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The Numeric Keypad
The numeric keypad is a set of keys all of which duplicate others on the keyboard. Many people never use these keys at all, and may wonder what the big fuss is about the numeric keypad. Others consider the numeric keypad an absolute necessity for any keyboard they plan to use.
For regular PC users, it's true that the numeric keypad is not that important; after all, there are already numeric keys and punctuation symbols as part of the main typing area. However, those who work with numbers a great deal, especially people who do accounting work, find the numeric keypad much easier to use, because the numbers are oriented in a configuration similar to the keys of a conventional calculator or adding machine. Further, all the numbers and the math symbols ("+", "-", "/" and "*") can be easily reached with a single hand. With practice, this lets someone enter a series of numbers or arithmetic operations with one hand--much faster than using the row of numbers along the top of the keyboard.
The original IBM PC keyboards used the numeric keypad for cursor control and navigation keys as well as numerics, and used the <Num Lock> key to toggle between these function sets. Starting with the first 101-key "Enhanced" keyboard, the cursor and navigation functions were given their own keys, but the <Num Lock> functionality was retained for compatibility. With the numeric keypad no longer being needed for cursor controls, it became much more feasible to use it for numbers, and many people just set the <Num Lock> on and leave it that way.
This table contains a full listing of the keys in the numeric keypad, along with their key numbers and scan codes:
Next: Function Keys