  • 18:38 DON'T CAT INTO GREP! The correct command is "grep nostalgia nerd".

    Andrew NealAndrew Neal14 dagar sedan
  • [A few seconds in] Oh, a pipe? Lol I don't use DOS, but pipes are basically a necessity when manipulating data on the Linux command line. Edit: [A little while later] Ah, makes sense Microsoft would steal a feature from a better system (UNIX). I think || (double-pipe) is commonly used as logical or now (or at least in Bash).

    Andrew NealAndrew Neal14 dagar sedan
  • Man that Compaq gave me retro vibes. My very first PC literally was one of those, but "just" a 4/66, with 16 Megs of RAM, the same Tseng Labs ET4000, a 120MB HDD and a nice and shiny full sized original SB16 added to it (which is the only thing I still have, sadly, but at least). That thing got replaced by a 80MHz one because my dad back then didn't manage to install another HDD into that Compaq case (simply no room for a second drive). Just can't remember one thing anymore though. It initially had DOS 6.22 and Win 3.11 on it, but also another GUI that was something like in between 3.11 and 95 which was started from DOS just like 3.11 did, but it was also possible to start it from within 3.11. I wish I knew what that piece of software was, haven't been able to find it anymore. Eventually I wiped the thing and installed 95B on it, but I never had any disks of the OS things that were on it initially, just got the rig in 1995 "as is", was a used one.

    Rainbow DashRainbow Dash14 dagar sedan
  • 17:53 "So, as a recap..." heh... nice one.

    Ynze HettemaYnze Hettema14 dagar sedan
  • Great explanation of something I had never even noticed! Thanks

    EV-olutionEV-olution14 dagar sedan
  • Piping commands is still a thing at lest in powershell where it is very useful to do some crazy powershell wizardry or just exporting to .csv

    Mike429Mike42914 dagar sedan
  • TriamgleTriamgle14 dagar sedan
  • Whats the music at 4:40?

    EnforcerEnforcer14 dagar sedan
  • That char is so used in Linux super easy

    Niels de LeeuwNiels de Leeuw14 dagar sedan
  • I can do one better on my Nordic layout keyboard there is tree broken pipes.

    Mikkel BachmannMikkel Bachmann14 dagar sedan
  • Since when does Microsoft care about standards? Also, condolences to everyone unfortunate enough to be subjected to ISO layouts.

    Dayne CloseDayne Close14 dagar sedan
  • Huh... never knew that ¦ was actually a character. I don't have any way of typing it, since I use a German keyboard for my PC and a US keyboard for my Laptop - neither of which have this bar - but I got it using a hex editor.

    YndostruiYndostrui15 dagar sedan
  • Actually, the hash/pound/number SYMBOL's naming isn't simple, and "hash" is the *least* legitimate name for it. TL;DR: It originally meant "pound" or "number" in non-academic circles. Official print runs of things used £ or "No" with an underbar as appropriate to the meaning, while # only showed up in handwritten stuff that's hard to automatically search for in historical archives. Both meanings were in use in the wild by the time a book decided to document their existence in 1850. Since £ also means "pound", "number sign" is the more sensible name for it in the modern day As for, "hash", that gets its own Part 2: TL;DR: All evidence points to it being cooked up in Britain in the 1970s because calling that button on the newfangled touch-tone phones "Pound Sign" would have been confusing. (And calling it "number sign" rather than "pound sign" would invite ambiguity when relaying what buttons to press over the phone. "Press Number-3" "Do you mean 'press the number 3' or 'press the button with the number sign followed by the button with the number 3?'") ...which then goes back to the original choice of * and # apparently being the symbols which failed the fewest of the criteria for ideal choices... one of which was that they both had to be non-numeric and part of ASCII. (That latter requirement so that it would be easy to incorporate them into printed documents.)

    ssokolowssokolow15 dagar sedan
  • Great video.

    Pete BrownPete Brown15 dagar sedan
  • One of my first jobs included having to translate from EBCDIC to (DOS) ASCII in data dumps we got from hospital mainframes, and needed to process on PCs. That was in the early 90s. FWIW, the pipe was used for bitwise | and logical || OR in C (so back to the start of Unix). Also, interestingly, my Microsoft ergonomic keyboard uses the solid line rather than the broken one. Windows Terminal (with the default font) also shows it as a solid line. No logical not symbol, though.

    Pete BrownPete Brown15 dagar sedan
  • Ironically as the standard was written so that the broken or would not be confused for the logical or, this key is now used for the logical or in almost all modern programming languages.

    mro2352mro235215 dagar sedan
  • Great vid | indeed

    Phil CollinPhil Collin15 dagar sedan
  • I have just learnt the Alt-Gr button gives most of the other keys on my keyboard a third function !! Its like my Spectrum has been reborn :)

    WaxingRadianceWaxingRadiance15 dagar sedan
  • So, wait. If they both now represent a broken bar, then do either of them represent OR? If I understood the summary right, then both represent different characters with the same visual symbol. But does software even honor the meaning of either symbol anymore? If they don't, then do they even have any meaning? What exactly are they?!

    World TheoryWorld Theory16 dagar sedan
  • See I thought this was the Any Key

    Andrew TaylorAndrew Taylor16 dagar sedan
  • Great video! You should do a video similar to this on the useless scroll lock and sysrq keys.

    sysandysysandy16 dagar sedan
  • Man you need a new toothbrush to clean those dirty dusty keyboard grooves. yeccchhh LOL

    David RobertsonDavid Robertson16 dagar sedan
  • | Unbroken oh you mean this one :

    Rose GregorYTRose GregorYT17 dagar sedan
  • Yes, there was symbols to do circle, square, triangle.. and others by pressing some shift key and key that the symbol are on. With Salora fellow.

    weapeaweapea17 dagar sedan
  • THATS WHY THE # IS THE LBS SYMBOL?! That is so so weak.

    MetalMetal18 dagar sedan
  • the pipe symbol is still extremely commonly used in Linux

    Jon SchuettJon Schuett18 dagar sedan
  • That character apparently exists in Minecraft if you type ”|”

    just a dude on youtubejust a dude on youtube18 dagar sedan
  • 3 pipe symbols on my keyboard :) But looking at the key layout it is a bit of a hybrid :) Steelseries 7G

    Revener666Revener66618 dagar sedan
  • ¦

    DoqDoq19 dagar sedan
  • I can't wait for the new James Bond movie. 007C; Broken Pipe

    IncendiarySolutionIncendiarySolution19 dagar sedan
  • My lower left key is a solid bar and generates a solid bar! :-)

    Richard TwyningRichard Twyning19 dagar sedan
  • Our company actually uses the pipe pretty frequently. We deal with lots of trading partners that send us files, instead of having them send us CSV which can cause issues if the destination program doesn't specify the "text qualifier" (or if they forget to set a text qualifier as well). It's just easier to use pipes since a pipe more than likely wont be contained in the data file itself, unlike a comma in a true CSV file. So our company actually uses the pipe very frequently.

    VandeyVandey20 dagar sedan
  • 03:11 Well, look at that... Not a dimpled chad to be found.

    jrmorrisjrjrmorrisjr20 dagar sedan
  • Leave pipe alone. 😭

    NomNom20 dagar sedan
  • ha i never knew about the | more trick. cool.

    Michał WojteczekMichał Wojteczek20 dagar sedan
  • I always called the hash key the octothorpe for some reason. lol

    PCFanatic LetsPlayPCFanatic LetsPlay21 dag sedan
  • What is an international keyboard? To my knowledge they don't exist (after 35 years in the industry I've never come across one at least), with exception of the unicode touch keyboards we have on smartphones today. I believe you mean "non-English" in this context, which isn't the same. But on Nordic keyboards (that is, keyboards that are made to be usable for Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian because hardware makers nowadays are too cheap to make individual keyboards for each of our countries) we have three pipe keys, but only 1 work in each language, which makes the keyboard really confusing. And to add to the confusion, at least 13 keys have 3 characters on each (some of them are usually not labeled which is where the "at least" comes in), with some of them varying depending on what language the computer's set to - that makes our keyboards incredibly confusing to look at and you really need to know where the characters are supposed to be for your language to use them.

    SteelRodentSteelRodent21 dag sedan
  • Breaking the matrix...

    Peter SuwaraPeter Suwara21 dag sedan
  • You do not even want to know how messed up that key is in some european keyboards. Or what I call: How do you cram six symbols into one keycap and have three be the one and same.

    SumeaBizarroSumeaBizarro21 dag sedan
  • Oh. That's why basically all the keyboards I used in the 90s and 00s had a key labelled with | that produced ¦ and a key labelled with ¦ that produced | (This keyboard I'm using right now at least has the ¦ and | labelled the right way round)

    Gizensha FoxGizensha Fox22 dagar sedan
  • Hmm... we need a spot for another key. Should we cut down the chunky, oversized enter key and stick it above there? No, let's chop the left shift key in half instead.

    sketchesofpaynesketchesofpayne23 dagar sedan
  • 16:42 What on earth is that weird and wonderful pseudo-ergonomic keyboard??

    Anthony RichardsenAnthony Richardsen23 dagar sedan
  • Love it. Coming from America. On a not retro pre-2000 keyboard. What? The key to the left of 1 is ~ and `. and the pipe sharing the backslash key above the enter key. Still is neat to see all the code behind a press of the button and a look back on how things developed. Also dating myself here in the analog world where the # is pound and not a hash.

    Leigh UngerLeigh Unger23 dagar sedan
  • You should do a video about ascii 0 to 31

    The HintThe Hint23 dagar sedan
  • Hmm wouldn't be more textfile.txt lead to the same result? This looks like the useless cat file | grep approach

    The NiwoThe Niwo25 dagar sedan
  • I lost you halfway through. Sorry! I'm a bit drunkstoned

    UbersnuberUbersnuber25 dagar sedan
  • The pound symbol (# ) not coneted to £ in the usa. we where thought in school in the 1980s that # was a Meat Tenderizer (meat pounder) pound =hit

    PdarieanPdariean26 dagar sedan
  • Why were $ and * twice in the 6-bit code?

    WadelDeeWadelDeeMånad sedan
  • And then I ask why Australia uses a US keyboard

    GammaBoost GamingGammaBoost GamingMånad sedan
  • I always wondered what that broken bar symbol was, it was just always there without explanation and nobody mentioned it. It's always been weirdly confusing on whether it's really a line or not or what it's supposed to be, I thought it was something predating computers. I feel weirdly betrayed that that ugly broken bar really WAS supposed to be the line I always saw it as (seemingly mistakenly) all along.

    AeroximaAeroximaMånad sedan
  • Well it's official, I can't type; as I didn't even notice that these keys existed on my keyboard and I'm using a 20 year old DELL PS|2 ¦ Keyboard.

    RPS ProjectRPS ProjectMånad sedan
  • Ive got broken bar button above Enter with outputs this " | " above TAB and left from 1 i've got " ~ " and " ` " there is nothing between Shift and Z I was always confused why the broken bar above enter outputs solid one

    wojtekpolskawojtekpolskaMånad sedan
  • Quake taught me about the tilde key

    DickBurnsDickBurnsMånad sedan
  • why didn't they NOT break the pipe and use it as "or" ?

    DickBurnsDickBurnsMånad sedan
  • On danish keyboard there are 3 vertical bar symbols: - one above Tab - one next to left Shift - one next to Backspace

    ZomZomMånad sedan
  • By far the worst video I have ever seen from you. I use the pipe on an almost daily basis and so do MANY programmers and sysadmins around the globe. I find it to be one of the most useful and revolutionary characters to ever be implemented into a shell / OS. I would go as far as saying it is arguably my favorite character on the keyboard (also the tilda). This video was VERY poorly made and explains nothing of any use whatsoever. Thank you for wasting nearly 20 minutes of my life on a bunch of senseless garbage which amounts to nothing. Do the world a favor and change the video title to "This video shouldn't exist | Don't waste your time". Better yet, just go ahead and redirect this video to /dev/null

    Dylan JamesDylan JamesMånad sedan
  • 7:36 I see a coronavirus stamp on the left side of that document which happens to be from the decade coronavirus was first discovered. Coincidence? I think not.

    Steven BezaireSteven BezaireMånad sedan
  • found out that I can type the broken bar by pressing alt gr + shift + \ ¦ :)

    Duncan SterkenDuncan SterkenMånad sedan
  • ¦|¦|

    Severus SinisterSeverus SinisterMånad sedan
  • And so there were the Windows, Macintosh and the UTF16 endians exist

    Matt SuguiMatt SuguiMånad sedan
  • Sadly , Now YT will bombard me with 36 videos a day about fonts and keyboards

    Cody ShaferCody ShaferMånad sedan
  • "putting back in what was once taken out" Also a very classy way to refer to a frequent occurrence in Alabama.

    ThatguycalledJoeThatguycalledJoeMånad sedan
  • I remember vaguely that High ASCII (mentioned around 13:30) is the upper half of the 256 character table, starting at 0x80. Low ASCII is the "standard" latin character set, that you can see on the keyboard (from 0x20 which is simply a space, to 0x7F which is a backspace), minus the first two rows that are reserved codes (null, beep, vertical and horizontal tabs, and so on). The High ASCII part was heavily modified between codepages to fit the extra characters that came with other languages.

    kluggkluggMånad sedan
  • Also very useful to separate CSV files which you want them to contain commas

    GusBounasGusBounasMånad sedan
  • So, HE ROLLED a 4 and a 5... and I ROLLED a 2 and a 3... points for ANYONE that gets that reference!!!

    Tiny Core StudiosTiny Core StudiosMånad sedan
  • I need it, to type my favourite smiley :| Unfortunately my new keyboard is US, but I'm running UK character set, so I have to press right alt, shift and the key above the (woefully small) enter key to produce it :|

    Gareth PerchGareth PerchMånad sedan
  • I think this is all a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the UK just wants to keep any character code involving 007

    Domenick GiambattistaDomenick GiambattistaMånad sedan